Victorian extension project

Pauline and Peter Tulloch have extended their house to create a stylish, light-filled home with a mix of modern and classic features. The single storey extension at the rear of the house has increased their living space whilst maintaining the overall period character of the house

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After months of searching for her dream property, Pauline Tulloch saw a Victorian cottage for sale in a local newspaper. It was in the south of Nottingham.

‘It’s in the middle of a terrace of three in a quiet lane,’ says Pauline, who now lives there with husband Peter. ‘It was viewed by 35 people the weekend it went up for sale, but I was determined to buy it. I put in an offer for the full price, which was accepted.’

Pauline had moved from a small village in the north of Birmingham, so she was used to quiet village life. Although her new home needed to be redecorated, it was perfectly liveable until she could find the budget to renovate it to her liking.

‘When Peter moved in here we started putting together ideas on how to improve the cottage and create more space,’ says Pauline. ‘I enjoy buying home interiors magazines and watching property programmes, so I had a fair idea of what we could achieve.’

Fact file

The owners: Pauline Tulloch and her husband Peter, who are both civil servants

When the couple eventually decided to start their renovation project, they called in an architect to draw up plans for a loft conversion and a single-storey extension at the rear of the house. However, as the cottage was in a conservation area, it wasn’t easy obtaining planning permission.

‘Our architect’s plans for the single-storey ground floor extension were rejected by the council,’ Pauline explains, ‘so we decided to go ahead with just the loft conversion.’

The project was to be a 12-week build – but it took several more months because of delays in the building work, which meant it went over budget.

Pauline and Peter thought the loft conversion was an ideal opportunity to remodel the upstairs space and create a new en suite master bedroom in the loft. The first floor was redesigned to form a new guest bedroom, dressing room and luxury en suite wetroom.

‘We had planned to use the new loft space as the guest bedroom, but it was such a gorgeous space that we decided to make it the master bedroom,’ says Pauline.

Their new en suite master bedroom is reached via a spiral staircase on the first floor, which features sensor spotlights that switch on automatically.

‘The lights respond to any movement,’ Pauline explains. ‘They are particularly handy when you need to go downstairs during the night.’

Pauline wanted to make a feature of a freestanding roll-top bath in the bedroom, placing it parallel to the bed – an idea she picked up from their travels abroad.

‘We went on holiday to South Africa and noticed that the bedroom in the hotel had freestanding bath, which I thought looked wonderful,’ says Pauline.

The couple returned from holiday and, as the spiral staircase hadn’t yet been fitted, they were able to alter their design plans and include a roll-top bath, which could still be easily lifted into the bedroom.

‘Peter was unsure about having the bath in our bedroom, but I managed to persuade him that it would look great. He painted it in the bright pink shade I chose – and now calls it the Barbie bath.’

Pauline chose pink blinds and cushions to tie the look together. White walls and bedlinen create the ideal backdrop, as does the white en suite bathroom, with its corner shower and compact WC.

‘It’s a wonderful room for chilling out, especially when I lie back in the bath and look up at the night sky through the Velux windows in the roof,’ says Pauline.

In their new guest bedroom, the couple made use of furnishings that had been in the sitting room.

‘We knew we were going to redecorate downstairs, so we put the sitting room’s zebra-print footstool and matching cushions plus some purple cushions in there,’ she explains. ‘We painted the chimney breast in the same purple shade as the sitting room to add drama and chose the same faux wooden tile flooring as the master bedroom to lighten the look.’

Pauline and Peter consulted a specialist bathroom company about the design of the dressing room and wetroom.

‘We knew gloss finish cabinets would reflect light in this relatively tight space,’ says Pauline. ‘We also wanted neutral colours that wouldn’t date and chose dark wood, which is a nice contrast to the white.’

The mirror in the wetroom creates the illusion of a larger space, while wall-hung features such as the WC and double basin produce a streamlined feel.

When the loft conversion and upstairs remodelling were complete, the couple decided to commission an architect to devise new plans for a ground floor extension that would be acceptable to the local authority.

A friend recommended that they try Tracey Longworth Associates.

‘We’d heard that she had a good working relationship with the council and plenty of experience,’ says Pauline. ‘She drew up plans that were in keeping with the Victorian character of our cottage and, fortunately, this time they were accepted by the council.’

By extending the living space by three metres with a timber frame extension, it doubled the living area on the ground floor. Tracey flooded the new space with light by including four skylights and a triple set of folding doors leading out to their pretty garden.

Here, in the living area, contemporary pieces blend successfully with the room’s classic furniture and accessories.

‘I had envisaged a chaise-longue in here, but when the timber frame went up I knew it wouldn’t look right, so I chose two chairs,’ says Pauline. ‘On the far side of the room, the purple sofa creates a good contrast to the white chairs, with purple echoed on the chimney breast to add warmth.’

In order to position the sofa in the corner, the door that originally led through to the kitchen had to be blocked up and repositioned adjacent to the chimney breast, while glass panels were added to the original staircase so that it would meet fire regulations.

Low-maintenance fixtures have been chosen for the cottage, such as the heated travertine floor, which is easily wipeable, and the oak doors and oak staircase just need a simple oiling to maintain the sheen.

Although the kitchen and utility room were already a good size and didn’t need to be remodelled, the couple decided to update the existing glossy pine kitchen with new units.

‘We were about to order a new kitchen when a leaflet came through the door advertising tailor-made kitchens at flat-packed prices,’ says Pauline. ‘We invited the company, Unlimited Kitchens, to measure up and they created an identical kitchen design to the one we were going to buy – but at half the price.’

Their new Shaker-style kitchen in pale green has been teamed with a large dining table that can seat up to eight, making it a perfect place for entertaining.

‘Peter’s a great cook, so we hold lots of dinner parties in here,’ says Pauline. The ground floor extension, including the plastering, kitchen fitting and decorating took four months.

‘Although we did go over budget, it was an informed decision. For example, we chose to have oak bi-folding doors rather than hardwood, which increased the cost, but it set a precedent for the type of wood we used throughout the downstairs layout,’ says Pauline. ‘All the internal doors had to be changed to oak, as well as the kitchen worktops and cupboard under the stairs.’

Pauline admits that the extension projects and remodelling were hard work. ‘But we’re thrilled with what we’ve achieved – it looks and feels like a relaxing home, which is also very stylish,’ she smiles.


Building work and materials upstairs£25,000
Building work and materials downstairs£30,000
Wetroom/dressing room£14,400
Architect’s and surveyor’s fees£2,625