‘From dark, dingy flats….to fresh family home’

Kerry and James Lindsay have converted and extended two flats in a Victorian terraced house to create a stylish home full of character.

After five years of living in a two-bedroom flat in South London, Kerry and James Lindsay wanted to find a home with enough space for a family.  ?We were outbid on several places before we were lucky enough to buy this one.? says James, ?but it had been converted into two flats, so it wasn?t and obvious choice.?

The top flat was in relatively good condition, but the dated, one-bedroom, ground-floor flat was far less appealing, with a poky kitchen to the rear.  The couple knew that a lot of work would be needed to turn them into one home, but they could see the property?s potential.

LONG-TERM PROJECT Kerry and James bought the flats in April 2011 and moved into the top floor. ?That?s when we started to speak to building companies about converting the loft and adding a kitchen extension,? says Kerry. ?Plus Rooms (0800 917 7127; plusrooms.com) was recommended to us by a friend and we liked that it had so much experience working with Victorian houses in the area.?

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 carefully detailed and the schedule broke down all the costs, so we were able to budget effectively.? says James.

MAKING PLANS Getting planning permission for the extenuation and loft conversion was fairly straight forward because so many homes in the neighbourhood had already been extended.  Work started in November 2011 at the top of the house and, during this time, the Lindsays moved into the ground-floor flat.

?When the builders began working on the ground floor, we moved out and rented a propertyaround the corner for eight weeks,? says Kerry.  ?We came back everyday to see what was happening and then moved back in May 2012, so the whole project too about a year and worked pretty seamlessly.?

External changes, such as installing double-glazed windows, fitting a new timber front door and reproofing in slate, were done so as to be sympathetic to the period of the property, while inside, the layout was totally remodelled.  The tiny kitchen, former dining room and loo on the ground floor where knocked together to create a large kitchen diner with living area overlooking the garden.  This space was enlarged with a wraparound extenuation on two sides and now opens out onto a terrace through bifold doors.

DIGGING DEEP New foundations were excavated for the extenuation, and internal and external walls were demolished to create the open plan layout, which meant the rear of the house needed to be supported on a substantial skeleton of structural steelwork.

?We extended out about a metre into the garden and built across the side return, which really opened up the whole space,? says James. ?Partway through the project, the builders suggested that they could dig down further to create a higher ceiling in the kitchen, which also increased the eight of our bifold doors and let in more light.?

Underfloor heating was laid under the ceramic floor tiles in the kitchen and the same white tiles , which have a non slip finish, were laid outside.  Having a flush threshold and using the same tiles inside and out makes the room feel even larger.

Upstairs, the first-floor flat was also reconfigured, with the former living room and bedroom combined to make a stunning main bedroom and ensuite.  The family bathroom has remained in the same place, but the old kitchen is now a guest bedroom.

ANOTHER LEVEL The Loft was converted to add two more bedrooms, one with a Juliet balcony.  An en-suite shower room was also incorporated beneath the sloping roof at the front of the house, with a recessed shower tray to help make the space look bigger.

?We wanted to introduce some character and chose traditional features, such as the window shutters, fireplaces and stripped floors to reflect the age of the house,? says James.  ?We enjoyed planning each room and then watching as it was transformed,? adds Kerry.  ?It was lovely to watch the house coming back to life.