Stepping Stones

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The Independent Online

Interior designer and "house doctor" Julie Bryant bought her first property back in 1982. She and her partner paid £28,000 for a 1970s three-bedroom end-of-terrace house in Shepperton, Middlesex: "At the time I was working for a wallcoverings and fabrics company, and I was keen to bring some of my ideas to life in my home instead of other people's."

Interior designer and "house doctor" Julie Bryant bought her first property back in 1982. She and her partner paid £28,000 for a 1970s three-bedroom end-of-terrace house in Shepperton, Middlesex: "At the time I was working for a wallcoverings and fabrics company, and I was keen to bring some of my ideas to life in my home instead of other people's."

Julie totally redesigned and decorated but, when the project was complete, "I split up with my partner!" She spent the following year renting a room in a "gorgeous old house" in Weybridge, Surrey, and during this time met her future husband.

He owned his own 1970s three-bedroomed house in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey. Julie moved in and once again transformed it. They married in 1985 and the following year sold, thanks to Julie: "The property was taking a while to sell and in the meantime I was searching the local agents for a new property to buy. On one of these visits I overheard a conversation between some people who were also looking to buy in the area. Meeting them later outside the office, we got into conversation and I told them about our property. Two hours later we had a buyer!"

After getting £75,000 for their house, the couple bought a brand-new detached cottage on the edge of Horsell Common, near Woking, from a builder who specialised in "one-off" properties. They paid £97,000 for what Julie describes as the "ideal home", which had an office and had been finished with care: "Even so, I was unable to resist the urge, and within six months the place was totally redecorated."

By now they had a two-year-old daughter, but unfortunately in 1990 split up and sold the house to a neighbour - "quite by chance" - for £145,000. Julie then bought a two-bedroomed ground-floor conversion flat with "bags of character" outside Woking, which she "fell in love with at first sight".

She was working full time as an interior designer when she bumped into an estate agent who was waiting outside her neighbour's flat for a prospective buyer. Julie asked for a valuation on her own flat and, after viewing her neighbour's flat, the buyer promptly looked at Julie's property and offered her £98,000: "He fell in love with it and I had a buyer when, that same morning, the thought of selling hadn't even entered my head."

Julie paid £80,000 for a "run-down, turn-of-the-century cottage" nearby overlooking common land. For six months, working with a builder, she re-modelled and rebuilt the place and spent the next 18 months "enjoying the fruits of my labour" and establishing her own interior design business: "When I decided to sell I had two buyers within 48 hours." She got £140,000 for her renovated home but, as she was undecided about choice of school for her daughter, decided to rent.

She found a "lovely two-bedroomed cottage in a rural area between Woking and Guildford", but in the event her daughter went off to a boarding school, making Julie's location less important.

Julie's business now focuses on "house doctor" style makeovers for vendors, but does she miss being able to remodel her own rented home? "I have totally redecorated and have even changed the flooring. I've spent a lot of money and am very happy living in this area but, despite repeated enquiries, my landlord refuses to sell to me. It hasn't made a great deal of financial sense to remain in rented accommodation, but we have been so happy here. Sometimes you cannot put a price on peace of mind."

Those moves in brief:

1982: bought 1970s house for £28,000, sold for £35,000 .

1983: bought 1970s Surrey house for £54,000, sold for £75,000.

1986: bought new house for £97,000, sold for £145,000.

1990: bought two-bedroomed conversion for £79,000, sold for £98,000.

1995: bought run-down cottage for £80,000, sold for £140,000. Currently rents cottage for £600 per month.

* If you would like your moves to be featured e-mail ginetta@dircon.co.uk

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