Moving from central London in a bid to find more space and better schools for their three children, Sarah and Ed Burgess were after a renovation project. ‘We didn’t want to pay a premium for a property that had already been done up to someone else’s taste,’ Sarah says. The couple found what they were looking for in south London – a semi-detached, Thirties house, untouched since the Seventies. ‘I was initially nervous about the warren of little rooms,’ Sarah adds, ‘but Ed thought we could reinvent it as a light and airy family home.’ The house had a tall attic area, making it ideal for conversion.
After moving in, the pair spent several months fine-tuning their ideas for the renovation, deciding to make the loft project a priority over a ground- floor extension. Architect Ed drew up the designs for the space himself, creating an open-plan layout for a bedroom, en suite and dressing area, with a compact home office tucked under the eaves. ‘We felt that getting one really decent room up there was the best idea in terms of making it our home,’ says Ed.
The couple contacted Plus Rooms, a family-run business specialising in loft conversions and kitchen extensions. Ed worked alongside the company’s structural engineer to finalise the technical details of the project. ‘there was minimal disruption to our daily lives during the build,’ says Ed. ‘the majority of the work was done from the exterior, with the builders only breaking through to the rest of the house in the final phase of the three-month construction.’
A bespoke staircase leading up to the new master suite transforms what could have been a purely functional space into an attractive storage solution. ‘I wanted it to feel as if you are walking up through a bookcase,’ Ed explains. The carpenter did a fantastic job, and I worked closely with him to decide how to use the beautiful birch plywood to best effect. The slender stairway window exaggerates the height of this elegant, contemporary space, and the landing acts as a gallery from which the top shelves can be reached.’
Elsewhere, Ed and Sarah have combined more bespoke storage, such as the drawer units in the dressing area and under the windows, with off-the-shelf designs that have been adapted to give them more of a designer feel. The wardrobes, for example, are great-value Ikea designs, but the couple have clad the backs of them in pre-finished oak floorboards to create an inexpensive room divider behind the bed that wouldn’t look out of place in a boutique hotel.
Sarah’s favourite part of the new loft is the en suite, with its large skylight over the basin and a modern window that projects out from the wall alongside the bath, providing great views. ‘It’s east-facing, so it really brings in the morning light as well,’ she says.
For Sarah and Ed, converting their loft has changed the previously dated house beyond recognition. ‘It’s such a calm and relaxing room,’ says Sarah. ‘I don’t think we’ll ever tire of lying in bed and looking out over the trees and rooftops when we wake up.’