Transforming a 1930s home

Adding a conservatory and a side extension has given Tina and Steve Kerr a light and spacious home with room for a stylish master suite. The four-bedroom, semi-detached house has been transformed to include a contemporary white kitchen and open-plan living/dining room

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Soon after buying their property 16 years ago, Tina and Steve Kerr did what most people do when moving to a new house and redecorated throughout to freshen it up and make it more to their taste. A couple of years later, a rear conservatory gave the Kerrs some extra space, but it wasn’t until they decided to add a side extension in 2007 that they were able to create the home they truly wanted.

‘I found out shortly after we moved in that I was pregnant with my daughter Georgia, and the house was easily large enough for the three of us,’ explains Tina. ‘The kitchen was small though, and we had always longed for a bedroom with an en suite bathroom or shower room, which the house didn’t have back then. A few years ago we considered moving, but as we loved the location of our home and it was easy for Georgia to get to school, we looked into extending to make better use of our space.’

Fact file

The owners: Tina Kerr, an artist who also works in an interiors shop, lives here with her husband Steve, a telecommunications manager, and their daughter Georgia, 16

The couple met with an architect to discuss the possibility of building above the garage to create a new bedroom, while extending behind it for a bigger kitchen and to gain more space for a utility room.

They quickly discovered that the garage would have to be pulled down and rebuilt as the footings weren’t deep enough to meet Building Regulations. ‘We were expecting this, as I believe most garages are built with shallower footings than house foundations, but it would have been a simpler job if we could have built above the old one,’ says Tina. ‘Different builders came up with various options, but we decided to go with a local building company that had been recommended.’

Once planning permission had been granted and work on the extension was underway, Tina and Steve began to look at the interior and decided to make some improvements throughout the rest of the house at the same time. ‘The building plans and consent went smoothly,’ recalls Tina. ‘The builders came up with some bright ideas, too. For example, in the kitchen part of the extension we needed a steel joist above a supporting wall, and as I didn’t want this to show in the fi nished room, they suggested a way of building hidden pillars above to support the joist so that I could have a flat, level ceiling.’

Tina knew she wanted the kitchen to be predominately white, as it had lost a side window when the utility room was built and she was concerned about the space being dark. She found a white, high-gloss design and chose contemporary white granite worktops. ‘The kitchen designer advised against having an island unit due to the limited space, but I love entertaining and really wanted one,’ says Tina. ‘The company designed a longer and thinner style than usual so it would fit in, and I decided not to have an integrated hob as I thought positioning a cooker hood above the island would block some of the light. It’s worked out perfectly; there are only three of us here most of the time, so we don’t get lots of people walking through.’

While the work was being carried out downstairs, the Kerrs had an archway taken out between the hall and the living room. This was replaced with contemporary oak veneer and frosted glass French doors, with co-ordinating oak veneer doors chosen for the other ground-floor rooms. An old fireplace in the living room was also swapped for a more modern design. ‘We had ash floorboards laid in the living/ dining room and hallway at the same time. The house was completely disrupted so it seemed like a good idea to get all the messy work done at once,’ says Tina.

Building the side extension had meant losing a window next to the staircase, and the couple wanted to prevent the landing from becoming dark and gloomy. To remedy any potential issues, they had a sun pipe fitted in the roof above to magnify daylight into the area, as well as replacing all the banisters and handrails with a light, modern design to help open up the space.

Although Steve was very involved in planning the project with Tina, he took a step back when it was time to finalise the interior design and decorating, while Tina, who’s always had an eye for art and design, made most of the decisions. ‘I was made redundant from my job in the city, so I decided to follow my dream and study interior design for two years,’ she explains. ‘Georgia was about four when I started my course. I found one locally so that it fitted in with Georgia’s school hours.’

Tina started her new career by painting murals and furniture, and working on various interior design projects with a friend. Often, though, the jobs also involved preparing rooms for decorating, so she gradually became more experienced in general decorating as well. Although she still takes commissions for painted canvases and murals, Tina now works in a local interior design shop, which is where her love of wallcoverings began.

‘I love flicking through all the sample books for inspiration,’ she admits. ‘Texture is popular now and there are lots of designs with glitter, glass beads and holographic images. I would say that the trend is moving away from feature walls to having the whole room wallpapered; if I could, I’d have wallpaper everywhere in the house.’

Tina has used one of her favourite wallpapers in the newly built master bedroom above the garage, and it adds colour and a textured appearance to the wall separating the bedroom and en suite. ‘The original plans were for a small double bedroom with a large bathroom, but as we already had a family bathroom, we decided that a small shower room would be fine for us and allow us to have the large bedroom we wanted,’ explains Tina. To add to the feeling of space, Steve came up with the idea of having a high ceiling, which gives the room its own individual style.

The high ceiling gave the couple the idea of going with a Scandinavian feel in the room, so they found a low bed and kept the walls white. To make the room feel warm and relaxing, they chose a luxurious shagpile-type carpet, and Tina’s wallpaper adds to the effect. ‘I just love it,’ she says. ‘It looks like real ponyskin and anyone coming in here can’t help touching it. They are always shocked that it has a smooth surface. It’s available in several colours but I liked this natural looking one as it matches the tone of the wooden bed.’

The couple’s extension project took seven months to complete, and even though the family lived in the chaos of a building site and managed without a kitchen for weeks, they don’t regret making such extensive changes to the house. ‘It’s the best thing we ever did,’ says Tina. ‘When I look back, it’s hard to remember how the house was when we first moved in. Everything feels so much fresher and brighter now.’

The costs

Building work and conservatory£75,000
Fixtures and fittings£30,000
Kitchen, including appliances£12,000
Doors and flooring£6,000
En suite£2,000