The usual solution when you run out of space in London is to head for the home counties. The commuter belt is full of city-based professionals who put up with crowded trains in exchange for an extra bedroom and green space.
However, public relations manager Katherine Sandford-Anderson and her corporate investigator husband, Mark, both 44, decided to stay put and reconfigure their west London home to cope with their growing family — daughters Amelia, 13, Alice, 10, and a new addition, Coco the dog.
The couple bought their home in 2013 for £1.4 million and after surviving two winters with a faulty boiler and kitchen doors falling off their hinges, they moved out, the builders moved in and within a matter of weeks there was nothing left but the external and party walls and part of the first floor.
“I’m always amazed by how quickly it all comes down, but how slowly it goes back up,” says Katherine. “The builders discovered rotten floor joists and missing steel beams so it all had to come out. At one stage it was this incredible triple-height space that I was quite tempted to keep.”
Inside the west London home after the walls came down
BLOWING THE BUDGET
Their entire contingency budget was blown in the first four months but having secured planning consent they ploughed on and decided to construct a garden studio, in the footprint of the previous owner’s home office. Architect Simon Gill designed the extension to the rear of the house “in dialogue with” the garden room. “They are both clad in burnt larch and each has a dormer window with a pendant light in it.”
They also added a “pod room” — a small loft extension that sits on the walls of the rear section of the house on the third floor, to provide a bedroom for Alice. The kitchen and bespoke steam-bent oak staircase were fitted last to prevent them being damaged.
The total cost of the renovations and interior fit-out was £450,000, but the house is now worth £2.2 million, so they’ve made a potential £350,000 while avoiding the costs associated with moving house and commuting into London. Once the renovation was complete, work began on the interiors.
The chimney breasts, architraves and fireplaces had been removed by a previous owner, “so we had a blank canvas for a contemporary interior”, says Katherine. She called on her friend, interior designer Harriet Paterson (harrietpaterson.com).
Katherine had been influenced by a visit to Vitra’s Swiss HQ to see an exhibition about Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, and Milan Design Week, and fed her ideas into talks with the architect and interior designer, who pulled it all together into a style she calls “modern craft meets industrial elegance”.
Katherine adds: “I would not have been able to handle this project without Harriet. Her taste, her sense of colour and just the sheer amount of work and number of decisions is overwhelming. I have a whole new level of respect for the people in our industry.”
The finishing touch was painting and tiling the front of the property. “Coming home to that for the first time was extremely satisfying.”
A MUST-HAVE MAN CAVE
The finished result is contemporary yet playful. The materials reference the original house but with a modern twist. The feature staircase, built using traditional steam-bending techniques to create a rippling balustrade, is an experience to use as much as an object to look at.
The colour palette of plaster pinks, warm greys and inky blues, combined with a bespoke lighting plan by Alexandra Fry and a mixture of raw textures and silky-smooth finishes, create a tranquil yet hardworking house.
The multifunctional kitchen houses a desk for admin and homework, a TV snug for the children and an island where everyone can congregate.
The garden studio is a home office for Katherine as well as a space that is variously a home cinema, a “man cave” for Mark, a den for the children and an occasional guest suite. There is bespoke storage everywhere — and they didn’t have to leave London to find that space.