Sarah and James love the outdoors, so the chance to buy a spacious semi-detached house backing onto woodland in north London was too good an opportunity to miss.
The owners: Sarah Paul, who is currently studying, and her husband James, a hedge fund manager, live here with their 11-year-old daughter Teresa and their two Siberian cats
The property: A six-bedroom, Edwardian semi-detached house in north London
Total project cost: £320,000
But despite the desirability of the property’s location, the interior left a lot to be desired and the couple knew it would need extensive work if it was to become their dream home.
‘In the past, the house had been divided up into flats, and although the previous owners had converted it back into a single dwelling, it hadn’t been done very successfully,’ explains Sarah. ‘The layout felt very higgledy piggledy and there was no sense of flow between each of the different spaces.’
The existing basement kitchen, located in the centre of the lower-ground floor, was a key problem area, with little light and no link to the outdoors. Sarah and James wanted to extend the rear of the house and relocate the kitchen to the new space, where it could benefit from views of the garden.
As the couple planned to renovate other parts of the house at the same time, they decided to continue living in their previous home on a nearby street for the duration of the work.
‘We’ve lived through a renovation project before and didn’t want to repeat the experience,’ says Sarah.
‘We wandered up and down nearby streets and wrote down the names of the architects listed on the boards of homes having building work done, then checked their websites and arranged to meet the ones we liked most,’ explains Sarah. They settled on Andrew Mulroy of Mulroy Architects, and commissioned their builders through the company, too.
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The builders excavated and extended the cramped basement to remove the split-level structure, creating room for an open-plan kitchen-diner extension. High ceilings to one side of the room increase the feeling of space, while a glazed section of roof allows light to flood the room. The modern materials and contemporary sliding doors mean the new addition stands out against the original period property, creating an eye-catching combination of styles.
'We only extended around two metres from the rear of the house, but the extra height makes the entire space feel much bigger than it actually is,' says Sarah. 'Thanks to the extensive glazing and full-height doors, the garden feels like an extension of our home.'
When it came to the fixtures and fittings, Sarah and James decided on a sleek, minimalist look to suit the architecture of the extension. ‘There are very few period features left in the house because previous owners ripped them out, so we decided to keep the area contemporary,’ says Sarah. They finally settled on elegant units in subtle tones of grey from Poggenpohl.
‘We’ve always liked mixing shades of the same colour and grey allows you to do that really easily,’ explains Sarah. ‘It also contrasts well with brighter colours, like the vibrant green bar stools.’
An extra-wide modern induction hob suits the clean lines of the grey worktops, while a contrasting chunky wooden work surface defines the raised breakfast bar area on the island unit.
The modern, light-filled space Sarah and James have created is a far cry from the dark and dated rooms of the original layout.
With contemporary glazing opening up views of the garden and the woodland beyond, the couple can finally fully enjoy the impressive outlook that first drew them to the property.
‘It’s a fantastic space that doesn’t just look great,' says Sarah, 'it also works really well for modern family life.’
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Architects Mulroy Architects
Kitchen Poggenpohl Kitchens