Aug 19, 2022
Meet Emma, Matt, and Daisy, the dog - the team behind Our Surrey Project and Ecoharwood flooring clients. They renovated a modest 1950s Surrey house into a modern New England style home and documented the entire process. “We love all things Surrey, so our Surrey Project that started in 2020 shows our build and life there”, says Emma.
- Which part of the process was the most challenging or frustrating? And what is the most rewarding one?
- The most challenging part was the roof work in January. It was a stressful month due to the snow and ice that kept us from completing these elements.
When we moved back in after eight months, it was still very dusty, we didn't have carpet in certain areas and no furniture set up, but the achievement of walking through the door knowing we were almost there was very rewarding.
- Is there anything you would do differently now?
- We absolutely love the finished result, and I don't think there would be anything we would change.
- In the overall design of a home, what role does the floor play?
- Flooring is a fundamental part of the home design and one that shouldn't be overlooked as it transforms the room, given it is such a prominent feature. It is also an expensive part of any room transformation or build, so you want to get one right. The flooring quality is vital to ensure it lasts for years to come.
- You've chosen Ecohardwood wood flooring for Our Surrey Project. What factors did you consider when choosing flooring for your project?
- We wanted something light, warm, and timeless. That's why we chose Extra White oak flooring by Ecohardwood flooring, as it's a timeless colour. It worked with the warm greys, linen fabrics and natural wood aesthetics we designed throughout the interiors. The plank is a timeless flooring style that, in our opinion, will never date.
When designing the downstairs rooms, I wanted a floor that didn't feel too 'new' and a floor that had a character to it with the grain, so it worked well with the linens and other textures in the room, not making it too clinical. Ecohardwood character grade worked so well and added to the warm, inviting look we planned.
- What are the interior design elements, interior design styles that work with this style of flooring?
- I think classic styles such as panelling, warm greys and creams, and light and dark wall colours would suit.
- Do you have any tips or advice for anyone choosing the flooring for their project? What should homeowners consider before deciding on a type of flooring for their home?
- For us, natural light is the key. Working out how the light flows in each room and whether it should be a light or dark floor will make a massive difference to the room. I would suggest going to your local stockist of Ecohardwood oak flooring and getting the larger samples if possible. Using the larger samples can be helpful to work out grades and colours that complement the wall colours and lighting in the room.
- Modern English country, rustic textures, and natural colour palettes are your favourite interior styles. What are your recommendations for people looking to bring this particular style into their homes – what wooden flooring to choose and what décor to use?
- Find some Instagram accounts or Pinterest images with similar design styles that you like. Look at the rooms' composition, furniture, colour themes, fabrics, patterns, and accessories. Then look at how this could work with the floor choices you are looking at. Do you want herringbone flooring versus plank or more texture versus smoother grade floor? Making mood boards for the different elements, taking screenshots from the internet, and collating them together can be helpful as well as sample mood boards too.
- When renovating your Surrey home, what were some of the most important lessons you learned?
- Enjoying the process is the main one – we loved taking on this renovation and planning every element, from the exterior design to the interiors. Everything was planned out and discussed in detail, so we made sure we got it exactly how we wanted it and that ultimately is the goal, to end up with a home you love. That's why we plan on doing it all again very soon!
- Do you have any overall tips or advice for anyone considering building or renovating a house?
- Plan, Plan, Plan! Think about each room and how you would like it. Making mood boards for each room will help with this. I made lots of them to work out colours, fabrics, and textures, and I ordered lots of samples too. As we planned this during the lockdown, we couldn't visit shops or showrooms, adding a slight challenge! It's also important to make decisions as early as possible, such as what tiles you want, what grout colour, what kitchen and layout you want, what skirting, where you want light switches and sockets to go etc. All these elements make a difference to the build and the timings too… Plus, delivery times now are a factor!
- What interior design trends do you like seeing right now?
- I love the built-in media unit wall trend at the moment – I think a really nice way to define a TV area, especially in a large open-plan living space.
- And are there any trends that you hope will never come back?
- Anthracite windows and doors with white render!
- What are the top productivity tools that help you achieve your goals?
- Matt and I love a list we access on our phones – this is such a helpful tool to use, especially during a build!
- What was the best compliment your home ever received?
- I get lots of lovely people to tell us it is their dream home, which makes me feel such a sense of achievement that we have designed a home that inspires people to want to do the same.
- Where do you look for interior design advice and inspiration? Do you have any blogs, podcasts, magazines, or books to recommend?
- I love Instagram and Pinterest – I am constantly pinning Pinterest inspo now for our next project, and it gives me so many great ideas for the interiors and exterior.
- When you're not working on your renovation projects, how do you like spending your time?
- We are mainly out and about in Surrey, exploring new restaurants, cafes and walks in the Surrey Hills, our favourite place.
- Since you run a design and build company Babel Developments, you are no strangers to renovation projects. Could you tell us about the most memorable projects you've worked on so far, or perhaps some exciting plans for the future?
- Matt owns Babel Developments and works with clients on their designs through building and project management. His current flagship project in Surrey is a similar New England design to @our_surrey_project, so a very fun one him to be involved with. For the future, Matt has some large builds for clients across Surrey lined up, and we have Our Surrey Project part 2 coming up and some big plans we can't wait to share with everyone… and of course, document every moment.
A short history of Our Surrey Project
Emma and Matt bought the house at the beginning of 2020, just before the pandemic. They knew the property needed a lot of work. It was overgrown outside and outdated inside. However, they had bold plans to transform the 1950s/60s home into a modern New England house. With Matt running a Design and Build company, Babel Developments, they were able to begin designing shortly after moving in and submit planning within a few months. As a result of the lockdown, they had more time to nail down decisions on all aspects of the build, and spending time on the property gave them a better understanding of where the sun moves throughout the day and where windows should be placed. The construction started in September 2020 and was completed in July/August 2021 after the plans were approved.
There have been many changes throughout the house, including a large open plan kitchen, diner, living room, and utility/boot room with side access to prevent muddy boots from entering.
The new owners added a study to the front, a downstairs WC and rearranged the living room to create a cosy room with a fireplace. All four bedrooms upstairs now have ensuites after the layout was reconfigured. In the rear and front gardens of the property, the overgrown bushes were cleared, and a more modern garden design was created. The driveway was landscaped to a gravel drive with planted borders. During the exterior renovation, lap cladding and ashlar cut render was used to create a stone-like appearance. The windows in the house have been resized and made into sash windows to give the house more symmetry and to finish the design. To provide lots of natural light, they also installed sliding doors with a 20mm slim frame and floor-to-ceiling windows on either side.
Follow Emma, Matt and Daisy on Instagram @our_surrey_project >>