Converting a loft to create a master suite

Sarah and Russell Shore extended upwards to gain much needed space for their growing family, converting their loft space into an extra bedroom and en suite.

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Sarah and Russell Shore extended upwards to gain much needed space for their growing family, converting their loft space into an extra bedroom and en suite.

‘Finding out we were expecting a second set of twins made us realise we were going to need as much space as possible,’ says Sarah, who moved into the period cottage with husband Russell in 2004.

’When we bought the house, a property developer had already done some of the work by replacing the old roof and re-painting and re-carpeting throughout,’ she continues. ‘We then added a more characterful period kitchen and brought the house to life through decoration and furnishings that reflected our tastes.’

With a host of original features, such as stone brick flooring, doors and a woodburning stove, the couple loved the look and feel of the property. While they were keen to gain space for an extra bedroom and bathroom, Sarah and Russell thought that an extension would spoil the pretty exterior of the cottage. Instead, a loft conversion seemed a good way of creating additional rooms without affecting the exterior too much.

Rather than going straight to a loft conversion company for advice, Sarah and Russell felt they should have their own architectural plans drawn up first, which enabled them to be heavily involved with the design. ‘We did consider having one big open-plan room with a bath as part of the bedroom,’ explains Sarah, ‘but we then decided to include a basin and WC and felt it was only right to make the two spaces separate.’

The couple’s architect explained that in order to fit a staircase to the loft, they would need to have a dormer window fitted to allow for extra head-height, so they incorporated this into the design.

Fact file

The owners: Sarah Shore lives here with her husband Russell, a director of a management consultancy, and their two sets of twins Matilda and Rose, four, and Lottie and Ralph, two

Although the conversion required planning permission, fortunately this was very straightforward and was granted without any problems. Sarah and Russell approached A1 Loft Conversions to quote for the job, and once prices had been agreed, the work started with the installation of the dormer window and a new staircase. ‘We were lucky enough to have a fairly spacious landing on the first floor, so we didn’t have to lose any bedroom space to allow for the staircase,’ explains Sarah. ‘We had it made to the minimum head-height allowed, to prevent the dormer from being too big.’

The couple chose a dormer window and roofl ights that were in-keeping with the period of the house. ‘We had rooflights fitted by a company that had been recommended by our neighbours. The windows are low-profile with a traditional appearance,’ says Sarah. Wooden window sills, stained in a medium oak shade, were added to complete the classic look.

The couple had hoped to fit a shower in their new bathroom, but soon realised there wouldn’t be enough head-height, so decided to go for a statement bath instead. The positioning of the WC also proved to be a problem. ‘It became apparent that there wouldn’t be enough head-height for this either in the position that we wanted. Russell came up with the idea of bolting to the wall a couple of the old wooden beams that had been removed, then attaching the WC to bring it forward,’ explains Sarah. ‘In fact, it has become a real feature, and we don’t have to be worry about banging our heads.’

The whole house had been previously updated with a pressurised water system, so the couple didn’t have to worry about the water pressure in the loft. With the shower no longer an option, the couple started to think about the interior. ‘Russell wanted a copper bath and this became the starting point for the scheme,’ says Sarah. ‘We shopped around on the internet and found that the prices varied greatly. Some were nearly £6,000 but we were delighted when we found one for around £2,000.’

As the couple sourced a lot of the materials themselves to keep down costs, and Sarah admits that it became a hobby for the couple, they were happy to look for stylish budget buys to work with the investment bath. ‘It’s like fashion – you can choose one designer piece and dress it with accessories from the high street,’ she explains. ‘The bath was quite costly, but the Venetian mirror was a bargain at £35.’

Although wooden flooring may not always be practical for bathrooms if it continually gets wet, the Shores decided that as their bathroom was only going to be used by the two of them, and there was no shower, they could take a little extra care around the bath to prevent water damage. To continue the period feel, they chose fl ooring made from reclaimed wood and found that it was much less expensive than laying new flooring. The builders finished the floorboards with a protective varnish to keep them in good condition.

The loft conversion was finished a few weeks before the twins were born, and the bedroom and bathroom have become a relaxing space for the couple, away from the hustle and bustle of busy family life. ‘It’s a wonderful place for us to wind down at the end of a long day,’ smiles Sarah.

The costs

Building work and installation£48,000
Fixtures and fittings£3,260