We eventually had the time and good weather to paint the vertical cladding on the front elevation:


Feel like this is a vast improvement for a couple of afternoon’s worth of work. Very glad to see the back of the drab grey-brown that was there beforehand. The rich red-umbra colour lifts the house up so much more.

Before and after:


We used an opaque wood stain from a Swedish manufacturer named Jotun. It took a bit of detective work to find out the product and colours, but after talking to some of the painters working on the estate they pointed us in the right direction. The council also provided a list of colours used on the scheme.


The Swedish influence in Byker isn’t that surprising given that Erskine practiced in Sweden for most of his life: it’s easy to spot some similarities with traditional Swedish houses in his designs for Byker:



Next we’ll be painting the accent red colour on the back elevation. Not as big an area to paint and no sanding so should be a doddle (hopefully).


The past couple of months have been spent on odd jobs, as there are fewer jobs we can do before the windows and doors are replaced – this will be by far the most disruptive stage of the renovation, so we don’t want to start on the bathroom, kitchen or plastering until the windows are in. There’s still painting to do, but whenever we have had the opportunity the weather has been rotten. We did manage a test patch of the burnt umber colour however:

Paint test

And the red accents above the first floor windows. Sanding down the existing flaking paint took some time:

Flaky paintwork
Sanded and painted

The old meters have been replaced, with much tidier (and quieter) smart meters:

We have the window supplier and a contractor coming to discuss the new windows and doors on site next week; fingers crossed we have found the right one eventually..!

After a bit of detective work we have finally managed to match the paint colours and product used on neighbouring houses. It’s a Swedish make of paint called Jotun and the colours are non-standard, so it took some time to get the match.

The two cladding colours – brown for the front, red for the back.
Matched colour at the bottom, and an earlier unsuccessful attempt above.

Spotlights are currently being installed in most of the rooms. Here’s a shot of the living room, where we have temporarily put them in place in the ceiling:

Living room – with spots.

We opted for simple white, coated metal spots which we felt were a good fit for the house, and Byker’s cheap, cheerful, Scandinavian feel.


Hopefully when we paint the ceilings white the spots will look even better.

We have also started the process of applying for planning permission and listed building consent (LBC) to replace the windows and doors:

Drawing of the proposed elevations for planning submission.

Next job: painting the exterior cladding before the new windows and doors are installed. Waiting for some alright weather..!

The past month has been spent stripping out, removing wallpaper, preparing for the electrician and plasterer.

We have now had the house completely rewired to remove all the odd additions and patches the previous owner had made, and to upgrade the wiring and replace the switches and outlets. This will make it easier to reconfigure lighting and the new kitchen, if not just for peace of mind. It also gives us the opportunity to have the layout of switches, sockets, TV points exactly how we would like.

Kitchen. Counter-top sockets in place and connections for appliances
Pantry. We took the opportunity to install a light and socket
Living Room
Dining Room. There was a second consumer unit from the previous owner; we’ve removed both units and situated the replacement in the lobby to tidy things up


Bathroom stripped out
One of the stripped out bedrooms

The most significant work to be undertaken to the exterior of the building is the replacement of the existing single-glazed windows with new double-glazed units, as well as the replacement of the two external doors.

Proposed Elevations


We initially obtained quotes for conventional uPVC units. However, many of the properties still owned by the trust have recently had new timber windows and doors fitted, to reflect the original Erskine designs from the 60s-70s, and for a consistent appearance across the estate. The bright colours and routed details do look good:

Photograph by Westport Windows and Doors Ltd.
Photograph by Westport Windows and Doors Ltd.
Photograph by Westport Windows and Doors Ltd.

The weatherboarding needs repainting, so we plan on taking the opportunity to match the new paint job on the adjacent properties, which reflect the colours of the original scheme. There is some repointing to do where the existing timber sills and sill bricks haven’t sufficiently directed rainwater away from the building. New windows with larger integral sills should solve this issue, meaning the mortar should last longer.

In July of this year I purchased a neglected property on the Byker estate in Newcastle.

Like a lot of mid-century social housing, the layout is very generous, and there is a large amount of storage space.

There was a lot to disincentivise potential buyers; the property is still single glazed, the heating system needed recommissioning, and there is extensive decorating to be undertaken throughout. The property is also listed which potentially restricts alterations to the exterior of the building; it also requires the administrative hurdle of listed building consent (LBC).

I like the unusual nature of the property; the Byker houses appear very modern, but still feel very much like a traditional British house; with a touch of Swedish vernacular. There is a lot of potential here to do something homely yet modern.

‘Before’ pictures below:

Front (north) elevation:


Rear (south) elevation:_MG_6324

Living Room:


Dining Room:




Landing / stair:


Master Bedroom:


Bedroom 2:


Bedroom 3:




Lots of work to do…