He immediately saw the potential to turn it into a contemporary des res but he wasn’t the only one interested in buying the L-shaped stone property.
Competition was fierce and he and husband Brian had resigned themselves to the strong possibility of being outbid, until a trip to Royal Ascot made them odds-on favourites.
“We backed a few winners and, while the winnings weren’t big, we were on such a high, we decided to throw caution to the wind and rang the estate agent from the racecourse and offered £60,000 over asking price, which sealed the deal. We definitely wouldn’t have offered that much had it not been for Royal Ascot,” says Mike.
It turned out to be a great investment thanks to his exceptional talent for design.
Mike and Brian have climbed the property ladder by renovating houses in West Yorkshire and boosting their value while styling them so buyers can’t resist making an offer. This is their seventh home in 23 years.
“We bought our first house for £46,000 in a not so desirable area, did some work on it, sold it for a profit and traded up and carried on doing that every few years. Our previous house in Ilkley cost £517,000 and we spent £300,000 on it and sold it for £1.05m,” says Mike.
Having already sold their three-storey period terrace house in Ilkley, this latest project began when they got the keys to the door in December 2019, though there was a radical last-minute change just before main contractor Dougie Farrelly arrived on site.
“We got planning permission to create a two-storey house but we were renting a bungalow at the time and realised how much we enjoyed single-storey living, so we altered the plans and extended out instead,” says Mike, who is creative director at Freemans.
Adding extra space by building out at the back and the front is not all they did. The exterior of the house is now dressed in black, low-maintenance Cape Cod cladding from Canada via Vincent Timber and the old tiled roof has been swapped for a black metal one supplied by Catnic.
“The roof was expensive and I had to pay for the builder to go on a course on how to fit it but it’s low maintenance and guaranteed for 25 years, plus I like the look of it,” says Mike.
Work on the project started just before the first lockdown, which created added difficulties, but within a year, the old bungalow was unrecognisable inside and out.
It is a triumph and Mike, Brian and their 12-year-old daughter, Scarlett, love it and so do Mike’s followers on Instagram.
Inside, most walls are in varying shades of Farrow & Ball neutrals and the rooms have been reconfigured and repurposed to create three bedrooms and a snug/fourth bedroom, all with ensuites, plus a laundry room.
An enormous open-plan living kitchen dining space with a small prep kitchen to the side is the star of the show. Its full-height gable window floods the room with light and a picture window, strategically placed opposite the dining table, frames the plants and trees outside.
The kitchen units are from Howdens in Mike’s favourite colour, black, and the worktop and island top are from Al Murad. The chandelier above the island is from Haus of Interiors, while the lights above the cabinets were £10 each from eBay.
The two Ikea cabinets stuck together make a great media unit. The pink drawers are from Graham & Green and are topped with treasures, including a photograph of Louis Armstrong with an Ilkley road sign from when he came to Yorkshire to play at the Batley Variety Club in 1968, while the glass cabinet holds vintage treasures and items of sentimental value.
Much of the furniture and soft furnishings from their previous Victorian house did not suit the mid-century bungalow so there have been new buys, with some from Freemans homeware ranges by Henry Holland, Abigail Ahern and Siobhan Murphy.
The den/fourth bedroom is mainly fitted out with furniture and cushions by Henry Holland and has a slatted wood feature wall from thewoodveneerhub.co.uk.
Mike and Brian’s bedroom has a Made.com bed and wall of built-in wardrobes with central doors opening onto a hidden ensuite, where there is an egg-shaped, free-standing bath and a set of 1960s drawers upcycled as a sink unit.
The couple bought the bungalow for £705,000 and spent £450,000 on the transformation, which was £100,000 over budget, thanks to the cost of materials rising due to the pandemic. But they are still in profit should they sell the house now valued at £1.5m - and the likelihood is that they will, though not just yet.
“I love this house but at some point I’ll want to do another project, though it will have to be in Ilkley because we love it here,” says Mike, who adds that the moving and renovating is partly a creative outlet and partly to ensure that Scarlett is financially secure in the future.
Friends and family often question how he can bear to leave the gorgeous homes he creates but he says: “I look at houses as bricks and mortar as well as a challenge. I love the creative element but a home, to me, is the people and memories in it and they always come with us to the new project.”
Follow Mike on Instagram @behind_the_beech_hedge for more pictures and details about his Ilkley home.
The house is also on the books of Lifestyle Locations, which sources homes for film and photo shoots.