Imogen Woodage inside her new kitchen
Photographs capture the stunning transformation of a dated Victorian terraced property into a glorious, modern home.
Imogen Woodage and her fiancé Alex bought the tired property – their first home – in 2018 after a search on a modest budget for a house in Greater Manchester.
Since they secured the purchase of the two-bed terrace in the Sale area for £225,000, the couple has spent significant time and labour to transform the property.
Imogen, 30, said: “We viewed it on a bit of a whim. It wasn’t until we saw it that I got my heart set on a Victorian-style home because of the traditional features in the house.
“Alex wasn’t quite sure about it because it was quite run down, it hadn’t been lived in for months, it was rented out before we bought it and it stank of smoke, it was pretty grim.”
But the price was significantly cheaper than the average for houses of its type in Sale – others typically sell for closer to £330,000.
Imogen, who herself is an interior designer, convinced her partner it was right, Manchester Evening News says.
Imogen and her partner Alex bought their first home in Sale, Trafford
The first-time buyer said: “As soon as I saw it I loved it and knew it was the one. It had all the Victorian features I loved, such as parquet floor running through the hallway and lounge, a Victorian fireplace with pink and blue tiles and high ceilings.
“It was also a good size. It’s got a basement as well and not many of the houses on the road have one. I ended up convincing Alex so then we put an offer in.
“The kitchen was in a bad state, it was really dated, so for that reason we went in £5,000 under. We put the offer in on the Friday and on the Monday they came back and said the owner had accepted our offer of £225,000.
“The buying process wasn’t that bad for us because we weren’t in competition with anyone, it all ran fairly smoothly because I don’t think anyone else had put an offer on it. The whole process took about three months before we finally got the keys.”
Imogen and Alex began renovating right away.
“It was amazing when we got the keys to our first house. Moving in was definitely one of our best days, I’ll never forget it,” Imogen added.
“I loved being at home with my mum and dad and every time I went away I’d always feel quite homesick, so I was really worried that I’d struggle when we moved in here. The first three weeks I was a bit unsure and it didn’t feel like home but I think that was because it needed a lot of work doing to it.
“After three weeks I just got that feeling of ‘this is home now and whatever state it was in, it didn’t matter because it is ours’.”
The couple began work on the lounge first as it was an “easy fix”.
“We started with the lounge on the day we moved in because was definitely the easiest and most simple because all we needed to do was repaint and furnish it.
“It had the parquet flooring which we loved, it had the fireplace and it still had all dado rails, picture rails, and the rose on the ceiling so we kept all of that.
“I had two weeks off work when we first moved in so in that time I did the lounge, our bedroom and the bathroom. Although the bathroom wasn’t to our taste it was fairly new and there was absolutely nothing wrong with it so I just painted it.”
The former kitchen is pictured
Imogen added: “The kitchen was the biggest job. We needed to start all over again right down to the walls which needed re-plastering. We ripped the entire kitchen out in first few weeks and just lived off microwavable meals for two months whilst we waited for it to be fitted.”
The couple spent between £20,000 and £25,000 renovating the entire house which they had saved up gradually over the years. They also managed to save a lot of money through DIY.
“We pretty much did everything else ourselves with a lot of help from our parents, the only room which we got tradesman in for was the kitchen,” Imogen said.
“Doing it ourselves definitely helped to save money along the way. Painting is definitely the easiest and cheapest way to completely transform a room.
The transformed breakfast area is pictured
Imogen added: “We saved up quite a big deposit as we were really ruthless with saving the three years before we moved in. But our mortgage advisor told us there was actually no point in putting all of it down because it would only lower our mortgage repayments by a small amount each month.
“So that meant we actually ended up with about £20,000 spare which we didn’t expect but we were really lucky as having that pot of money allowed us to renovate quite quickly.
“I’d say probably £8,000 of that went on the kitchen alone including all the tradesmen. A lot of it went on furniture because we didn’t have anything, we needed a lot of big items from the sofa to the beds and chairs and tables.”
After buying the house in a run-down state the couple have now transformed it into a pretty, pastel-coloured home.
Imogen said: “What I’ve always wanted was that feeling when you go into someone else’s house and it just feels really comfortable, homely and cosy.
“I’d say I’m quite brave with colour, I think every room’s got a bit of colour. I tend to use a rule of three so if I have two accent colours then I tend to team them with a neutral colour. So for example in the lounge I’ve got blue walls and some pink furniture and then creams and greys.
“I’d say in general the colour palettes across the house are quite soft. I’m drawn to blues and turquoises and pinks, so it’s all quite colourful and light. I’ve gone a little bit darker in the bedroom because it helps me to sleep better.
