So the tired-looking family home languished on the market for about two years, waiting for Mr. and Mrs. Right to come along and prove that those who dare inevitably win.
Why Leeds is poised to become the next build-to-rent property hotspot
After 16 months of hard work and a lot of clever DIY, the Victorian mansion, in need of a refurbishment, is now considered beautiful enough to star in film and photo shoots.
It’s on the books of Leeds-based agency Lifestyle Locations, which operates across the North sourcing properties for films, TV series and product promotions.
It’s also garnered attention on Instagram, where owner Emma-Jo Woollin posts as @mysecrethouseaccount.
She and her partner Daniel Liversidge bought the large end terrace in Morley in October 2020.
It is one in a series of three houses built at no cost for the Bradley family who owned a local mill.
The pair were intrigued by the original features and thoughts on what could become of this ‘maker upper’.
“We had done projects on newer homes before and wanted a new challenge. We could see it needed a lot of work, but we both fell in love with the features. As soon as Daniel saw it, he said, ‘Make an offer,'” says Emma-Jo, Brand Marketing Manager.
Architectural features include architraves, deep skirting boards, Victorian era picture rails and corbels, and fireplaces installed in the 1920s.
However, there was a long list of work required, including roof and gutter repairs, moisture proofing, replastering, insulating, re-plumbing, re-wiring and some reconfigurations, not to mention new windows.
Emma-Jo and Daniel, who works on his family’s earthmoving business, are both hands-on which has helped tremendously. They were also willing to stick it out and live in the house while they worked.
She says: “We are a really good team and did 85 percent of the work ourselves. Dan used to be a plumber so he did that and even installed the new windows, all 15 of them.
“We lived in the large master bedroom while we renovated the house and that became our sanctuary. We had there a bed, a sofa, a TV, a microwave and a kettle.”
The determined couple stripped the 15-room, three-story building back to the bricks in places and found the original exterior wall behind a later addition.
They left this uncovered in homage to the excellent work of the Victorian masons. It is located in a former bathroom on the ground floor and today’s dining room.
Repurposing space was a big part of the plan and so the lower ground floor which was a kitchen leading to the courtyard is now a gentlemen’s club/man cave and bedroom, bathroom and utility room.
On the ground floor, a second reception room has been transformed into a spectacular kitchen with deep blue LochAnna units and gold Dunelm chairs.
On the first floor there is the master bedroom with dressing room and bathroom, three further bedrooms and a bathroom.
“It was all challenging because we did a lot of the work during the peak of the pandemic,” says Emma-Jo, who did the interior design and started almost from scratch, building the furniture from her previous home in the 1990s , was not suitable for the historic house.
She has combined old and new with vintage pieces from in-store and online at Vintage in Oulton.
Eager to restore the original sense of grandeur the property would have had, Emma-Jo specified cast-iron radiators and opulent lighting.
Homewares department store Redbrick Mill in Batley is one of her favorite places to shop, in large part because it has Made.com and Heal’s outlets there.
The now elegant living room is a triumph. The walls have a paneled effect with dowling stripes and are painted Johnson’s Candle Smoke and off-white with touches of green.
The velvet sofas are from Made.com and the black cabinet in the alcove is an Ikea-Kallax unit that’s like a million bucks thanks to thin Dowling strips that were painted and then glued to the doors, which now have new brushed gold handles looks. The gold lights in the alcove are Leader Lights.
Taking pride of place in the dining room was a beautifully handcrafted vintage armoire from a family friend.
“I promised I’d find a place for it and it fits perfectly. I took it back and painted it and it’s now my bar for wine bottles and glasses,” says Emma-Jo.
The basement gentlemen’s club room plays with the lack of natural light with Farrow & Ball’s Off-Black ceiling and Studio Green walls.
The large master bedroom has also been made cozy and with a touch of drama thanks to Farrow & Ball’s railings with a chandelier and mirrors on either side of the bed adding a touch of glamour.
The master bathroom features a double ended bath with a freestanding brushed gold finish with a freestanding waterfall faucet by Homary.
Now everything is ready except for the garden and the couple has looked around on real estate portals.
“We love renovating properties, but nothing on the market comes close to what we have here, so it would be a shame to sell,” says Emma-Jo.