Real home: gaining space with a rear extension and loft conversion

Deciding against moving to a larger house, Ellie and Steve Hodgson extended the rear of their property and added a loft conversion to provide the additional space their family needed. Now, their traditional home has a contemporary feel and a more versatile layout

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After several years living in a one-bedroom flat in London, Ellie Hodgson and her husband Steve were desperate to move up the property ladder and find a home with more space, especially as they wanted to start a family in the future. High London prices, however, meant moving further out of the city if they wanted to achieve their dream.

‘To get the space we wanted, we would have had to move quite a way out of London, and then spend all our time commuting to work,’ explains Ellie. ‘After some careful consideration, we decided we’d actually prefer to move back to Leeds – where I’d grown up and Steve went to university – as this way we could afford to buy a house with more space and still get the benefits of city living.’

Fact file

  • The owners: Ellie Hodgson, a location library manager for UK Locations (, lives here with husband Steve, design manager for a construction company, and children Abigail, eight, and Hannah, six
  • The property: A semi-detached, four bedroom 1920s house
  • The location: Leeds, West Yorkshire
  • What they spent: The couple bought the house in 2004 for £210,000 and have spent around £150,000 extending it. The property has recently been valued at around £360,000



Planning the design

The couple already had a clear idea of what they wanted from the space: a large, open-plan family area at the rear of the house with a separate utility room and downstairs WC, plus a spacious bedroom and en suite in a new rear dormer loft conversion. They also planned to demolish an old garage and build a new workshop/studio space in the garden for Steve. ‘We’d spent many an evening discussing our dream space over a glass of wine, so our brief to Mark Fannon, of Jefferson Sheard Architects, was quite specific,’ recalls Ellie.

‘In Mark’s original design, the idea was that the rear extension should be “floating” off the house and only be connected with a continuous strip of glass running along the top and the side,’ she continues. ‘This was going to be extremely expensive to achieve, so we eventually decided to go for the more cost-effective solution of a separate rooflight and a large side window instead.’

The finished design also included a new living area at the rear of the extension leading out to the garden, which would be set at a lower level than the kitchen and dining space. ‘It meant we were able to work with the natural levels of the garden rather than having to build up the groundwork to create a continuous floor level throughout the space,’ explains Ellie. ‘We also liked the idea of having some separation between the kitchen and living areas, so we could relax after dinner without having to look at piles of washing-up.’


Starting the project


With planning permission approved, the couple asked several building companies for a quote, before deciding on Nest Egg Developments, a company that had been recommended by friends. The project soon got underway, with the family living on site for the first two months before moving out to a nearby rental property for four months once the builders started work inside the house. ‘With two young children, there was no way we could have lived in the house for the duration,’ admits Ellie.

With the rental property just a mile down the road, Steve was able to visit the site on a daily basis to oversee the project, something that Ellie saw as being invaluable as it meant they could both be involved in all the many decisions that are inevitable on a project of this size.

Once the building work was complete, Ellie got to work on the interior decoration of the extension. ‘Due to the open-plan feel of the space, we wanted to make sure the design and colours would work throughout each of the different zones, plus they had to be suitable for both a family area for us and the girls, as well as an entertaining space for family and friends,’ says Ellie. ‘I love Scandinavian style and Steve loves the monochrome look, so I think we’ve reached a happy compromise with the dark gloss kitchen, grey sofas and oak dining table. I wanted to bring it all together with pops of colour, so I have also introduced some mustard-yellow accessories, which work really well.’


Interior design


Upstairs, the couple had originally designed the top-floor loft extension as their master bedroom, with an en suite shower room. However, as the two girls still wanted to share a room, it felt like the obvious solution to give them the second floor. To add a sense of fun to the space, Ellie has painted a feature wall in a vibrant orange that matches the colourful bedlinen. ‘The light up here is is quite special, as we have a huge feature window with a stunning view of central Leeds,’ says Ellie. Once the girls are older and prefer to have their own bedrooms, the plan is that Ellie and Steve will move up to the top floor and have this loft area as their space, while the girls will move down to the first floor.

Elsewhere in the house, Ellie has cleverly introduced a grey palette throughout most of the rooms to create a sense of cohesion, and the family bathroom, with its modern suite and glass mosaic tiles, echoes the feel of the sophisticated master bedroom.


A finished home

Since completing the house, Ellie and Steve have been thrilled with the reaction from their family and friends. ‘From the front, the property looks fairly traditional, but as soon as anyone walks through to the rear of the house, they are amazed by the transformation,’ says Ellie. ‘The main aim of this project was always to create a fantastic family space, but an unexpected bonus is that we have actually been able to make some money from our home since completing the work, by listing the house on the UK Locations website. We’ve been amazed at the response we’ve had to having both advertising campaigns and TV commercials shot here.

‘We’ve worked hard to maximise our home’s potential, and now we have all the space we need, as well as being close to our family and friends,’ adds Ellie. ‘It’s certainly going to be our forever home.’


The costs

Ground floor extensions£74,000
Loft conversion£26,000
Furniture and decoration£6,300
Garage demolition and workshop construction£6,000
Rendering of workshop and house£5,000
Architectural fees£4,700