“I think these days you see a lot of neutral homes so I think the use of colour and the way I’ve put colours together probably makes my home quite unique.”
The transformed kitchen is pictured
Imogen says she has found inspiration for her home on Instagram over the years and she eventually set up her own home account @elm_terrace_interior which has amassed more than 13,400 followers on Instagram.
“When we first bought the house I didn’t use Instagram so a lot of my initial ideas were my own ideas,” Imogen said.
“Then about a year into doing the house one of my friends who works in marketing suggested I set up a home account. Initially I thought it’s not really me but then I thought it might be nice to keep as a log of the transformation.
“After a while I just really enjoyed doing it, speaking to people on it and also using it for inspiration. In no way am I a photographer but I like setting up shots and styling rooms to get pictures and so it’s definitely become an unexpected hobby.
“My following has grown organically and I’ve never set out to have a certain amount of followers, it’s more just a form of escape and enjoyment.
“I think if it ever became like that then it wouldn’t be for the right reasons, there’s a lot more to worry about than how many likes and followers I get.”
The work has taken some time but the couple are delighted
Giving Manchester Evening News a tour of her home, Imogen explained: “You come in through the front door and there’s a little porch and a secondary door. Then you go into the hallway which is a typical Victorian hall as it’s quite narrow with high ceilings.
“The first room you come into is the lounge at the front of the house. You then come into the dining room which is a through room, then from there to the back of the house is the kitchen.
“It’s a galley kitchen so it’s quite narrow and it had been extended years ago which means our garden is quite small and runs alongside the kitchen. We call it a ‘yarden’ as it’s more like a yard but it’s south facing which is lovely. From the back of the garden there’s a gate which leads out to a Coronation Street-style alleyway.
“We’ve got a little yard at the front too. It’s just pavement and stones but because that gets the sun in the morning we’ve put a bench there so we can sit out and have a cup of tea.”
The outdoor garden bar
Imogen continued: “Our house is quite unique in the fact that our stairs aren’t in the hallway, they are accessed from the back of the dining room and they run the opposite way to traditional stairs in a terraced house.
“Once you go upstairs there are really high ceilings in every room. At the top of the stairs there’s the main bedroom which overlooks the front of the house. Then looking out over the back of the house there’s the spare room which again is a really good double size. My other half works in there so he has a desk in there.
“Then we’ve got the bathroom which overlooks the back of the house as well which again is a good size. Then back downstairs at the end of the hallway we have a basement as well. We turned the basement turned into a bit of a gym in lockdown whilst the gyms were shut.”
Imogen also renovated her garden during lockdown and added in a quirky outdoor bar.
“I’d seen someone build a bar in their garden on Instagram and I thought it was a nice thing to do,” she said.
“Someone down the road was having some work done on their house and there were loads of pallets outside so I asked if they needed them and they said they didn’t so we used their palettes.
“My dad made the bar for us and since then quite a few people have asked him if he can do theirs.
Talking about what she loves the most about her home, Imogen said: “My favourite rooms are probably the lounge and the kitchen because I like having people round and cooking for them, an I also really like being in the lounge to relax at the end of the day.
“I love that our house is something that Alex and I have done together so it’s like our own project.
”The location as well is perfect because it’s quite near the tram with easy access into Manchester so it’s perfect for our lifestyle. Also just the style of it, the road that its on all the houses are similar in their style but its just a really nice pretty road.”
Discussing her plans for the future, Imogen said: “We want to stay here as long as possible, I think that the only thing that would mean that we might need to move would be if we were to start a family. I think we could start a family here but I don’t think it would be for the long term. I think we’d still stay in Sale because we just love the location and there’s lots of lovely bigger versions of our house.”
Giving advise to first-time buyers hoping to get on the property ladder she said: “I think there’s a lot of negativity around young people getting on the ladder, you hear all these stats that no one will not be able to afford a house and I know it depends on your circumstances but I definitely think if it’s something that you’re passionate about and you want to do it, it is possible.
“We actually didn’t think we’d be able to get on the ladder as soon as we did until we spoke to the bank, sometimes you don’t realise that it’s closer than you might think.
“I read a book by Phil Spencer called How to Buy Your First Home which was really helpful. I’ve actually now passed it around all of my friends because it’s really good,” Imogen recommended.
“I was given it as a Christmas present just before we bought the house and it was really good for understanding the whole process and there are loads of checklists in there that you can tick off, so I definitely recommend reading that.”
Imogen added: “For Christmas and birthdays we asked for a lot of vouchers so we could buy things ready for when we moved in. I stocked up on decorating and cleaning bits so as soon as we moved in we could hit the ground running, instead of spending time going out to the DIY shops.
“Definitely just focus on one room at a time and appreciate that it will take time, but it’s always worth it in the end.”