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Tropical house

Sandra and Trevor Collins’s design and renovation skills have transformed their 1980s home into a modern light-filled oasis

For Sandra and Trevor Collins, a bland property at the end of a long driveway in a densely populated suburb of London became the unexpected starting point for a new bespoke home. “The neo-Georgian property was ugly and the driveway was in desperate need of a good power wash,” says Sandra. “But to even have a driveway in Teddington – let alone one as long as this – was like gold dust. The outdoor space was a big selling point and straightaway I could see that, with some clever remodelling, this could be a fantastic home.”

The Collinses had been looking for their new project for some time after selling their previous renovation four years earlier. A subsequent bungalow project never quite got off the ground, so they moved into rented accommodation to allow a quick move when the next opportunity came along. “Although the bungalow was on a big plot, we didn’t like the neighbourhood and came to realise that was important to us,” says Sandra. “We expanded our search and found we really loved the boutique high street in Teddington and being close to the Thames and Richmond park. I work in central London so a safe walk to and from the station was a must.”

Clear vision

This property had been built in the 1980s on land that had likely been part of a neighbouring garden. The long drive meant the house was set back from the street, with the rear garden backing onto a main road. Inside, small windows made rooms dark and single dormer windows upstairs restricted the head height in bedrooms. A self-contained annexe had been added along the side of the house in the 1990s, and a separate garage-now-studio opposite the property, resulted in a straggly and disjointed footprint. Despite all of this, Sandra was still brimming with ideas to update it.

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About Build It

Build It is Britain’s longest running self build magazine. Each issue is packed full of inspirational and informative readers’ homes, as well as expert advice on issues from budgets and planning to project management and design. This month: - Smart homes for every budget - Timber frame FAQ - Choosing outbuildings - How to maximise your mortgage chances - Guide to finding land