Make sure your rooms are put in their place

The first attempt at a makeover failed but the Sheridan's second go gave them a perfect family home
Sometimes the best investment you can make is to change a property's internal layout and maximise your living space. This is exactly what Emma Sheridan and her husband, Gavin, have done with the help of an architect, Andrew Dobson. And they are now reaping the benefits.

Joe and Sophie in the kitchen with its “snacking island” surrounded by white bar stools
Light space: Joe and Sophie in the kitchen with its “snacking island” surrounded by white bar stools

The Sheridans found their four-storey 1990s house in south-west London at the end of a six-year stint in Hong Kong. "We went out as a couple and came back with three children and knew that this house would not work for us as a family," says Emma.

"There were plenty of bedrooms and bathrooms but the ground floor was very awkward." The Sheridans' first attempt at alteration ended in tears.

They lived with the problem for a few years then got brave and contacted architect Andrew Dobson via the Architect Your Home service.

Through him, they met Tor Vivian (now in partnership with Dobson), who advised on colour schemes, furnishings and artwork. Dobson suggested re-locating the kitchen in the dining room area, extending it into the conservatory and re-angling the entire area to face a spacious side garden instead of the property's rear. Best of all, he found ways to control costs.

Three large glass doors unite the living zone with the terrace
Natural light: three large glass doors unite the living zone with the terrace

"Re-designing the space within the existing kitchen and conservatory avoided over-extending the build — a big cost-saving measure — and also filled a dead space in the garden while keeping the best part for a patio and lawn," he explains.

Now divided into three areas — cooking, eating, relaxing — the ground floor is perfect for family living with zones adjacent to the kitchen for watching television, reading or doing homework so the whole family — Sam, 13, Sophie, 11 and Joe, 8, and their parents — can use the space together.

At one end there's a central cooking/snacking island surrounded by white bar-stools. A glass-topped trestle table is located mid-way, directly beneath a glass roof-light, while a modular sofa and big, squashy, Paola Lenti seats provide perches in the TV-watching area.

Emma with Joe, Sophie and Sam on the all-weather furniture in their back garden
Outside space: Emma with Joe, Sophie and Sam on the all-weather furniture in their back garden

Three floor-to-ceiling glass doors slide the entire length of the living zone, uniting it with an outdoor terrace where all-weather sofas are grouped around a paved patio.

With natural light flooding into the living area (another cost-saving measure) it's noticeable that all the interior colours work harmoniously.

The Sheridans' refurbishment cost around £168,000 and took nearly a year so it was fortunate they bonded with Mark Palmier's team of builders. "They were amazing people and did a fantastic job," enthuses Emma.

"When we originally moved in we felt the house was top-heavy. Now it works perfectly as a family house," she adds. "The refurbishment has been a very good investment and we intend to stay put for a long time."

The living room provides ample sitting space thanks to a modular sofa and big, squashy Paola Lenti seats
All modular cons: the living room provides ample sitting space thanks to a modular sofa and big, squashy Paola Lenti seats

LITTLE BLACK BOOK


* Architect Your Home: architect-yourhome.com
* Dobson & Vivian: Studio 5, Filmer Mews, 75 Filmer Road, London SW6 (020 7736 4423; dobsonandvivian.co.uk)
* Mark Palmier & Associates: (020 8677 9289; mpalmier.co.uk)
* The sliding glass doors came from Denmark and were supplied by CSGS: (01322 662006; csgs.ltd.uk)
* Hacker kitchen units from DT Kitchens: (020 7223 2026; dtkitchens.co.uk)
* Bar stools from Dwell: (0845 002 1040; dwell.co.uk)
* Modular sofa from The Sofa & Chair Company: (020 8752 8935; thesofaandchair.co.uk)
* Paola Lenti seats from Interdesign: G30 Chelsea Harbour Design Centre, SW10 (020 7376 5272; interdesignuk.biz)
* Sala dining chairs from Roche-Bobois: (020 8874 9818; roche-bobois.com)

Photographs by Mark York

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