It’s not what you do, it’s the way

London Evening Standard (West End Final B) - ES Homes and Property - - Our Home -

ing in a win­dowed wall, the cou­ple’s chil­dren, Hux­ley, six and Inez, three, romp straight out to the lawn. And since Am­ber, a food and travel jour­nal­ist, is a keen cook, the old kitchen now runs through into the ex­ten­sion, cre­at­ing lots more workspace, stor­age space and open­ness, with a fresh din­ing area at the end. Matthew and Am­ber call this re­con­fig­ured space a fam­ily room — a bet­ter term than “kitchen-diner”, for these are the spa­ces, apart from bed, that we spend most time in.

They did a loft con­ver­sion years ago and like most young Lon­don­ers, they had to save up first. Mar­ried in 2003, they bought their two-storey home from friends in 2007. It’s a “half-house” — a Vic­to­rian sym­met­ri­cal house cut down the mid­dle, pur­pose-built as two dwellings en­tered by a cen­tral front door. Two-up, two-down, plus a dog-leg with kitchen be­low and bath­room above, it was only about 800sq ft.

Fine for two, but not for four. The small, dark din­ing room got used as a hall-cum-dump­ing ground: “We had to shovel stuff off the ta­ble to eat.” But Matthew knew from the start that he

right, black grout, piped in with an ic­ing bag, en­hances the black brick in the skylit din­ing area of the ex­ten­sion could and would ex­tend both up and out. In 2008, he flipped the up­stairs bath­room and sec­ond bed­room and re­moved a small cor­ri­dor, cre­at­ing space for stairs to a fu­ture loft room.

They fi­nally built that room once Inez was ex­pected in 2013, but cut the tim­ing a bit tight, so ended up do­ing the whole job in six weeks flat. “When I left to col­lect mother and baby from the

Por­trait:: Juliet Mur­phy Pho­to­graphs: French+Tye

Black beauty: Small won­der: left, though mod­est in size, the ex­ten­sion makes a big dif­fer­ence, pro­vid­ing re­con­fig­ured space that Matthew and Am­ber call their “fam­ily room”

Value: Matthew Wood and Am­ber Dal­ton re­mod­elled their home with a £70,000 bud­get

Get some per­spec­tive: a long throughview in­creases the house’s sense of space

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