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Nick Knowles admits he went ‘over the top’ renovating his first home in Chiswick


Nick put in a blue glass kitchen floor that was ‘like walking on water’ (Picture: Getty/ Metro.co.uk/Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

Nick Knowles, 59, is a television presenter, writer and musician, having released his album, Every Kind Of People, in 2017.

Best known for his DIY and home renovation shows including DIY SOS and Big House Clearout, his latest series, Heritage Rescue, oversees renovations of some of Britain’s most beautiful properties.

We chatted to the TV star about his first renovation project and his tips for first-time buyers.

Tell us about the first home you bought and renovated yourself

I bought an Edwardian house in Chiswick. Sadly, it had no original features so I couldn’t take it back.

My first choice would always be to try and use the original architecture and things of the period, but with this place it had been destroyed, with cable trunking on the walls that the council had put in.

I decided to fully modernise it. The lady who lived in it had been there for 50 years, so it had yellow walls and plastic replacement windows.

Everything was horrible about it, so I took the opportunity to go very modern.

What did you do to it?

I went a little bit over the top because I put in a blue glass kitchen floor so it looked like you were walking on water.

The glass itself was bulletproof so you could drop pans on it and not damage it. I had a single piece of stainless steel countertop made that ran all the way round, and marble plaster that polished up to look like marble all the way round the walls.

I put a huge extension on the back and walnut flooring throughout. We replaced everything, with gunmetal grey windows, and put in Italian, acid-etched radiators that were more like statues.

What was happening in your life at the time?

I designed it all myself but I was on the road a lot at that stage so I didn’t really need anywhere to live. I would stay on the road for six months and then drop back in to answer the builders’ questions every few months.

It made life much easier. I always tell young people, if you can, stay with your parents while you are having the heavy stuff done. That is what they’re there for!

What drew you to that house?

Chiswick had been a bit gentrified then and I had previously been in Wimbledon on the Tooting border, when Tooting had been somewhere you had to wear a crash helmet and carry a baseball bat to go out shopping.

I was able to turn a bedroom into a bathroom — most people do the opposite — so I made an entire wet room, and I had an eight-foot circular window made with a rolltop bath put in front of that.

On the outside, I had a light made with blue bits over it so you could light candles, get in the bath and switch the moonlight on outside. When I came to sell it, the kitchen and bathroom made people want to live there.

Did Big House Clearout change your approach to how you live?

Yes, I’ve done a couple of massive downsizes. After a divorce and living alone a few months, I went to look for a watch and entered two rooms I’d not been in for six months, so I got rid of 80% of my possessions and moved into a tiny cottage. I totally downsized my life.

That change in my lifestyle was the best thing I did. Three years later, when approached to do that show, I already knew the benefits of getting rid of stuff and, through the course of the show, I had another declutter and got rid of another 40 per cent of what I’d gathered in that three years.

Any advice for first-time buyers?

Make sure the roof is solid. It doesn’t matter about anything else but, if your roof is letting in water, you have a nightmare on your hands. Always look at whether the cost of renovation is going to show up in the price or you may end up in a house that cost you more than it is worth.

And spend more time thinking about lighting. It can totally change a house. Start talking to a good builder a good six months in advance of when you want them to start. If they can start in two weeks, they won’t be very good.

Excellent builders are busy. As Clint Eastwood said, ‘a man has to know his limitations.’ Don’t rip out a kitchen if you don’t know how to put one in!

Nick Knowles: Heritage Rescue, Wednesdays at 9pm, on Quest

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