How a first-time renovator turned a tired terraced house into a supermodel home

Jo Mclaughlin’s first ever renovation is a triumphant tale of how she turned a dilapidated terraced house into a dream residence.

Tuesday, 1st September 2020, 12:30 pm

When Jo Mclaughlin agreed to buy a ramshackle terrace house that appeared to be riddled with damp, she was nervous about the scale of the project. “I’d never done a big renovation before but I felt like buying the house was meant to be,” she says.

Jo had put her roadside home in a sought-after Leeds village on the market in the hope of moving to a quieter spot nearby. Within three days the ‘Sold’ sign went up and, just as she despaired of finding another house in the area, a ‘For Sale’ board was erected outside the run-down end terrace.

“It was tiny and a total wreck with no heating and lots of damp but I’m quite good at visualising and I could see that it had potential so I bought it,” says Jo, who has transformed the property into a sensational home.

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The kitchen by The Main Company.

Not only has she doubled the size of the house, she has used her natural flair for design to create gorgeous interiors. She began with a small sitting room, downstairs shower room and tiny kitchen on the ground floor plus two bedrooms and a toilet upstairs.

Now, thanks to a side extension built from reclaimed stone and a reconfiguration of existing space, she has a large, open-plan living space with kitchen, dining and sitting areas plus a snug, utility room and wet room. Upstairs, she has three bedrooms, an ensuite bathroom and a house bathroom.

While the renovation tested her mettle, there was also good news. What she thought was rising damp was, in fact, condensation. “The house had been fitted with plastic windows and all the fireplaces had been blocked up so the builders explained that the house couldn’t breathe. They opened up the fireplaces and within two weeks, the whole place was dry,” says Jo, who used John Sykes and Sons builders in Horsforth.

When it came to fitting out and decorating the house, she was in her element. “I work for a pharmaceutical company but interiors is my hobby. I enjoy reading magazines like Living Etc. and I love styling rooms,” she says.

Jo sourced the vintage tiles from The French House

Determined to invest in quality where it mattered, her kitchen is from the Main Company, which is based in Green Hammerton and has a design service and its own team of craftsmen. The handleless wood cabinets are painted in Farrow & Ball’s Downpipe and are deliberately timeless. Rather than wall cupboards, Jo opted for shelves, which give a greater sense of space.

She was also able to use one of her best finds – a batch of vintage tiles that she bought from the French House in York. “I bought the tiles two days after I bought the house because I fell in love with them. It was a risk but it worked out and there were just enough for the splashback,” she says.

The kitchen island is the piece de resistance and has a wraparound concrete worktop, along with an antique brass panel to add contrast and character. “It looks particularly lovely when the sun hits it and will get better with age,” says Alex Main, who now runs the long-established Main Company with his brother, Tom.

Jo added some stools from at Redbrick Mill, Batley, and some industrial-style lights above the island, which are from Industville. “I love the kitchen. Alex Main and I designed it together and it’s got everything I need, including a little drinks cabinet above the oven and storage and a small fridge in the island where I keep milk and butter,” says Jo, whose list of favourite things also includes the Crittall screen windows.

What as a small, dated terraced house is now a beautiful, spacious home.

“I spoke to some suppliers in London who were quite dismissive and then I found KJA in Barnsley who are authorised Crittall distributors. They were brilliant and the cost was only a fraction more than bi-fold doors.”

Elsewhere, she exchanged the old plastic windows for wood-framed ones. The living space reflects Jo’s love of boho and vintage finds, along with some investment pieces.

The tan sofa is from Heal’s, the Ladderax shelving was from eBay, the Murano lights from Renaissance in London and her G-Plan coffee table is from Oakwood Vintage on Gledhow Park Avenue in Leeds.

In the snug, there is a House of Sloane sofa covered in Anna Hayman fabric, which was an ex-display bargain, and the rug is from Covet in Ilkley. Art is a big feature on the walls, though a fabulous feature wall in Troop wallpaper by House of Hackney is one of the main stars in the bathroom. The others are the reclaimed marble sink and the vintage cabinet it sits in, plus the brass and gold taps and a reclaimed metal locker now painted pink.

The sitting area with sofa from Heal's and vintage Ladderax shelving from eBay.

Outside, the garden includes a terrace, a rill and lawns and was designed by Josh Chapman and implemented by First Light landscaping of Leeds. It all looks so good that it caught the eye of Leeds-based Lifestyle Locations, which sources property for film and photography shoots, and is now on its books. “I absolutely love this house,” says Jo. “It was a big project but it was worth all the time, effort and expense that went into it.”

Useful Contacts The Main Company kitchens, Green Hammerton,; Lifestyle Locations,; John Sykes Builders,; KJA Crittall specialists,; Heal’s at Redbrick Mill, Batley,; House of Sloane interiors,; Covet, Ilkley and Harrogate,; Oakwood Vintage, Gledhow Park Avenue, Leeds; Josh Chapman,

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The snug with House of Sloan sofa in Anna Hayman fabric.

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The feature wall in the bathroom is Troop by House of Hackney.
The garden designed by Josh Chapman and implemented by First Light of Leeds.