Finding a home that fits our family was our right move
Dilly and her husband Charley had lived in their cosy two-bedroom Hertfordshire home since relocating to the UK from the USA in 2012. They’d enjoyed five years living there: a rented 1940s cottage, which had lots of original features that they loved. And even though the property was rented, they’d been able to renovate it in a way that worked for their family.
However, in 2017, Dilly and Charley decided they needed to move. Unfortunately, Dilly’s mum had fallen ill, so they wanted a home that she could move into with them, as well as more space for their growing family.
“It’s super common for Asian families to invite their elderly family members to live with them when they get older, especially if they are unwell,” says Dilly.
“We knew this next house was going to be our longer-term home, so it was important we had space to have, and grow, our family. We’re a really sociable household, so we also knew that we wanted to live in an open-plan space, for entertaining. It also had to be walking distance to the high street, close to an green space for our dog, Buddy, to run around, and good schools nearby.”
They began their search on Rightmove, drawing their search area so they’d still be in Hertfordshire, and using filters to set the minimum number of bedrooms they’d need. As well as ensuring there were enough rooms, they also wanted a home with a big garden too, to accommodate their future plans.
Dilly is a professional organiser, founder of @declutterdollies , author of the guide to organising your home ‘Create Space’, and provides decluttering advice on the BBC ONE show, ‘Sort Your Life Out’. Being able to make the most of her skills was important to Dilly, so plenty of storage space was another thing she wanted from her next home.
Their search got off to a bit of a false start, after being outbid on a property they liked. When they eventually found their dream home, they recognised that though it might not be perfect, it had huge potential.
The three-bedroom semi-detached house had a lot of walls and small rooms, so Dilly and Charley had to envision what it could look like with a bit of work. But the thing that sparked that overwhelming “this is the one” moment was the large garden.
The couple have done lots of work on the house since getting their keys. They’ve knocked down multiple walls in order to create that longed-for open-plan space, as well as renovating both bathrooms, and transforming the conservatory into a brick extension. Lastly, but most importantly, they got planning permission to build an annexe at the back of the garden for Dilly’s mum.
“We’ve been able to turn this house into a home – it’s very welcoming and social, comfortable but cool. We made it open plan but kept sprinkles of its original character throughout.
Home for me is a place I can have my friends and family over, and enjoy spending time with them in a space that we’ve made our own. And I think we’ve been able to achieve that”, says Dilly.
And the family have future plans for a loft conversion, to transform the front of the house, and install a new roof.
A home that’s made even better by the local community
Their home is in a cul-de-sac, which was something Dilly always wanted after she grew up living in one that felt safe, and friendly. They love their neighbours, and have built a real community up while living there.
“We love this road, and we wouldn’t move out of this area for anything. It’s got such a lovely feel, being in a cul-de-sac and just having that close-knit environment of everyone around you. We’ve got the best neighbours in the world, and I absolutely adore them.”
Some advice for people who don’t know where to start?
“It can feel scary to make a decision as big as moving home. Remember your end vision, and where your house will lead you, rather than where you are now, or what it looks like full of someone else’s stuff. We had to look past the layout when we viewed it, remembering that we’d be able to make changes to the layout that would make it better suited to our family. The furniture that was there when we viewed the house also wasn’t to our taste, but you just need to look past that and visualise your own things in it!”
Dilly’s tips are to assess the space and what your priorities are: whether it’s to build an office, or external gym, or the amount of storage space.
“Whenever I’ve searched for a new home for my family, or even advised my clients, I am always looking out for storage space. As an organiser myself, it’s not just the floor space, but crucially, how I can move all our belongings from one home to another, and make sure there’s enough room to store it all. That’s something I’ll always think about when viewing a home, as it’s so important you’re in a space that’s right for you”, says Dilly.
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“Whether you’re moving into your first house, your forever home, or into somewhere that’s going to be temporary – this should be the place that when you walk through the front door you get the feeling of ‘ahh, I’m home’.”
To help others see how they could break down their home move, Dilly partnered with Rightmove to share her story in our mini moves campaign. Take a closer look at our helpful guides and tools to help you take the first step towards your home move.