Creating Spaces Through Refurbishment
We look at turning a typical Victorian terrace into a spacious and contemporary family home
A large proportion of the housing stock in south west London comprises of Victorian terraces, which are full of character but, with their warren of small rooms, don’t really lend themselves to modern living, particularly with a young family.
Many home-owners look to create a more desirable open-plan living space by opening up the front and back rooms into one large kitchen/diner and living area, and converting the loft into a much-needed master bedroom.
Construction, refurbishment and project management company Goodwood Fitch undertook a major renovation project of such a property in Wimbledon. Owner of Goodwood Fitch, Eugene Crighton, explains: “The goal was to create a bright open-plan space downstairs, which would also feature a downstairs toilet and a utility room. Although a slight compromise on a south facing garden, we achieved this by only partially opening up the back. And while these additions take up extra space, they are essential to today’s family life.”
“The last thing you want is your beautiful big open-plan space being cluttered with things such as ironing boards and appliances like washers and tumble-dryers. An extra sink in a utility room is also a bonus, which can be used for soaking clothes and cleaning dirty items you wouldn’t want in a kitchen sink.”
Much attention was also paid to the choice of flooring, with the same surface used throughout to create a sense of coherence. “With open-plan you don’t want anything too utilitarian yet at the same time, it has to be durable. The solution was a high-quality laminate, called Quickstep, which looks like timber and yet is waterproof.”
Carefully planned storage is also a must in open-plan living. “We added in banquette seating in the dining area, which provides extra storage space. Meanwhile, open shelving has been used in the living area so that you’re not staring at intrusive solid kitchen cupboards directly in front of you.”
Turning attention to the loft conversion, the decision was made to lower the ceiling on the first floor in order for the loft floor to also be lower. “This gives you incredible height clearance and a much bigger and brighter space – something few standard loft conversions deliver. The door at the bottom of the stairs up to the loft further enhances the sense of openness.”
Eugene notes that when undertaking these big projects, look at upgrading your essential services, such as plumbing, heating, and lighting at the planning stage. “It is better to bite the bullet now. You can help shape where you need sockets, lights or even boost your water system – for example, a decent water pressure is needed if you are having a shower fitted in your loft conversion. There is nothing worse than discovering all this when works are underway or, worse, when the decorating has been done!”
Another common mistake when renovating a property is to shoehorn in as many bedrooms as possible in the belief it adds future value. Says Eugene: “People want proper grown-up spaces now – we all travel and are used to hotel-style bathrooms so a better use of your money is an en-suite bathroom and even a dressing room rather than another bedroom.”
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