A Maida Value apartment renovation
Warren and Claire Johnson transformed a badly renovated London apartment with a problematic layout into a home that works for their family.
When Warren and Claire Johnson bought their west London apartment just over four years ago, the deadline to renovate the period property was non-negotiable. Expecting their first child, they were adamant that they wanted to be settled in the house before the baby arrived.
‘We hadn’t anticipated quite how long it would take, and we ended up moving in the day before Claire gave birth,’ says Warren. The two-bedroom Grade II-listed apartment overlooks a communal garden in London’s Maida Vale. As well as its location - an ideal marriage of urban and leafy - its standout feature is its towering ceilings, which measure four metres high. When the couple first saw the property, it was these lofty spaces that convinced them to buy it.
Although in good condition, the flat had been renovated to let during the Eighties, leaving the property with few original features and an unintuitive floor plan. Given the snug 125sqm footprint, too much space was taken up with an awkward-shaped hallway, the bathroom was tiny and the lightest, most impressive space in the house (now the living room) had been partitioned off to create two bedrooms, diminishing its impact.
Calling in Andy Martin Architects to rethink the scheme, Warren and Claire wanted to make the most of the flat’s views over the adjacent garden and give more square metreage to areas that were important to their growing family’s needs; such as the bedrooms, bathroom and dining space. This was possible, in part, due to the introduction of an ingenious galley kitchen, which upped its functionality by leading directly into the living room, despite partially reducing its size. More space was then given over to the sleeping zones, without eating into the living area.
‘Fortunately, we didn’t have any planning issues because we didn’t change the exterior of the building,’ explains Warren. ‘The renovation was relatively cosmetic and more about changing the function of the spaces.'
A couple of internal walls came down that had been put up in the previous renovation. The former living space was transformed into an en-suite master bedroom, and a large bespoke storage unit was created to divide the sleeping section from the bathing area, while still allowing natural light to flow into the bathroom over its top.
To add character back into the scheme, architect Martin introduced parquet flooring, which was varnished then buffed down to give it a worn vintage appeal and fitted classic wood panelling to some of the walls.
As well as taking slightly longer than expected, the project also exceeded its budget. ‘That was driven by me,’ admits Warren. ‘If you get shown a budget version, and then a nice, shiny expensive one, you are naturally going to be drawn to the nice one, and that’s when prices gradually mount up.’
Initially, that was the project completed, but shortly after the couple found out they were expecting their second son and knew they would need to rethink the space again. 'The apartment felt like home and we didn’t want to move, so we decided to utilise the high ceilings and build up,' says Warren.
By adding a mezzanine to the second bedroom, Martin created a sleeping area for the two boys, with a spacious playroom underneath. Much-needed storage was introduced by a bespoke full-height cupboard and colourful drawers that have been built in to the stairs that lead up to the mezzanine. The floor was also soundproofed and cushioned for extra comfort.
This second phase was a smart move. Not only was it inexpensive (equivalent to 25 per cent of the agent’s fee if they’d decided to sell and move on), it has also increased the life of the property until the boys decide they want separate bedrooms. 'We have more space for entertaining, and the children have got two levels to play on,’ says Warren.
Words: Laura Snoad Images:Julian Cornish-Trestrail
- Project team architect:Andy Martin Architects (020 3397 1999; andymartinstudio.com)
- Contractor:The Building Works (020 8964 0918))
- Fixtures & Fittings: Poliform (020 7368 7600;poliformuk.com)
- Kitchen appliances: Miele (0330 160 6600; miele.co.uk)
- En-suite bathroom wall and floor tiles: Bernard J Arnull (01932 341 078; bernardarnull.co.uk)
- Cabinetry & joinery: Dan Frank (07941 418875; danfrank.co.uk)
- Parquet flooring Walking on Wood (020 7352 7311; walkingonwood.com)
- Furniture & accessorises sofas: Designers Guild (020 7893 7400; designersguild.com)
- Coffee table: B&B Italia (bebitalia.com)
- Dining table: Andy Martin Architects (as before)
- Table lights in bedroom: Deltalight (0870 757 7087; deltalight.co.uk)
- Mirrored side tables: Habitat (0344 499 4686; habitat.co.uk)
- Bed in master bedroom: Heal’s (0333 212 1915; heals.com)
- Ceiling light: Tom Dixon (020 7400 0500; tomdixon.net)
- Chandelier: Andy Martin Architects (as before)