Mairead Fanning and Phil Barnett have three sons (12, 9 and 7), run a chain of language schools and yet, somehow, still found the time to turn what was once an 11-bedroom slum in Kensal Rise, North West London into the truly stunning dream family home we see in the picture gallery below.
We spoke to Mairead to find out how they did it:
Congratulations on Kingswood House. Can you tell us something about how the house looked when you bought it?
It was an 11-bedroom slum basically - a house of multiple occupation and in a very bad state!
Was this your first renovation project?
No – we'd done about six houses before in West London and in the Queen's Park area.
How long did it take from the day you bought to what we see in the pictures below?
We completed on 29 April 2008 and moved in to a not-quite-finished house, but habitable, on 5 November the same year.
Neither you nor your husband is in the building or interiors game. Was it tough to find the time to manage the project and hold down your day jobs at the same time?
We had the best builder ever - Jeff Cooper - so it was great and not difficult at all.
Did you know how you wanted the interior to look at the start of the project or did it just evolve as time went on?
I thought it would be a good house for shoots and also a great family home – I was inspired by Jessica Stead's house in The World of Interiors. I had all the furniture and curtains etc from old houses and was determined that it not be all white and to have all bathrooms etc matching! So I had ideas, but did work things out ad hoc as we went along too.
Did you live in the house during the renovation?
When we moved in in the November the house wasn't finished, but the bare bones were, so we just finished off the loft and the painting etc. We had done the really dirty work, like the two side-return extensions.
Do you and your husband make joint style decisions or do you lead and he follows?
He is very good at spatial stuff, so we didn't need an architect – he kept it very simple - and I am good at the mixing-up of styles and interiors.
Do you have a favourite space in the house?
Our loft bedroom is amazing and the kitchen is great.
Where did you source the furnishings to achieve the look? Do you have a list of "go-to" shops for interiors projects?
We took most of the furniture from our old house as we had no money left! But I do like Marylebone High Street, but only in the sales: The Conran Shop, Skandium, Paris flea markets, Circus – a shop near our house in Kensal Rise, Tom Dixon at Portobello Dock and Morocco for rugs.
You're on the books of locations agency 1st Option. Has the house been used a lot as a shoot location for anything we might have seen?
It's been in lots of stills interiors retail stuff - John Lewis, Debenhams, the new Mothercare catalogue, The White Company.
What advice would you give to anyone embarking on a renovation project?
Get a great builder like Jeff!
Is there anything you would have done differently?
No, not really - it really is our dream house and having moved a lot and after a lot of hard work to get to this stage we don't want to move again - ever!
Do you have any other home makeovers in the works?
No – we'll just tart it up in a couple of years, as with a family and a dog and location work it's a bit roughed-up now, but easy to fix.
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