THE renovation of a former Monmouth commercial premises into a family home was watched by millions of viewers reports Andy Sherwill.

The Grade II listed building in Whitecross Street, latterly used by an accountancy firm, was featured on ‘George Clarke's Remarkable Renovations’ last week on Channel Four.

The building, constructed in 1725, began life as a family dwelling until the 1870s, when William Card acquired it as a place to run his tax business. After the First World War the building was transformed into a high-end women's clothing shop, run by Miss Lugg and Miss Russell, and then taken over by Miss Fisher into the 1960s.

Over the last few decades the building has been used for a variety of uses, including a book shop, a wine bar before becoming the base for an accountancy firm.

George met Kirsti Holborn, an illustrator and interior designer, and army officer Tim Lucas, who snapped up an old shop for £360,000 in order to create the five bedrooms they desperately needed.

However, the couple soon realised that being a listed building located in a conservation area and with a quirky layout, it was not going to be a smooth renovation ride.

Kirsti explained that getting an affordable property with enough bedrooms was going to be challenging as they would have to compromise so much.

She added: “The possibilities of a commercial building in the centre of town opens everything up a bit, you get more space for your money and that was the absolute key thing."

The family renovated the buildings top three floors were done first so the family could move in.

The ground floor saw the demolition of the office’s modern additions which had carved up the space to create a number of extra, odd shaped rooms; an office, a small kitchen, and a wooden lean-to and a cloakroom.

And with the addition of an extension into the garden, which was overseen by archaeologists because the property sits on the site of an ancient Roman settlement, the couple were able to rehome their kitchen, which has a sedum roof, and with it being angled, at George’s suggestion, views into the garden were created.

They decided to opt for French doors in the extension and wrap around windows as a safer option than a complete wall of glass, to secure the vital planning permission.

However, the biggest design challenge was the shop front - to make it private but not to lose any light it provided.

Where the old office and shop once stood is now an open-plan studio for illustrator Kirsti and a motorbike workshop area for Tim.

Channel 4 / Amazing Productions / Roy Riley
The ground floor no longer resembles an office after its renovation into a family home. (picture courtesy Channel 4 / Amazing Productions / Roy Riley). (Channel 4 / Amazing Productions / Roy Riley)

And 18 months after renovation work began, with the builders sleeping on site, George attended for the 'grand reveal' and said: "In so many ways this project sums up just how difficult it is to do a conversion project as well as a restoration job. It's been very stop start project for so many different reasons.

"It's gone from drab, dreary and desolate but now it's a striking and show-stopping home; a brand new chapter in its 300-year-old history. I love the building’s exterior colour, it looks rich, it looks vibrant, it looks really classy.

"Against a ton of odds, they have given this historic shop a new life when it needed it, both downstairs in the extension and upstairs where they have sensitively and uniquely renovated the rooms to accommodate their family of six. What they have achieved here is a renovation spectacle. Because of its listed status and conservation area it was a difficult road to navigate but, my word, it's been worth it; bold, eccentric and staggeringly unique and that's what I love about it."