By 2009, Steve wanted to move closer to the heart of London, so he sold his place for £425,000 and rented while viewing more than 60 flats over two years. He found a top-floor maisonette in Kennington — central enough so that he could hear Big Ben chime.
It was advertised as having two bedrooms, though one was too small to justify the name. But what attracted Steve, a 44-year-old publicist with Channel 4, was a share of the freehold — ownership of the good-sized attic and the opportunity to totally refurbish.
He paid £350,000 for the 647sq ft property. His research had proved that neighbouring properties with new loft conversions were fetching a sale price of £70,000 more, so the space-creating solution was obvious.
Steve hired architect Francesco Pierazzi to draw up imaginative plans with a cube-shaped loft extension to house a master bedroom and bathroom, and open out the main floor to create a living room and kitchen, plus a guest bedroom and a study area.
After obtaining planning permission, Steve rented nearby so he could oversee the project, which took five-and-a-half months. He kept the interior décor simple, with dark oak floorboards, white walls and window blinds. The living room features a large, white, bespoke wall unit, while the modern flueless ethanol fire surround is made with grey marble.
The kitchen is an Ikea carcass, with bespoke plywood doors and counter tops in grey with a stylish splash of yellow on the wall with the fitted shelves.
Upstairs neat balustrades double as bookshelves, and the master bedroom has built-in wardrobes and storage in the eaves. It is large enough for an armchair beneath a huge picture window, which slides open to reveal the rooftops of south London.
Inserting a skylight at the top of the stairs allows for more light, while the skylight above the shower floods the bathroom with natural light.
The project extended the property by about a third to 973sq ft and cost £110,000. It is valued at between £600,000 and £650,000.
“I have invested a lot of time and energy in this project, but I have got exactly what I want. It is a home with the wow factor,” says Steve.
His top tips include thinking ahead to plan for what you really want, and to create as much storage as possible.
But one thing Steve regrets is not having sliding doors installed, which would have given him the option of using the kitchen and living rooms as one space or two separate rooms.