Kerry and James Lindsay have converted and extended two flats in a Victorian terraced house to create a stylish home full of character.
James Lindsay lives here with his wife Kerry. They both work for investment management companies.
A four-bedroom Victorian mid-terrace house on three split levels.
WHAT THEY SPENT
The couple bought the original property as two flats in 2011 for £950,000 and have spent £250,000 extending and renovating it. The house has recently been valued at around £1.5 million.
‘We’d been living in a two-bedroom flat in south London for five years and planned to get married, so we wanted to find a home with enough space for a family,’ says James Lindsay. ‘There’s a real shortage of family homes in this part of London, with a huge amount of buyers for every seller, which meant that we were outbid on several places before we were lucky enough to buy this one. It had been converted into two flats, so wasn’t an obvious choice, but we loved the area – which is between Wandsworth and Clapham Commons and has some great shops and schools.’
The flats were owned by two different individuals, but the estate agent suggested that Kerry and James could buy both and convert them back into a single terraced house. The top flat was in relatively good condition but the dated one-bedroom ground floor flat was far less appealing, with a pokey kitchen to the rear.
‘We bought them in April 2011 and moved into the top floor flat,’ says Kerry. ‘That’s when we started to speak to different building companies about converting the loft and building a kitchen extension to add more space. Plus Rooms were recommended to us by a friend, and we liked the fact that they had so much prior experience working with Victorian houses in the area. They showed us various designs on their iPads, which helped us to visualise exactly what we wanted.’
The family-owned design and build company specialises in kitchen extensions, loft conversions and whole house renovations in and around London, offering a fixed price service which the Lindsays found appealing.
‘Everything was really carefully detailed, and we received a schedule which clearly broke down all the costs and payments so that we were able to budget effectively,’ says James.
Achieving planning permission for the extension and loft conversion proved to be relatively straightforward, because so many homes in the area had already been extended, and Wandsworth Council processed Plus Rooms’ planning application in just eight weeks. Work started in November 2011 with Plus Rooms’ builders beginning at the top of the house, during which time the Lindsays moved into the ground floor flat, where they remained living for the next three months.
‘When they needed to start work on the ground floor flat we moved out and rented a property around the corner for eight weeks,’ says Kerry. ‘We came back every day to see what was happening and then moved back in while Plus Rooms were finishing off in May 2012, so the whole project took about a year and worked pretty seamlessly.’
Double glazed timber sliding sash windows were installed which replicate the original single glazed versions; a new timber front door was fitted and the property has been completely re-roofed in slate. Externally the front of the pretty brick house remains virtually unchanged, but inside the layout was totally remodelled.
A partition wall between the sitting room and the neighbouring bedroom was removed to open this into an airy double reception room with a bay window at the front of the house, where working timber shutters have now been fitted. ‘The mouldings in here had been damaged so a specialist company was employed to repair and replace cornicing and ceiling roses,’ James recalls.
Original floorboards were retained and have been stripped and treated before being stained and varnished to a rich brown. One of the open fireplaces is fully functional and the other is decorative, acting purely as a focal point.
The tiny kitchen, former dining room and WC were combined to create a spacious kitchen/dining/family room overlooking the rear garden, which opens onto a suntrap terrace through glass bifold doors and has been enlarged with a wrap-around extension on two sides. ‘It was a last minute decision to do away with the ground floor toilet, but we decided that it made more sense to have a larger, more regular-shaped kitchen,’ says Kerry.
New foundations were excavated for the extension, and internal and external walls were demolished to create the open plan layout, which meant that the rear of the house needed to be supported on a substantial skeleton of structural steelwork. This has become an interesting feature in the kitchen, where the steels are clad in plasterboard and painted white to blend with the rest of the room. Two frameless rooflights inset into a section of flat roof also drop natural light into what was previously the side-return passageway.
‘We extended out about a metre into the garden and built across the side return, which really opened up the whole space,’ says James. ‘Part way through the project the builders suggested that they could dig down further to create a higher ceiling in the kitchen, which also increased the height of our bi-fold doors and lets in more light.’
The newly built external side wall has been left unplastered internally to create an exposed brick feature behind the kitchen table – introducing colour and texture to the predominantly white room. ‘We chose London stock bricks, and the blend of colours looks like an old garden wall,’ says Kerry.
‘There’s underfloor heating under the ceramic floor tiles in the kitchen, with the same white tiles laid outside, which have a non-slip finish. Having a flush threshold and using the same floor tiles inside and out makes the room feel even larger, and was an idea we got from the Plus Rooms website.’
Upstairs, the first floor flat has also been totally reconfigured – with the former sitting room and bedroom combined to form a stunning master bedroom and luxurious en suite bathroom. Original floorboards were given a makeover, and a former fireplace now makes an unusual focal point which Kerry and James have filled with logs.
The family bathroom remained in the same position but the old kitchen is now a guest bedroom, with a brick chimney breast exposed to one wall. A small second bedroom is currently used as a home office, where the boiler for the new central heating system is also housed. ‘We chose a Megaflo hot water system because you get equally high pressure in every room without the need for a cistern,’ says James.
The loft has been converted to add a further bedroom with a Juliet balcony and a sloping ceiling inset with two rooflights above the bed. A fantastic en suite shower room was also incorporated, including a recessed shower tray and a glass screen which help to visually maximise the space.
‘We funded the work privately and enjoyed planning each room and then watching as it was transformed,’ says Kerry. ‘It was ice to see the back of the poky kitchens and dated bathrooms and to watch the house coming back to life.’
The couple visited furniture fairs and shopped online to find quirky fixtures and fittings, and the result is a stylish home which has been beautifully furnished. Large mirrors reflect the light and the combination of contemporary and traditional features brings the house bang up to date without losing any of its charm.
‘We wanted to introduce some character, and chose more traditional features like the window shutters, fireplaces, and stripped floors to reflect the age of the house,’ James explains. ‘Using a single design and build company definitely took the pressure off and allowed us to enjoy the fun parts of the project.’
Our project notes
Our favourite store
‘We made the decision to use Farrow & Ball paints throughout the house and really love the subtle colours and the quality.’
The best buy…
‘Our Schuco bifold doors weren’t cheap but they totally transform the rear of the house and open the kitchen up to the garden.’
Our biggest extravagance…
‘The loft en suite shower room was the first room we completed, so we spent quite a lot on the finishes, including the large green glass tiles which were imported from Italy. Towards the end of the project we tried to cut corners by choosing cheap taps and shower heads, but we ended up replacing them so learnt a lesson there.’
Our favourite part of the house
‘The new kitchen area, because it’s so bright, and we have a TV and sofa in there which makes it great at all times of the day.’
Is there anything you would change?
‘We’d invest in old fashioned column radiators because the new panel ones we chose are pretty ugly, and although we’ve tried to use radiator covers to disguise them they’re not a very energy efficient solution.’
‘You have to form a really solid relationship with your building firm, because if you don’t get on with them from the start then it can be very easy to fall out. We knew that there would be a few hiccups along the way, but generally it was a pleasure and we’ve had an amazing service from Plus Rooms long after they finished on site.’
Design and build package Plus Rooms, 0800 917 7127 www.plusrooms.co.uk