When Lisa and partner Alex first viewed this house, it had been converted into bedsits and was in a ‘horrible’ state. Luckily, they could see its potential and put in an offer straight away.
The owners: Lisa Noble and Alex Bramwell, who are both solicitors, live here with their cats, Cleo and Mia
The property: A three-bedroom mid-terrace Victorian house in south-east London
Total project cost: £80,540
‘It took six months for the tenants to move out, and when we finally walked inside we wondered what on earth we’d done because it was damp and cold with a leaking roof,’ laughs Alex. ‘We’d never renovated a house before, so it was a huge challenge.’
The original kitchen, which was located at the centre of the ground floor, posed a major challenge. ‘It felt cut off from the rest of the house with no links to the garden,’ adds Lisa.
‘We had a vague idea of how we could change it, but then an architect friend drew up some plans which involved relocating the kitchen into a side-return extension at the rear, which made perfect sense.’
Lisa and Alex worked with Plus Rooms to build the extension on their Victorian home
The couple contacted five local building companies, including design and build specialists Plus Rooms, who had been recommended to them. Impressed by the company’s quote, and the fact that they could undertake virtually every aspect of the project for them, Lisa and Alex handed over their plans.
The plans were tweaked and redrawn, and the neighbours served with Party Wall notices, as the new extension would be built right up to the plot boundary.
No planning consent was required as the size of the extension fell within permitted development rights. ‘The garden isn’t that big, so we didn’t want to extend out to the rear, and we could see that filling in the side return would create enough space for a large kitchen-diner,’ adds Lisa.
Before work began, a mini kitchen was installed in the couple’s lounge, with a sink, washing machine and fridge, so they could carry on living in the house during the build.
‘Plus Rooms thought of everything, including temporary cat flaps,’ says Lisa. The first stage of the project involved excavating new foundations for the brick and block extension.
The dining table was found upside down in the mud at a reclamation yard and cost £10. The chairs came from an antiques market; for similar, try Cult Furniture
Structural steelwork was then installed and internal walls demolished, with the bricks retained to be reused for some of the new external cavity walls.
‘I remember coming home from work one day to find the entire back of the house down, where our bi-fold doors were going to be fitted,’ she adds.
‘It was really tough living on a building site over the winter, so we visited family and friends as much as we could at weekends.’
Bi-fold doors from 1st Folding Sliding Doors open out onto a decked area that's ideal for summer entertaining
A wall between the new dining area and one of the neighbouring houses was painstakingly stripped back and exposed for an industrial feel. The builders removed most of the old plaster then Lisa and Alex spent hours chiselling and hand-sanding the bricks themselves, which have since been sealed.
Building work: £50,000
Cabinets, island and painting: £11,200
Sliding doors: £5,850
Parquet floor and fitting: £4,400
Range cooker £2,800
Sink and taps £700
Parquet flooring, reclaimed from a convent, was laid by a local specialist as the original floorboards and some of the supporting joists were rotten and could not be saved.
‘We received beautiful samples of the flooring to choose from, and then around a ton of filthy blocks arrived, covered in tar, which took five days for us to clean and lay,’ laughs Lisa.
The simple wooden kitchen came primed ready for painting, and after trying a number of tester pots, Alex and Lisa chose Little Greene’s Basalt – an inky blue shade.
Kitchen company Harvey Jones installed and painted the cabinets, and another company then cut and fitted the hard-wearing quartz worktops. After that, the Plus Rooms finishing team came back and completed all the decorating and tiling to finish the space.
A sloping ceiling, inset with fixed frameless rooflights, was built into the side-return extension by Plus Rooms, dropping light onto the Domo Direct quartz worktop and Falcon Continental range cooker below
Alex and Lisa took charge of designing the interior, searching for ideas online and compiling Pinterest boards. They found a local craftsman who made the open shelving, handles for the kitchen doors and part of the stunning bespoke light above the long island unit.
‘Our biggest disaster turned out to be the very expensive kitchen taps, which were custom made from vintage parts by an Ebay seller,’ admits Alex. ‘Although beautiful to look at, they are completely impractical because they’re so tall that they leak and splash water everywhere.’
Reclaimed flooring from Parquet Parquet was laid in the new kitchen-diner. A hardwood Harvey Jones kitchen was painted in Little Greene’s deep Basalt blue. The light above the island was made by an electrician using a bespoke copper bar made by Steel Roots Design, with bulbs from Dunelm. Floral sofa, Arlo & Jacob. American fridge-freezer, John Lewis
Overall, the project has been a resounding success, and the couple now enjoy entertaining family and friends in their stylish new kitchen.