How one couple transformed a ‘hideous’ run-down Victorian house

From drug den to dream home: Couple reveal how they took three years to transform a ‘hideous’ Victorian network of bedsits into a stunning house – and added £1.65million to its value

  • Chelsea Dixon and her husband Robert Bühler, 33 and 31, bought crumbling Victorian terrace house in 2015
  • The rubbish-strewn property had not been renovated in up to 30 years, had damp, and housed a drug squat
  • The end result is a stunning family home with a huge, sunlit living room and a wine cellar on the ground floor

A couple added £1.65million to the value of a house by converting it from a squalid network of seven bedsits into a stunning five-bedroom family home with a huge, sunlit living room and a wine cellar on the ground floor. 

Chelsea Dixon and her husband Robert Bühler, 33 and 31, bought the crumbling Victorian terrace house in Shepherd’s Bush, West London, at an October 2015 auction just three days after the birth of their son, Forest. 

The rubbish-strewn property had not been renovated in up to 30 years, had damp, and housed a drug den on the top floor. But Dixon saw the potential of the property’s high 8.2-feet ceilings and its enviable location in a leafy part of Shepherd’s Bush.

Chelsea Dixon and her husband Robert Bühler, 33 and 31, bought the crumbling Victorian terrace house in Shepherd’s Bush, West London, at an October 2015 auction just three days after the birth of their son. They are pictured with their two children in the kitchen of the newly renovated property 

The large sofa in the living area on the ground floor, which is decorated with modern art and an impressive crystal chandelier

The end result is estimated to be worth £3.5million and feels very far away from the day three years ago when Dixon first came across the house in an auction catalogue. Pictured: The main bedroom

The end result is estimated to be worth £3.5million after £600,000 worth of building work, and feels very far away from the house Dixon first came across in an auction catalogue she was reading in hospital.

‘I was looking at properties while waiting to give birth in hospital when I saw it. I knew that street very well and knew properties never come up on it,’ she told MailOnline. 

‘The baby was about three days old on the day of the auction. I wasn’t planning on buying it but put an offer down and we weren’t outbid.’


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The couple, who own the home and design company Vada Collective, quickly got to work clearing out years worth of rubbish before knocking down every interior wall and stripping the plaster down to the bare brickwork. 

‘There were lots of people living there before,’ Dixon said. ‘It was hideous – one of the upstairs rooms was a crack den and there were drugs all over the floor. Two ladies on the ground floor were fairly tidy in comparison.

‘We had to clear all the junk that had been left so we could see the wood from the trees. Then we stripped it back to the bare walls and plasterboard, and removed some old lime plaster that was falling from the ceiling.’ 

The rubbish-strewn property had not been renovated in up to 30 years, had damp, and housed a drug den on the top floor but is now worth an estimated 3.5million 

The house includes a long, open-plan ground floor which, like the rest of the property, has stylish walnut floors. Pictured: A grand piano inside the living area 

The 22ft-wide kitchen-diner area illuminated by two huge skylights and four ceiling-height sliding windows that look out onto a Mediterranean-style garden 

The couple were both suited for the job. Dixon said her parents were so keen on renovations to her childhood home on the Isle of Man that she ‘grew up on a building site’. Pictured: The new children’s room

Luckily, the couple were both suited for the job. Dixon said her parents were so keen on renovations to her childhood home on the Isle of Man that she ‘grew up on a building site’. Bühler, meanwhile, used his architectural expertise to draw up the designs. 

By the end of their work they had a long, open-plan ground floor with a 22ft-wide kitchen-diner area illuminated by two huge skylights and four ceiling-height sliding windows. 

The kitchen, which like the rest of the property has walnut floors, features marble worktops and a French range and mirror. Upstairs there are four bathrooms in addition to a downstairs loo.

A drafty, non-secured side alley was replaced with a larder and a wine room to take advantage of the cool temperatures in that part of the house. 

The couple are pictured with their children further towards the front of the house, which contains the living room in an open-plan format 

There are four bathrooms in the upstairs of the house, in addition to a downstairs loo. This bathroom is decorated with several modern artworks, much like many rooms in the property


 Dixon and Bühlerand made use of the high 8.2-feet ceilings to lend an airy aspect to the property. Pictured: The kitchen and dining area, which is lit by large skylights 

The marble kitchen island, which was designed by people at the couple’s own home and design company, Vada Collective

One of the property’s five bedrooms, which looks out onto the leafy street at the front of the house. It is a stark contrast to the previous set up of seven bedsits 

Meanwhile, the previously overgrown backyard with a pond full of frogs has been replaced with a Mediterranean-style garden.

The couple met at architecture school and have already renovated several properties in the local area, some of which they rent out.

‘We are really happy with it, it’s a great space to live in,’ Dixon said. Even though it’s very big each area is zoned to make it more liveable. 

‘So even though the downstairs is vast it is broken up into a reading area, sitting room and kitchen all in their separate little zones.’  

The previously overgrown backyard with a pond full of frogs has been replaced with a Mediterranean-style garden

A quiet area in the upstairs of the house, where there used to be a drug den which the couple found strewn with used needles 


The rubbish-strewn property had not been renovated in up to 30 years, had damp, and a drug den littered with needles on the top floor. Pictured is one of the rooms just after the previous tenants had gone (left) and the dilapidated front (right)

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