Nicola and Adam Harvey are design aficionados, enthused by their respective jobs in interior design and property investment, so when they finally found an ambitious renovation project, they couldn’t wait to get stuck in. ‘We spent two years looking for the right house in the right location,’ says Nicola. ‘This one was completely uninhabitable, but we weren’t scared of taking on a big project.’
Read on to find out how they did it, then browse the rest of our real home transformations. Read our guide on how to cost, plan and design a double storey extension, too, for more guidance.
The owners Nicola Harvey, an interior designer (designbynicola.co.uk), her husband, Adam, who owns a property investment company, and their daughters, Mia, seven, and Summer, four.
The property A four-bedroom detached 20th-century house in Radlett, Hertfordshire.
Project cost £200,000.
With 300 square metres of space and a big garden, it isn’t hard to see why
the Harveys were drawn to the bones of the property. They sketched out ideas, drawing on their experience to push the boundaries of conventional renovation design and find ways to create visual impact. A hidden gem revealed itself in the
roof. ‘The high pitch formed a huge loft area, which would have been a waste not
to use,’ Nicola explains. ‘Rather than convert, the height sparked the idea to have
a mezzanine floor in our bedroom and a playroom above Summer’s bedroom.’
The couple also opened up the ceiling above the landing with a big roof lantern. They added to the openness by changing the staircase – making an industrial design statement in the process. ‘The original staircase split left and right onto the landing,’ says Nicola. ‘My new design is a single flight and wider by 100mm, with a steel case, open timber treads and a glass balustrade.’
Light, openness, and space form the bedrock of Nicola and Adam’s design approach. In the entrance hall, a ceiling-height sliding door closes off Nicola’s office, and glass doors link seamlessly through to the 11-metre-wide kitchen-diner-snug. Here, a four-metre, double-storey extension increases the space and has helped turn their bedroom into a luxurious sanctuary.
This master suite is the jewel in the design. ‘We wanted the wow factor so
I designed a mezzanine dressing room and staircase,’ says Nicola. ‘I found a
local firm to make both staircases as they were competitively priced.’
The demands of changing the upstairs layout meant few of the walls remain – the Harveys even sacrificed a bedroom. But the remodelled look is better balanced, showcasing four en suite bedrooms and a laundry room. ‘It made more sense to put it upstairs as this is where most of our washing is,’ says Nicola. ‘Downstairs, we have a small utility with a dishwasher and extra sink.’
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The couple enlisted designer and structural engineer Laurence Goodman, from Frampton-Martin Sage Design, to draw up their ideas. Plans for the double storey rear extension were submitted as soon as the Harveys completed on the house. The family moved in with Adam’s mum during the renovation. ‘To save money, I sourced contractors for the plumbing and heating, who conveniently had their own bathroom company,’ she says. ‘They recommended an electrician they’d worked
with before, which was great because I wanted the team to gel together.’
Nicola also found a screed company to be sure the quality and application was compatible with the concrete flooring they’d chosen. ‘We used a thin concrete product applied with a trowel,’ says Nicola. ‘We laid it on our downstairs screed subfloor and upstairs on double-layer plywood.’ Concrete became an unexpected design aesthetic elsewhere, too. ‘We decided to have a microcement metallic gold
feature wall in the dining-snug area and in our bedroom,’ says Nicola. ‘We’ve also got dark grey microcement in our downstairs loo. We bought the concrete by the square metre, and the more you buy the cheaper the unit price.’
The swathe of gold softens the utilitarian concrete and steel aesthetic, and balances out the industrial-style kitchen cupboards and stainless-steel worktops. Elsewhere, the remaining walls are painted white for a unified feel, with warmer colour accents in soft furnishings and accessories.
‘We started off wanting an industrial look but as the project progressed we’ve moved towards a Scandi minimalist feel,’ says Nicola. ‘Lighting was important, too. We spent a long time working out a plan to create layers of light.’
Nicola and Adam hosted a big family party to celebrate finishing the renovation. ‘I love the feeling of space,’ says Nicola. ‘And I particularly love the impact of our bedroom because it’s not what you would expect. The house is great for clients as they’ll come here, get ideas, and see how accessible it is to create unusual design.’