Making a house a (insta-worthy) home – part 1

Posted on Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Making a house a (insta-worthy) home – part 1

A local family recently caught our eye when they embarked on a sizeable renovation project of a stunning Victorian property in Dresden, Stoke on Trent. Documenting their journey on Instagram, Hayley and Mat Biggs have amassed over 2,400 followers since moving in last October with this number growing rapidly. Check it out, here @cleveland_house.   

We love all things property, renovations and of course, insta-worthy homes and interior inspiration. As such, we will be following Hayley and Mat on their renovation journey over the years as they turn this 1881 Victorian house into the family home of their dreams. We will be checking in with them regularly for their latest learnings on what’s set to be a very exciting journey! 

So, let’s start at the very beginning of their journey for this first blog and understand just what and why made them go for Cleveland House…

  • Rightmove

For many people on the property hunt, whether it be to rent or purchase, I think it is safe to say that Rightmove is one of the first ports of call.  A good proportion of our customers come to us having found one of our properties on the platform.

Knowing that they wanted a Victorian home, the Biggs spent many months driving round the local area, popping letters through the doors of homes they were interested in viewing. They also kept a beady eye on Rightmove and thank goodness they did as this is how they came across Cleveland House.

Commenting on her experience, Hayley said: “We honestly thought we’d seen everything there was to see in the area but then all of a sudden Cleveland House popped up on Rightmove. The photography captured the house’s features perfectly, especially the hallway, which with its gorgeous tiles and high ceilings was the showstopper for us. We immediately arranged a viewing and thank goodness we did as it turned out to be the ONE.”

  • Potential (and bags of it)

As with all residential properties, it is vital that the house has the potential to meet, if not exceed the requirements of the people living in it. The vast majority of the time you find that potential = space. Does the property have the space you need for the pet you might get, or the kids you might have, or the business you might open in 5/10/15 years from now. This doesn’t just apply for people purchasing a home. A number of our tenants have been in their properties for over 2 years and in that time their situation and way of living has changed. Knowing this was their plan, they selected properties that had room for growth and change from the outset.

In the case of Hayley and Mat, this house really did tick the ‘potential’ box. With a living room, dining room, hallway, kitchen, two bathrooms, four bedrooms - one of which is used as Hayley's study. There is also a dressing room, as well as a pantry, cellar, two outbuildings and an outside utility room. It has plenty of room for them and their two-children.

Mat said “We went into the process knowing what level of work we were prepared to do. Our ideal scenario was a cosmetic refurb rather than a structural one but given our dream of a Victorian property we were prepared for there to be some structural changes required. It was important to us to know our parameters before setting out on the journey and we would recommend others do the same.

“Having gone for a period property we decided to get the top level survey on Cleveland House so we knew exactly what we were dealing with. While there were many things flagged and it did feel a little overwhelming initially, once we sat down and looked through it properly we realized none of them were urgent and that we could take our time in doing them properly and getting them right over the coming years. So we would say get all the surveys done but unless the house is about to fall down, try and look past them to see the potential of the house you’re looking at buying.”

  • Full of features

It is no surprise given their unwavering desire for a Victorian property from day dot of their search that Hayley and Mat wanted a home full of features. Features really can set a property apart and contribute hugely to the atmosphere and décor of a home.

Cleveland House is simply full of them, from tall ceilings to a secret staircase and a Minton tiled hallway. It truly is spectacular.

“What I will say is that refurbishing a period property is a labour of love and you have to be prepared to treat the house, and yourselves, with love and patience – there are no quick fixes. For us, this is our forever home where our two children will grow up and we expect it to take many years to get it to exactly where we want it to be, but we really hope to enjoy the journey along the way!” said Hayley.

From talking to Hayley and Mat it is clear as day that this is their ‘dream home’ – they know exactly how they want it to look and feel and we have no doubt that they will get there.

In their own words, this is what they are hoping to achieve in the coming months….

-        Main focus – replacing the central heating system throughout the house

-        Loft insulation

-        Decorate and finish the second living room

-        Start thinking about the kitchen design

-        Cast iron radiators front two rooms

We’re excited to be on this journey with them and will check back in in a few months to see how the first stage of the renovation is going. In the meantime, we will be following their Instagram closely for all the home inspiration!


Good luck, guys!