A building owned by a charity providing somewhere for people to stay coming out of prison has been given a new lease of life by an ambitious young family with a passion for renovating.
Sam and Allan Johnston, both 35, will feature on tonight’s episode of Scotland’s Home of the Year after their impressive renovation of a Southside building once owned by the Simon Community caught the attention of TV producers.
In just over a year, the couple knocked out eight bedsits, replaced windows and installed a heating system to inject a new functionality to allow the property to begin its chapter as a family home.
“When we first went to view it, it looked absolutely nothing like it did today,” explained mum-of-two Sam.
She added: “We bought the house about two and half years ago. It took us about just over a year to renovate it.
“It was really tricky as it was through covid and we had to move in with our in-laws as well, my husband’s parents.
“Materials and availability of tradesman – it was quite difficult but my husband did a lot of it, thankfully, so we managed to just keep going.”
Luckily, the couple had picked up a few tips on how to do such a project having renovated a property nearby – but when they came across this home on Rightmove and put the offer in, they had no idea just how much work they had ahead of them.
“When we first went to view it at first glance we thought the windows looked fine, they looked alright.
“But then once when we got the keys and had a proper look we had to replace them, every single window.
“As you appreciate, with the size of this there are a lot of units to replace. The costs were just astronomical. We had to just get it done, we have two young kids. That was a huge expense we didn’t really account for.
“The heating cost to replace all the radiators. New boiler, start from scratch. Every single thing was ripped out.
“We also sold the other property so we had the money to get these things done,” Sam said.
It’s clear when speaking to Sam that the heart of this home is her children Lois 2 and Rory 1, and they were in fact the reason why she decided to do the show.
She said: “We love those types of programmes Scotland’s Home of the Year, Grand Designs, all those types of shows. We are just engrossed in.
“They contacted me through my Instagram account and I thought this was a fantastic thing to do for the kids.
“I really wanted to have that kind of capture, that snapshot of the house that they grew up in. The process we went through of transforming it into what it is today because sometimes it is hard to remember just how it looked before.
“I have got loads of videos and stuff, and I look back and just think wow the transformation is just unbelievable.”
Judges Anna Campbell Jones, Kate Spiers and Michael Angus got to see that transformation first-hand when they visited the property as well as a converted apartment in Motherwell and an eco-friendly cottage near Biggar who are all competing in the Glasgow and Clyde Valley heat of Scotland’s Home of the Year.
So is Sam worried about what the judges will make of her property?
“I am absolutely looking forward to it.
“You do have that little bit of worry. What did they say? Did they like it? What were their comments? That’s natural I guess,” she admitted.
Featuring a cinema room, playroom, massive kitchen leading out to the garden, stunning bedrooms, stylish bathrooms, gym and an incredible hallway, there is no doubt that this home will blow the audience away.
And with Sam working for a software company by day and her husband in his role as a director of a care home, their talent for interiors and renovation is self-taught which makes the transformation of this home even more impressive.
Sam said: “I am interested in it (interiors) but it is not what I do day-to-day. I do love it.
“I mean it is just really looking online and getting inspiration from other interior designers.
“It’s not something I do professionally or I am into in any other sense, it is only normal renovating.”
She added: “Allan will kind of go with what I want to do. He goes with whatever I ask him to do. He doesn’t really care to be honest but he does love it.”
While their home might look like the finished product to the viewer, are the Johnstons done with renovating and do they see this as their dream home?
“We do love a renovation,” Sam said with a smile.
She beamed: “I do see us living her the next five to 10 years anyway but never say never.”
Watch Scotland’s Home of the Year tonight on BBC One Scotland at 8.30pm.
You can follow the couple’s Instagram on @mysouthsidereno