From loft to en suite bathroom

To increase living space, Emma and Nick Parker turned their roof area into a calm sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the house

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With three growing teenagers in residence, the rooms in Emma and Nick Parker’s Victorian semi were beginning to feel too small and the family increasingly needed more space. ‘Nick and I decided the time was right for us to move, and we started to look for a house that had spacious rooms where we could all live together without getting under each other’s feet,’ recalls Emma.

Their old home didn’t take long to sell and the buyer wanted to exchange quickly, so, having not yet seen a suitable property to purchase, Emma and Nick rented for the next eight months. ‘This put us in a strong position when we eventually found this house,’ explains Emma. ‘It had a lot of potential and there were several interested parties, but we were prime buyers with nothing to sell, so our offer was accepted and we moved in during spring 2011.’

Fact file

  • The owners: Emma Parker lives here with her husband Nick, a chief investment officer for an advertising agency, and children Jack, 17, Phoebe, 15, and Oli, 13
  • The property: A five-bedroom, detached Edwardian house
  • The location: Esher, Surrey
  • What they spent: The couple’s loft conversion project cost around £84,000

Loft conversion

Top of the list of jobs to tackle was a loft conversion and the couple invited builders to quote before they had even moved in. They knew they would have to sacrifice a small bedroom to make room for the staircase, but as they were gaining more space and the house would still have five bedrooms, the advantages outweighed the negatives. They hired A1 Lofts & Extensions to take on the project, and work started in the autumn, with plans drawn up for a master bedroom with en suite and dressing room for Emma and Nick. ‘We had originally thought of making it into two bedrooms for the boys, but the loft company said that it would be less noisy as an adults’ bedroom. It was definitely the right decision,’ says Emma. ‘The children have friends round and play music and we can’t hear them in here. If they were in the loft, I’m sure it would be a different story.’

Planning permission

Planning permission went through smoothly, despite objections from some of the neighbours; however, a setback occurred after the building work was finished. The planning permission included a Juliet balcony, but as there was a very small ledge, the builder suggested putting a strip of decking down and bringing the balcony out to make it just wide enough to stand on. ‘We applied for retrospective permission and, as it was such a minor change, we didn’t think it would be an issue, but we were turned down,’ Emma recalls. ‘It was really worrying, and we had to appeal to the Department of the Environment. An officer visited to view the work and, thankfully, it was approved. The risk paid off in the end, but it took two months before we had peace of mind.’


A Laguna freestanding bath from Plumbword fits in perfectly beneath the narrow eaves space. Porcelanosa’s Firenze Antracita feature wall tiles add interest behind and contrast with Zen Girls floor tiles, laid over underflood heating from Tiles of Wisdom

En suite

When it came to the en suite, fitting a shower into the design proved difficult due to the slope of the roof and reduced head-height. A visit to a hotel in South Africa gave Emma the idea of extending the width of the dormer from the bedroom into the en suite to create the height needed. The plans were amended before they were submitted, so the couple were able to have a roomy shower in addition to a bath. ‘We were pushing our luck wanting to fit in double basins as well,’ says Emma, ‘but I found a design with two bowls moulded into the same surface, so they don’t take up as much room as a pair of individual basins would have done.’

Interior design

Although they have kept the decoration fairly neutral, Emma wanted to add some pattern to the en suite to prevent the loft space from looking bland. She therefore included some pebble mosaic-inspired tiles in chocolate brown tones. ‘I spent ages choosing the paint for the walls, as the light changes constantly up here. In the end I went for a subtle shade throughout, but added richer tones to match the tiles, with luxurious accessories such as the faux-fur throw in the bedroom.’


The bedroom benefits from its own en suite and dressing room. The loft is accessed by a separate staircase, which replaced a small spare bedroom on the first floor

Keeping to budget

With a keen eye on the budget, the couple decided to reuse the furniture from their previous bedroom, which was still fairly new. This enabled them to invest in bespoke wardrobes and cabinetry in the dressing room. ‘To make best use of the space, the furniture had to be custom-made,’ says Emma. ‘It’s amazing how much storage we have in here, and there was even room for a small fridge! ‘It’s just like having our own hotel suite,’ she concludes. ‘Nick and I wanted our own space where we could retreat for some peace and quiet, and with the balcony doors open, we can relax and enjoy the view of the garden.’

The costs

Build costs (including windows, internal doors and balcony)£75,000
Dressing room£3,500
Bathroom fitting£2,665
Underfloor heating£275