A flash of déjà vu sealed the deal for Madeleine Sanderson when she set eyes on a converted Victorian dairy less than a year ago. “I was on the brink of buying a house two doors down the road when I remembered I’d been to a party at the old dairy and thought what a wicked space it was,” she says.
The loft-style conversion that Madeleine now calls home was previously owned by a production company. “I asked if they’d consider selling it, and when they said ‘yes’ I knew the moment I walked in again that this was the path I was meant to take,” she explains.
That path, which involved creating a fresh start after a divorce, was never going to be easy but the building’s potential was clear. “It was a huge change of style and pace for me and the children because our home before was a large, traditional Victorian terrace house - though it was only a few streets away,” she says.
Luckily, the £2.4 million building’s striking structural bones were in good shape. The skylight and stairs were in place and she employed the architect who worked on the original conversion, Andrew Wells from 3W, to rearrange the layout to create a clean, contemporary family home.
In a £200,000 project, they removed what had been a ground-floor reception and pulled down walls from assorted offices to create bedrooms for each of the kids, alongside a “projector” room where they can all pile in to watch movies or do their homework. “This is the only room with a TV — I made a conscious decision not to have one anywhere else in the house. It’s amazing how much you read when you don’t have the television to distract you,” says Madeleine.
The first-floor kitchen was created by knocking three offices into one big open space. It was then unified with the open-plan living area by sanding and liming the existing pine floorboards — which are also on the stairs — to give them a paler, more subtle hue than their previous yellow colour.
The best part of Madeleine’s new start, however, has been transforming the top floor’s three editing suites into her dream “me” space with a bedroom, walk-in wardrobe and bathroom. “Even the dog knows that if the sliding glass door is shut, she has to sit on the landing and wait,” Madeleine laughs.
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Lots of hidden storage and a neutral backdrop of white and grey make for a clean and fresh space, providing the family with a streamlined modern home. “This house feels younger than me and it has really put a new spring in my step,” says Madeleine. It has also proved a brilliant canvas for bringing to life Madeleine’s collection of modern art, with works by the likes of Stella Vine, Takashi Murakami and Nick Knight filling every room with energy and fun.
“My passion for art goes back to teenage memories of my mum running her own little gallery in West Yorkshire, where she loved to spend time chatting to the locals,” says Madeleine. “At home, there was pop art everywhere, which to this day reminds me of how the house was filled with laughter and a sense of really letting go and having fun. I guess that’s what I want this house to be like, too.”
And it seems as if it has worked. The airy, white space, with views of the changing seasons through the large skylight and windows on three sides of the house, has also brought Madeleine a sense of lightness. “For the first time,” she says, “I feel really free.”
* See more of 3W’s work at 3w.org
* The full version of this article appears in the October issue of Livingetc, out now
Photographs: Paul Massey
Styling: Mary Weaver