A perfect match on Design for Me… for a full refurbishment of an ex-council house
The client, Bernadette was looking for an architect to transform her out-dated, tired council house into a modern, light-filled home. After registering her project on Design for Me, with just a few key details, we matched her with the best candidates and she received interest from a number of architects.
Since completion, her new home has been shortlisted for the British Home Awards – Home transformation of the year!
Bernadette’s project description
“I am in the process of purchasing an end of terrace house near Bermondsey station in London, built in 1982. The freehold property has front and back gardens and plenty of natural light. It needs to be modernised.
There is lots of space out the back. If I could get planning, I’d like to extend from the kitchen and living room.
There is currently a dining room that leads into a narrow kitchen. I would want to open this into one big room. At the moment, the kitchen is very narrow but there is lots of space under the stairs and in cupboard that could be opened up.
The two bedrooms both have low ceilings. I’d be interested in going into the roof, though this could be an issue budget wise. At a minimum, I’d want to rearrange the bedrooms so that the storage is in the eaves.
I’d like wooden floors as much as possible, minimalist design, maximise use of space (e.g. sliding doors for wardrobes). The bathroom and toilet are separate at the moment. They’re old fashioned and would need to be modernised.“
Bernadette chose to speak with several architects via Design for Me, including Anamaria and Bogdan, who run a practice in the local area.
I retained the architectural services of Ana and Bogdan having placed a call for proposals on Design for Me. I reduced a longlist to three prospective architects and selected Ana and Bogdan after the first meeting.
That meeting lasted around two hours and already I could see how engaged they were with the potential of the property. They listened to my requests, outlined their own vision, and paid attention to the detail. The references they provided reinforced this.
Anamaria and Bogdan:
After the client invited us for a consultation through Design for Me, we set a meeting to see the property and discuss their requirements. We normally have a very thorough initial meeting. We try to help the client understand the overall process of a construction project – its implications and usual timelines, contracts they should be looking for and elements they should be paying attention to. This is elementary, and no matter who they decide to continue with, it is good information to have.
Also at this meeting we show our way of working and some of the projects we have done previously. We also help the client understand the advantage of having a design process that is explained to you during the design meetings through diagrams, sketches and computer generated images.
After the consultation, we provided the client with a fee proposal – split in to stages of the project. After she contacted us to inform us that she would like to start a collaboration, we set our first official meeting, where we discussed the contract and went further into the project brief. We set the timeline and deadlines for the project and did a site survey. From this point, we started our design process.
Our services cover architectural, interior and furniture/joinery design, and we also have close collaborations with a few landscape architects. Our designs are unique and look to create atmosphere and experiences, allowing the client to learn about the architectural design process along the way. At the same time, we tend to look for projects which allow us to take them on from inception to completion, as this way, we can be sure that whatever surprises come up, we can adjust, and our designs, turn into reality.
When the client contacted us, she had just purchased the house. I could say that the original property had a somewhat eclectic style, quite colourful and cluttered. Still, the space in itself was well sized, but felt small, and it seemed like it wasn’t being used to its maximum efficiency.
The client wanted to have a full bathroom and a larger master bedroom, which would allow for a walk-in dressing area. She was looking for something that made the entire house feel spacious and brought a calm atmosphere and a flow throughout each room. And no clutter! So storage space was a must. She also wanted to use the space she had as efficiently as possible. We managed to do both, and she was extremely pleased with this. It’s funny, but now she says that she has too much storage space. When do you ever hear this in London?
Exterior before and after
We changed the layout of the property slightly on the first floor to allow for the full bathroom and the large master bedroom. One other significant change we made was to open up the ceiling above the hallway. It was just unused space under the eaves. The effect is just amazing.
Hallway before and after
Most of all, this decision allowed us to open the hallway to the stairwell, and gave us a bit more space to install a larger skylight above the stairs. It’s interesting the results you can achieve if you just look a bit deeper into the possibilities a building has to offer.
Stairwell before and after (looking down)
Stairwell before and after (looking up)
For the downstairs, we worked on maximising storage area under the stairs, and we exposed the ceiling’s existing joists to create the sense of height. We used this to play with the lighting pieces and to bring dynamism to the space.
Living room before and after
View from kitchen to dining room before and after
We looked to use natural materials throughout the entire project. The walls are finished in bare plaster, giving an earthy feel to the entire space. The exposed joists are the original joists of the house. And all the wooden furniture pieces are natural oiled oak. The dining table and bench, plus the TV stand, were designed by us and manufactured in collaboration with a craftsperson in Romania.
The budget of the refurbishment touched the £100K mark. This included the actual refurbishment work and built in joinery. We also helped the client find the required lighting and furniture, and in some occasions, even went further to design some bespoke furniture pieces.
A happy client…
The project just finished, and the result is outstanding. The client loves every bit of the space, and we are happy that we managed to fulfil and even go beyond the brief. It was a lovely collaboration.
Throughout the build, Anamaria and Bogdan maintained the approach of listening, engaging, paying attention to the minutiae, whilst simultaneously responding to council/budgetary/lockdown constraints. In doing so, the end product is a modernised home that maximises space and light and ensures a minimalist design – which is what I wanted.
I’m delighted for their Home Transformation of the Year at the British Home Awards, they deserve it and it couldn’t happen to nicer people. I couldn’t recommend them highly enough.
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