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The ultimate lockdown project

Words: Kate Thompson
While many of us took to baking bread or painting with watercolour during the lockdown, Amanda Percival breathed life into a Southsea property that had lain empty for four years.
When they viewed it prior to successfully bidding for it in an online auction, Amanda and husband Trevor were instantly attracted by the house, which sits in a Conservation Area.
Amanda recalled: “It was our first experience of buying through an online auction – it was  exciting but also very daunting as you only have so many days to come up with the money.
“But in the end we were really happy with the property we bought even though it was a bit of a mess as you can imagine.
“Despite the fact it had been empty for four years, it still had a really lovely feel to it – it’s a very solid house,” she said.
It took a year to renovate the Victorian town house, working with local builders and transforming it from a 2.5 bed property, to one with 4 good size bedrooms (and an area that can be used for extra sleeping space).
“We worked with the builder on the basement which had been completely unusable. We thought about moving the kitchen down there but decided it would be a bit dark and so we made it into a bedroom with an additional sleeping area,” she said.
An old lean-to conservatory was transformed into a dining area leading off the kitchen, and the traditional small parlour or front room is on the same level.
Amanda has a degree in interior design and a real passion for heritage properties. She particularly likes Victorian colour schemes involving rich, dark tones and opulent fabrics and trimmings.
“I’m a great believer that you should work with the age of your home and reflect that in the interiors.
“We used Little Greene paint. It’s been around for years and while it might be a bit expensive, a little goes a long way,” she said.
“We bought pieces of furniture and I did them up through the lockdown. It takes a while to do it properly but it’s something I really enjoy doing.
“I’ve sold quite a bit on Etsy – people in Germany seem to really love what I do. A recent purchaser spent more on the courier than the piece he was buying,” she said.
When she designed the spaces, she didn’t want any waste so instead of buying new furniture, she upcycled discarded old pieces. Most of the items were sourced in Southsea, and Brocante in Castle Road is one of Amanda’s favourite places.
“I don’t like the way we consume as a society, we completely ignore useful, beautiful items and pieces that are much better made than most of the furniture on sale today.
“I like the stories behind old items and the details and work that’s gone into an item makes it very special. It would be great to see a stronger tradition of repair and reuse in the UK. I am a big advocate of the circular economy,” she said.
With hardly any original features left in the home, Amanda and Trevor sourced secondhand fireplaces, original coving and ceiling roses.
The original fanlight above the front door had been covered in leaving the hallway much darker than it would have been originally.
“We got a chippy to make us a frame and got it glazed with  the house number included,” said Amanda.
When asked to choose which is her favourite room, Amanda barely misses a beat when she declares it is the parlour that has touched her heart.
“It feels like my Nan’s front room. We don’t have a TV in there so it is a room where you are forced to have a conversation. It’s the sort of room where you can just sit and watch the world go by – it’s really relaxing,” she said.
Until her children fly the nest, Amanda and Trevor only spend part of their time in the Victorian townhouse and the rest of the time it is rented out through AirBnB and Plum Guide.

Posted in: Articles, Home & Garden