‘When we started looking for a home where we could start a family, one of our main priorities was the potential for a loft conversion,’ says Jenner. ‘We were living in a one-bedroom basement flat and knew we needed to move somewhere with more room.’
The owners: Jenner Sturges, a development manager for a charity, lives here with her husband, Jonathan, an accountant, and their children Fletcher, three, and baby Adalie, 10 months
The property: A four-bedroom, mid-terraced Victorian house in Wimbledon, south London
Total project cost: £49,755
Jenner and husband Jonathan were lucky enough to find a three-bedroom terraced house in Wimbledon with a garden and spacious attic that was around £150,000 to £200,000 cheaper than identical properties a few streets away.
As the house had been rented out, it felt a little unloved, so the couple began by giving the kitchen a mini makeover with new doors, and replacing the bathroom.
It wasn’t until their son Fletcher was born that they set about converting the loft into a master bedroom and shower room. This would free up one of the first-floor bedrooms as a guest room, and give them extra space for their growing family.
Since Jenner was new to the area, she joined a Facebook group called ‘SW19 Mums Network’, which proved invaluable for recommendations from local families.
‘Lots of people suggested Regal Builders,’ she explains. ‘I went to see a couple of their projects nearby and was really impressed. They even had an in-house architect, Colin Martin, who could draw up the plans for us.’
Through the same group, Jenner also discovered interior designer Clare Altarafi, of Clare Elise Interiors. ‘She said she was looking to change careers and wanted projects to tackle for her portfolio. I jumped at the chance to be one of her first clients,’ adds Jenner. ‘I was blown away by her house when I went to meet her, so I knew she’d do an amazing job.’
Although planning permission for the new loft had already been granted, the building work was yet to start. Clare helped Jenner tweak the plans to make the best use of the space. She also recommended The Bathroom Discount Company, which came up with some layout ideas.
As Jenner’s parents often visit from Northamptonshire, the couple decided a shower room accessed off the landing would offer more flexibility than a dedicated en suite. By changing the position of the entrance door and moving the partition wall further into the bedroom, they could squeeze in a walk-in shower, too.
‘A lot of the neighbours have done similar conversions but they have corner shower cubicles,’ says Jenner. ‘I really wanted a walk-in shower as it makes the whole room feel bigger and has a lot more impact.’
Avon Matt wall tiles from Walls & Floors laid in a chevron formation give a designer look to the shower room, which also features Cemento light grey floor tiles from The Porcelain Superstore. The frameless shower panel and wall-hung basin and vanity unit are both from The Bathroom Discount Centre
Since it’s a fairly small bathroom, at 1.7 by 2.1m, Clare came up with a simple scheme to include a wall-hung basin to give the illusion of more space, and a wet room shower tray that could be tiled over.
‘We were initially going to have hexagonal wall tiles, but the plumber had already plumbed in part of the shower and they would’ve been too thick,’ says Jenner. ‘Instead, Clare suggested some oblong tiles that could be laid in a chevron formation as it gives the room detail without being too overpowering.’
When it came to planning the bedroom, Jenner opted for two Velux rooflights on the sloping roof and a large window at the rear as it’s south-facing.
‘Some neighbours have gone for French doors with a Juliet balcony, but as we’re overlooked at the rear, I decided on a wide window instead,’ she explains. ‘It also meant we could put a radiator under the window rather than on the opposite wall, which would have prevented us from having under-eaves storage.’
To pull the look together, Clare came up with a mood board inspired by Jenner’s Pinterest page. ‘I wanted a calm, simple space with a bit of a Scandi feel – nothing too fluffy or frilly,’ she says.
The grey upholstered headboard can be used to prop pictures, like this sketch from Abigail Ahern
The wardrobes Clare designed to fit the sloping ceiling, are Jenner’s favourite part of the new space. They feature oversized, chunky handles painted the same grey as the woodwork.
She also adores the graphic wallpaper in the alcove behind the dressing table. ‘It’s something I probably wouldn’t have chosen myself but it works so well to define that area,’ she says.
‘And the bespoke bedside light looks great, too. Clare picked out a bulb and flex, spray-painted a wooden bracket in copper and then got an electrician to assemble it. It only cost about £38.’
However, Jenner’s best buy is the ottoman bed. ‘Rather than having drawers, the whole bed base lifts up so it’s really accessible and you can fit lots more in,’ she adds.
Jenner has created space in the new layout for a stylish desk and chair from Cult Furniture
Although the 12-week project threw up some challenges, Jenner’s team did their best to keep disruption to a minimum. ‘They builders sealed the loft with plastic to minimise the dust coming into the rest of the house,’ she explains.
Building work: £39,000
Shower room: £3,780
Bed, headboard and mattress: £1,890
Paint and labour: £1,500
Building control fees: £700
Soft furnishings: £500
Bedside tables: £155
‘And working with an interior designer shortened the whole process. Clare saved me many hours of Googling and presented me with a few narrowed-down options to chose from. It was great to have someone to bounce ideas off and get an honest opinion from.’
The loft is now a quiet retreat that Jenner and Jonathan can escape to and relax. ‘We still have a few finishing touches to get, like a chest of drawers and some more artwork, but I couldn’t be happier with how it’s turned out and have asked Clare to help with our new kitchen extension, too,’ she adds.