Chorlton House | The Stress Of Renovation, By Karen Jones Russell

By Karen Jones Russell

woman in window
Karen Jones Russell – Renovation Expert, Creative Director, Stylist and owner of Chorlton House, a location House for film and photography

As we venture around the country, replacing and renovating beautiful, period sash windows, we often come across the most inspiring renovation stories. One such project was Chorlton House in Chorlton, Manchester. We spoke to the owner, Karen Jones Russell, about her amazing home and location house, and got the inside take on the highs and lows of taking on a large renovation project.

Tell us about Chorlton House – is this your first renovation project?

Chorlton House is our third renovation – and it is a dramatic increase in scale compared to the first two. From the outset, this was a little different as it needed to work as both our domestic home and as a house suitable for location filming. By now, we know what works and have ensured all the rooms complement each other, which allows for flexibility to move furniture around the house. Lighting is so important, and we’ve ensured this has been considered in depth. The rooms all flow well and the Scandi style sees the use of lots of natural materials, light colours and plants. All apart from the ‘black’ room that punctuates the rest of the house and the kids’ rooms have a fun and eclectic vibe.

Stunning greenery framing the new Ventrolla sash windows, at Chorlton House, Manchester
What do you find the most stressful thing about renovating?

All the things that we’ve avoided!

You can’t get away from the fact that doing a lot of work on your home is invasive and very messy and noisy, but we minimise it as best as we can. For both sanity and financial reasons, we try to work on one room at a time and zone it off. This really helps when you are living in the property at the time of the renovations.

The next part of the story is to change the space in the kitchen but that involves reinforced steel joists (RSJ) and so has firmly been on the avoid list – along with moving two of the main bedrooms.

What is the one thing you’d wish you’d known before you started?

That the cost is always at least one and a half times more than your most generous estimate! Always.

And that things always take longer as you always encounter unscheduled stops along the way. But we’ve learnt to not let this add to the stress and no longer view them as failures, simply a part of the journey as we know we can also meet flashes of serendipity. For example, a piece of glass arrived without the frosting we’d ordered but we decided to keep it that way as when it was in situ, the light was much better without the frosting.

sash bay window
The bay of Ventrolla sash windows make a statement against the beautiful red brick of Chorlton House, Manchester
Any plans to do another renovation?

I would love to do another but that’s probably a decade or so away – for both financial reasons and the sake of our relationship! We still have a lot we’d like to do on this property, and I enjoy playing around with the rooms and trying new things – it always feel fresh.

Top tips for anyone considering a reno project?

As I mentioned earlier, the key thing is light – whether that be natural light or augmented light. Light can transform a property and be the make or break for a room.

Also, I think it’s important to live in the space of your property first as your initial dream of how everything should come together, may not transpire to work for the way you live.

To follow Karen’s journey with Chorlton House and for an abundance of inspiration, follow her on Instagram @chorltonhouse or visit

If you would like a free, no-obligation survey carrying out on your sash or casement windows, contact us now