We started working with this lovely couple nearly a year ago; can’t believe how quickly that has flown by! They were planning their ‘final’ home move from a farmhouse near York to a 1930’s semi in Roundhay, North Leeds, in order to be closer to their family and grandchildren. The lease on the farm came to an end in September 2019 so they had the time to get the designs right, engage a recommended builder and get most of the final touches done before they moved in.
They’d already engaged an architect to draw up plans for the council planning department this time last year. But they weren’t sold on the final internal design and wanted somebody to help them re-think the layout and flow of the space. Specifically, they wanted somebody who could help them interior design and visualise the kitchen space, as they knew this was going to be the heart of their home. That’s when we started working with them!
We designed the layout and space only and they took on the process of engaging a builder, managing the build and deciding on the final fixtures and fittings themselves. But since the house is only a stone’s throw away, we’ve been able to pop back every so often to see progress. It’s been great to see it all come together for them in time to move in and it’s great to be able to share the final result with you.
This blog talks you some of the key interior design elements that we worked on and how they made such a difference to the final product vs. the original architect’s plans.
Changing the position of the kitchen
The original plans had the kitchen in the awkward cut off corner area of the new side extension. But the cut off corner had to stay due to the shape of the plot and planning requirements. With a more ‘standard’ side extension this would have absolutely fine, but the cut off corner element made it the worst place for the kitchen. Moving the kitchen to the dining room meant that they could have that fantastic sociable kitchen with island that they really wanted, enabling them to potter about together in the space. It also meant they could have a long run of floor units looking out onto the garden and the tall appliance units more discreetly placed in the corner. It also meant that they didn’t need wall units, which allows the space to feel less cluttered and brighter.
It did mean that the original chimney breast had to be removed and the kitchen plumbing and electrics moved from their original position. But given that the whole house was being totally refurbished before they moved in including re-wiring and a new central heating system and pipework, the additional cost wasn’t as high as you might imagine.
Changing the access to the garden
Moving the kitchen meant that the bifold doors that were planned from the original dining room onto the back garden had to be moved. But by moving them to the side of the house it meant that they were accessing the best part of their garden. This is the largest part of the garden and least overlooked so it’s where they are likely to spend most of their time during the summer time, as they are both keen gardeners and love the outdoors.
We originally built in some bifold doors into the design but the width of the final side extension meant that the width of the doors had to be reduced (that awkward cut off corner issue again!) and bifolds wouldn’t have made the best use of light coming into that space so we ended up agreeing on a sliding door. The drawback was that it could never be fully opened like a bifold door, but given the British summer we felt it was a compromise worth making.
Changing the access to the pantry
The original 1930’s pantry was something that we’d hoped could be demolished as part of the build but as various layers of the house were peeled back it became apparent that the pantry walls needed to stay for structural reasons. Again, another compromise that we hadn’t hoped to have to make. But what we changed to minimise the level of compromise was that the access to that pantry was changed. This enabled a dining table to be placed against the original opening and an otherwise dead wall used as the new access. This means that the space is now functioning as a kitchen, dining and living space. This is great given that the final décor hasn’t been finished in the more formal front living room. But this may change over time and the dining table moved into the new extension.
Changing the 3-door utility situation
One of the biggest bug bears that the client had was the utility room and its 3-door situation, as they called it! Having a utility room was a must, as was a downstairs toilet. However, access between those two spaces and with the rest of the extension was not enabling them to maximise the additional floorspace and really use it fully.
There was a lot of debate about which access points were most important and which doors could/couldn’t go. It was decided in the end that accessing the downstairs loo from the hallway was crucial, but accessing the utility room from the hallway was not. Oddly enough it’s something we debate a lot with clients. Given that most people’s laundry is coming from upstairs and going back there, it is sensible to minimise the journey you need to take. However, in this case it was more important to access the utility room from the new living space and the garden than it was from the hallway. But it’s something we’ll continue to debate with clients I’m sure!
Creating a more spacious bathroom
Last but not least, there was the small job of working out what to do with the 1930’s separate bathroom and toilet upstairs. Again, this is something we encounter a lot with our clients. And for this particular client the solution was relatively simple, but sometimes the best ideas are the simplest ones!
The key to success was in having a separate shower and bath, a large shower cubicle and plenty of floor space to make it feel spacious. Opening up the wall between the bathroom and toilet enabled all this to happen. But, our favourite design element in this particular room is the recessed storage/shelving in the shower. The original toilet room had a window which needed to be blocked in to fit the shower. But rather than asking the builder to block the full void we created a recess without eating into the floorspace. No more bending over for the bottles on the floor or ugly wall hanging or screen hanging units, bingo!
We are so pleased to see this couple in their fabulous new home and excited to hear that they are already enjoying the space and how it flows for how they live. The last pieces of the puzzle for them are now the front living room (which will be finished by Christmas) and garden (a job for the spring) and then their dream home will be fully realised.
If you are thinking about renovating your home or commercial space and need some help or interior design inspiration, do get in touch with us here. And don't forget to follow us via Instagram, Facebook and our upcoming blogs.
Fresh Start Living is based in Leeds, West Yorkshire and covers the surrounding areas as well as offering a remote interior design service.