25 Beautiful Homes
go with the flow
A South African couple opened up their labyrinth-like Berkshire bungalow, blurring the lines between the inside and outside
Angela and Duncan Robertson were keen to start a family in a home surrounded by green spaces, but there was a catch – it had to be near London, where Duncan works. Consequently, they chose Berkshire, because it has a fast rail link to the capital. ‘ We looked at six or seven houses in this area,’ says Angela, ‘ but we could see that this one had massive potential. Plus, it had a fantastic garden, which was a huge bonus as we spend a lot of time outdoors.’
Although the couple moved straight in, the building’s internal layout and decor weren’t to their liking. ‘It was very dated and was divided up into so many small spaces,’ says Angela. ‘It was like a rabbit warren with a maze of corridors and doors. We worked with our architect and structural engineer to reconfigure the house and re-level the floors to allow for open-plan living.’ They removed the fireplace, which was in the middle of the sitting room, and pushed the sitting room wall forward, sacrificing some kitchen space for a larger living area. In the kitchen, the units were replaced, and bifold doors and a vaulted ceiling added.
Soon after the work was completed, baby Finn arrived. ‘So that his accessories and toys weren’t spread all around the house, we turned the conservatory into a playroom,’ says Angela. ‘And we extended the kitchen out into the garden to create space for a dining area and a utility room.’
An architect did the drawings for the new scheme, which Angela project managed. Having fitted the kitchen
not long before, the couple were keen to reuse the units and add to them and were delighted to find a nearby company that stocked them. Angela had wanted an island unit in the original kitchen, but there wasn’t enough room, so she was pleased to be able to fit a really large one in the extended area. ‘I love having so much prep space now, and friends and family naturally congregate around the island when we entertain – it has a lovely social aspect,’ she says.
Inspired by the couple’s childhood in Africa, blurring the lines between indoors and outdoors, and between the different living areas, became key to the interior design. ‘We love the freedom of an open-plan layout and bringing nature in, and this is why the kitchen and sitting room flow into each other from either side of the internal wall,’ says Angela. ‘It’s also why I like having plants in the house.’
The colour scheme has been kept natural, too, with deep-sea blues, creams, browns and berry shades, and similar tones are found throughout the house. The bathroom, for example, features the same earthy-hued wall tiles as those behind the sitting room’s woodburner.
Engineered-wood flooring was laid in the sitting room to match the original flooring upstairs, where an entire floor has been given over to the main bedroom with an en suite bathroom and dressing room. ‘This is an inner sanctuary where we love to unwind at the end of a hectic day,’ says Angela. ‘The whole house is now just as we envisaged it – a series of inviting, welcoming spaces.’