ONWARDS & UPWARDS How one shrewd family future-proofed their four-storey, east London home with a loft conversion and self-contained flat
A chance meeting prompted Jemma Broadgate to rethink her approach to the home that she had lived in for more than two decades
While she is the first to admit that the prospect of renovation never appealed to her, when Jemma Broadgate eventually remodelled her four-storey terrace in east London, it completely changed her home. ‘Before this, even having the house repainted felt like a chore,’ she says, ‘and I’d never so much as knocked down a wall.’
It is no surprise then, that it took more than 20 years for her to take the plunge, all thanks to a chance encounter at her local post office. ‘ While standing in the queue, I got chatting to Johnathan Joseph, who happens to run a build and design company,’ recalls Jemma. ‘He knew the area and houses well and suggested coming to have a look at how we could enhance the space.
‘I was attracted to the idea of future-proofing,’ says Jemma, ‘so between us, we cooked up the idea of creating a self-contained flat – suitable for ageing parents or for my nine-year-old daughter Lexi when she’s older – on the ground floor, and reconfiguring upstairs to accommodate myself and Lexi. It would mean extending into the loft space to create two new rooms, plus reworking the rear to incorporate an external spiral staircase leading to the garden.’
Mother and daughter stayed with friends while the work took place, and the structural alterations were completed in a matter of weeks. It turned out that Jemma was a natural at project managing, finding it easy to make decisions and adopting a flexible approach when the builder suggested small but crucial deviations from the original plans. ‘It soon became clear that installing glass walls instead of timber panelling in the loft would allow light to flood in,’ she explains. ‘In my bedroom at the rear there is a dramatic wall of angular glazing, while Lexi’s overlooks the landing.’
Jemma’s remodelled apartment now comprises a first-floor sitting room, kitchen-diner and guest bedroom, while the top storey houses two bedrooms, a generous bathroom and Lexi’s en suite. The main bathroom has been designed around an eye-catching cast-iron bath with a burnished finish. Jemma was so taken with its majestic proportions that she decided to alter the roof line of the new space to accommodate it. ‘Our old bathroom was very tired, so it was important to create a space that felt like a sanctuary,’ she says.
Keen to maintain this simpler, airier feel, Jemma decorated throughout in a combination of greys and off-whites, punctuated by pops of colour provided by her collection of art. ‘Because the sight lines have altered quite drastically in the new layout, with each space flowing to the next, I wanted to introduce a sense of cohesion,’ she says. ‘So a clean, soothing palette seemed like the right approach.’
And it turns out that this renovation, though a long time in coming, has paid dividends. ‘Let’s say it was a slow burner,’ says Jemma with a smile, ‘ but committing to it was a great decision. We’ve opened up a brand-new chapter for this house.’
DESIGN ADVICE‘ Be prepared to be flexible. I listened to my builder’s advice and the results are all the more special for it’
LEXI’S BEDROOM Designed with the future in mind, this space can easily be adapted to suit a teenage girl. skålberg swivel chair, £25; billy bookcase, £18, both Ikea. renovation by build & Design by Joseph
STAIRWELL Thanks to the glazed wall in Lexi’s bedroom, this area is flooded with light. glazed wall-to-wall window, price on application, Inter house windows