Northern Ireland property: East Belfast couple’s renovation of 1960s home stripped back to ‘bare bones’

The architect and engineer were able to put their career experience into their own property

An East Belfast couple have shared a look inside their impressive interior transformation of their home.

Matthew (36) and Christine Mullan (35) undertook a full renovation of their 1960s detached house, taking it back to ‘the bare bones’.

Christine is an architect ‘who has the ideas and vision’ and who designed, detailed, project managed and dealt with all the statutory requirements during the renovation of their property.

Matthew is the engineer ‘who is hands on’ and comes up with ‘clever solutions’ to Christine’s ideas.

Christine told Be: “We bought a 1960s detached home. Although a very solid property, it had never been updated so we undertook a full renovation, taking it back to the bare bones. A three month contractor renovation/build allowed us to move in December 2019 and we then have undertaken the aesthetic as an ongoing project, doing this work ourselves.

“We wanted a family home that was individually designed to our needs – something we could have a bit of fun with and put our own stamp on. It’s all about family for us.

“We redesigned the layout on the ground floor and knocked walls down to create a large open plan living space. We took the house back to the bare structure, replumbed, rewired, replaced all the windows and updated it throughout. We also converted some outside stores into the house to create a secret playroom for the kids.”

The 35-year-old explained what the hardest parts of renovating a property can be.

She said: “Budget, timescales and the unknown of an existing property. Some of our ideas/finishes have been different to the norm and sometimes it hard to get tradespeople on board with the vision – it’s not always the easy option.”

And for the best bits, the architect added: “The best part was seeing our design come to life. Our children have been involved throughout (helping design and decorate) and seeing them be proud of what we have created makes it all worth it.”

With work still undergoing, the couple are pleased with the finished rooms and have many more transformation ideas.

For others currently renovating their home, Christine said: “You will get there in the end. Sometimes it all becomes a bit much but when you get there, it is all worth it. Go with your gut and ideas, and don’t be put off by other people’s opinions.

“We were relativity lucky, we didn’t have too many issues with the renovation in terms of building work.

“However some of our ideas need a bit of trial and error to perfect. We are in the process of making our own worktops for our utility room and are now on the second attempt.”

Christine added where she gains interiors ideas from.

“Our inspiration came from experience in design and lot of Pinterest/Houzz mood boards. We created our Instagram page [architect_v_engineer] for us – to track our progress but I didn’t appreciate the supportive community there was. It’s absolutely now a place for inspiration and support,” she said.

The East Belfast woman also has some money saving tips: “Shop around! If you find something you like use the internet and see if you can find it somewhere else at a better price. We saved over £60sqm on the same tiles by doing some research.

“Also don’t feel like you have to do everything in one go. Make a list of what needs done and what you would like. Building work/structure are all necessary but all the decoration can be done over time.

“We don’t do too much interior shopping, instead we tend to design and make a lot of pieces ourselves so they are unique and personal to us.”

Have a look in our gallery below to see the interior transformation!


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