Having rented flats in the Kilburn area of London, Emily and Angus discovered Finsbury Park while staying with friends in nearby Holloway. ‘We viewed a lot of properties that were the finished article, but we wanted to be able to do the work ourselves so that we could create a home exactly to our tastes. When this place came up and we saw it had a garden, we knew it was the right fit,’ recalls Emily.
The couple had viewed so many Victorian terraces before this one, that they had a clear vision for how it could be improved. ‘I knew from the outset that we would extend back into the garden and out into the side return,’ adds Emily.
A kitchen/dining/living space was to be housed in the new extension, with bi-fold doors providing access to the garden for indoor-outdoor entertaining. ‘We wanted an open space and to get away from the small rooms you often find in Victorian houses,’ says Emily. ‘For us, there was no reason to have a separate kitchen and living space.’ A bedroom that was previously located at the rear of the property was moved to the former living room at the front, as the couple no longer needed a separate living space.
Because it was their first home-improvement project, Emily and Angus enlisted the services of Build Team, a firm that offers a complete design and build service. ‘We might do things differently if we were to tackle another project, but at the time, and in the absence of any recommendations from friends and family, it was the best option,’ says Emily. The company drew up plans that realised Emily’s ideas and they were able to navigate the planning process smoothly, despite the flat being in a Conservation Area.
Due to the layout of the flat, the couple knew they wouldn’t be able to extend all the way along the side return and, instead, had to use some of the space to create a courtyard that would allow daylight into the other rooms. ‘It has created an L-shaped, open plan space, which works really well for us,’ continues Emily.
The owners: Emily Grierson, a GP, and husband Angus, who works in corporate finance, live here
The property: A two-bedroom, ground-floor flat in a Victorian terraced house in Stroud Green, London
The project: The couple’s extension project cost £68,000
Before, the flat had a cramped, dark kitchen and no link to the garden.
Emily and Angus extended to the rear and partially into the side return with a modern design. Rather than adding a flat roof to the side-return extension, Build Team introduced architectural interest and light to the space with a pitched roof featuring three large rooflights. Angus built the pizza oven himself.
Instead of extending to fill the whole side return, a courtyard garden was included to provide natural light to the kitchen and bedroom behind.
When it came to decorating the space, the couple were influenced by their love of Scandinavian design, but opted to incorporate both traditional and industrial touches, too.
Velux rooflights flood the living area with natural light. Monty sofa, Loaf. Cushions, Niki Jones, Graham & Green and Lou Gardiner. Spun Done gold floor lamp, French Connection. Prints, Lou Gardiner
The living/dining space links to the garden through bi-fold doors by Build Team. An exposed London stock brick wall was laid with a deliberately messy finish for an industrial look.
Shelving system, String. Dining table, Peppermill Antiques. J77 chairs, Hay. Cohen pendant lights, Heal’s. Bobble rug, Loaf. Pouffe, Bodie & Fou
A space for indoor-outdoor entertaining was top priority for the couple, who specified a level threshold for seamless access to the garden.
Anders armchairs, West Elm
As the ceiling in the kitchen is lower, the couple opted for shelving, rather than wall units, to add to the feeling of space.
Laxarby units, Ikea; painted in Tempest, Fired Earth. Marble worktops, Carrara Marble. Handles, Onlinehandles.com. Metro wall tiles, Tons of Tiles. Floorboards, Authentic Reclamation; finished with Woca softwood lye and white oil, The Floor Sanding Company of London
‘We combined Scandi designs with a mix of traditional pieces,’ Emily, homeowner
- Hotpoint Luce chimney cooker hood in stainless-steel finish, H70xW60xD50.5cm, £299, Currys
- Orange Darts cotton cushion, £25, Hunkydory Home
- Miko Saffron cotton pouffe, H35xW70xD70cm, £160, John Lewis
- Nordic dining table, made from reclaimed hardwood and iron, H76.5xW200xD90cm, £749, Shropshire Design
- Portmeirion 0.8ltr porcelain pitcher, £29, John Lewis
- Cohen large aluminium ceiling pendant in Grey, H29xDia.32cm, £195, Heals
- Marble Veneto laminate worktop, W60xL300xD4cm, £78, B&Q
- Halston armchair in Teal Weave fabric with birch frame, H81xW79xD93cm, £349, Made
- Design and construction: Build Team, 020 7495 6561, buildteam.com
- Kitchen: Ikea
- Worktops: Carrara Marble
- Flooring: Authentic Reclamation
- The full feature appears in the April 2016 issue of Real Homes. For back issues, call 01527 834435. Subscribe today to take advantage of our money-saving subscription offers.
Photographer: Build Team