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Rebuild our home

The fire that destroyed their home

avatar of Ciaran Mcguire

by Ciaran Mcguire

A Scottish family was celebrating Christmas Day, 2013, at home when a fire all but destroyed the property. In an ITV documentary, Nicky Campbell and interior designer Julia Kendell transformed the house with Hillarys’ help.

The fire that destroyed their home

Joe and Mary Bruce were celebrating Christmas at their home in Johnstone, near Glasgow, with their daughter Sharon, her husband and their three children.

Just after lunch, the whole family was relaxing in the front room, when Sharon heard a strange noise coming from the ceiling. She went upstairs to investigate and was confronted by a flaming fire and plumes of smoke.

Sharon ran down the stairs, told the family and got everybody out of the house. All seven of them escaped safely, but with nothing other than the clothes on their backs.

A neighbour called the fire brigade, who managed to put out the flames. Joe and Mary had lost absolutely everything; if it wasn’t burnt, it was ruined by smoke or water.

During the show, Joe said: “The most important thing was to get out – I was terrified to tell you the truth.”

Joe and Mary’s dreams for their rebuilt home

Joe and Mary were devastated. The couple had spent 43 years in their home and it was packed with memories. Ahead of the rebuild, Joe said: “There are certain things we won’t be able to get back – I just hope there are some things.”

And there would be many things.

The Rebuild our Home team was determined to save as much as possible from the old house and to imbue the new design with a sense of Joe and Mary’s personality. They made it a priority to restore a decades old rocking horse for the youngest grandchild and to salvage as many photos as possible, while commissioning custom pieces inspired by the family.

Of course, there was a lot that had to be completely redone: not so much a refurbish as a rebuild.

Interior designer Julia Kendell was brought into oversee the project. She decided to build a bay window in the living room and dress it with shutters from Hillarys, as well as providing plenty of comfy seating.

The team extended the kitchen into an open-plan dining space and finished the room with an island and patio doors. Upstairs, the bedroom was decorated wonderfully and Julia created a playroom for the grandchildren, completed with an artist-painted, glow-in-the-dark night sky.

Lounge with shutters View shutters

The new living room, complete with bay window and stunning shutters.

Bedroom shutters View shutters

Joe and Mary’s gorgeous new bedroom.

The tears – of happiness

Nine months after the fire, Joe and Mary returned to their rebuilt home.

As she walked up the drive, Mary was struck by the bay window and the shutters. “Look at the windows – shutters as well, lovely,” she said.

Inside, the couple were given a tour of their new home.

The furnishings, the photographs, the shutters, the custom artwork, the wallpaper, the carpets, the beds, the appliances … everything brought a smile to Joe and Mary’s face and the whole package brought tears of happiness to their eyes.

“All week, I’ve kept saying it’ll probably be lovely, but I’ll still feel kind of down [about the old home]. But I’m ready to explode with the boost I’m getting,” said Mary. “It’s wonderful. I’m just looking forward to being in the house and it being my home again.”


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