Jemima Garth­waite used her quirky style and ar­chi­tec­tural knowhow to up­date and ex­tend her Vic­to­rian ter­race

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Had Jemima got her tim­ings right, she could have ended up buy­ing the house next door to the one where she now lives in Hack­ney, Lon­don. The beau­ti­ful Vic­to­rian ter­race caught her eye a few months be­fore she be­gan her prop­erty search, but by the time she started go­ing on view­ings, it was off the mar­ket. How­ever, this ‘dream home’ in­spired Jemima to tar­get the same area in her prop­erty search. When her cur­rent home ap­peared, she seized her chance and was the first to view it and make an of­fer. Af­ter some back and forth, the house was hers.

The prop­erty was on the mar­ket for a rea­son­able price be­cause the pre­vi­ous own­ers had made very few changes to its fab­ric, and, thank­fully, all the orig­i­nal fea­tures re­mained in­tact. How­ever, this also had its down­sides. ‘It had the most ba­sic kitchen and bath­room pos­si­ble,’ Jemima ex­plains. ‘It was still the rather cold, dark house it’d been since 1860.’

To rem­edy this, Jemima de­cided to ex­tend the kitchen at the rear of the house to cre­ate a light and airy space that is per­fect for so­cial­is­ing, while the orig­i­nal 19th-cen­tury liv­ing room at the front, with its fire­place and ex­posed brick walls, would re­main un­touched. The re­sult would be two ‘sea­sonal’ spa­ces – a com­fort­able area in the cen­tre of her home for the colder months, and a bright ex­ten­sion that opened up to the back gar­den for the spring and sum­mer.

Reach­ing out

Jemima en­listed the help of her close friend, ar­chi­tect Tom Kaneko, whom she met while study­ing ar­chi­tec­ture at the Univer­sity of Ed­in­burgh, to get her new home up to scratch. He set about de­sign­ing the ex­ten­sion, us­ing a pitched roof to give height to the mid­dle of the room and cre­ate a light, open space. To bring the gar­den into the ad­di­tion, the pair de­cided on bi-fold doors that can be swept open to al­low a seam­less flow be­tween in­doors and out.

Tom and Jemima also made use of any op­por­tu­ni­ties they could find to add ex­tra de­tails to the ex­ten­sion. A study sits in an al­cove, and Tom added a small cloak­room in the space be­tween the stairs and the kitchen units. One of Jemima’s favourite ar­eas, the cosy read­ing nook, is nes­tled against a win­dow to make the most of the gar­den view.

DIY job

Be­cause of her back­ground in ar­chi­tec­ture, Jemima was quite a hands-on client. ‘I spent many work lunchtimes with my roll of trac­ing pa­per, sketch­ing out in­fi­nite new lay­outs,’ she says. ‘De­spite Tom’s protes­ta­tions and con­tin­ual re­minders about my tiny bud­get, we opted to stick with am­bi­tion – the miss­ing money would surely ap­pear from some­where.’

Thanks to the pair’s ar­chi­tec­tural know-how and Tom’s con­tacts, they man­aged to com­plete the ren­o­va­tion on a very tight bud­get. Tom ne­go­ti­ated with builders and care­fully se­lected ma­te­ri­als in or­der to keep down prices, but even­tu­ally, they had to take on some of the work on their own. ‘When the money ran out, there was no plas­ter­board on the walls, just rough screed on the floor, and the kitchen was a few pipes stick­ing out of the walls and floors,’ Jemima re­calls. ‘To take it from this to com­ple­tion re­lied upon a bal­ance of my blind lack of fear and Tom’s coach­ing and prac­ti­cal so­lu­tions. Es­sen­tially, it was an epic DIY job, with Tom even step­ping in to hand pour the ce­ment floor.’

Phys­i­cal chal­lenge

Jemima’s proac­tive ap­proach and cau­tious spend­ing meant she was thrown into the world of build­ing. ‘For a cou­ple of years, me and the B&Q staff were on first ➤

name terms, as well as the chaps run­ning the lo­cal dump – I don’t think my beloved car will ever re­cover from the in­fi­nite times she was loaded up with rub­ble,’ she laughs. ‘I em­braced the chal­lenge of learn­ing new skills, and ded­i­cated most evenings and week­ends to it. The only down­side was a fairly bro­ken back from all the lift­ing, and un­shiftable dirt in my rough builder’s hands, which I fre­quently sat on in client meet­ings at work to avoid de­tec­tion.’

For Jemima, the most ar­du­ous part of the ren­o­va­tion was the phys­i­cal work. ‘For a pe­riod of weeks I had to man­u­ally shift waste wa­ter into a drain, so af­ter ev­ery shower, I’d be down­stairs dressed for the of­fice, lift­ing a huge bucket across the room,’ she ex­plains. ‘No won­der my back went! I ac­tu­ally re­ally en­joyed the chal­lenges, and I’m now the go-to-girl for DIY ad­vice, so

I’ll be help­ing out lots of my friends with their own projects.’

Unique de­tail

Much of the fur­ni­ture in Jemima’s house has been passed down or col­lected over the years, and her in­ter­est in in­te­rior de­sign seems to be a fam­ily trait.

‘I’m very lucky that my par­ents and grand­par­ents have all had a very good eye for de­sign, and I’ve en­joyed tak­ing on old fam­ily pieces and adding mod­ern touches,’ she ex­plains. Re­cently, she worked with in­de­pen­dent up­hol­ster­ers 7Uphol­stery in Shored­itch to up­date an as­sort­ment of arm­chairs and so­fas with leather and linen. ‘I’m try­ing to make de­ci­sions that will sur­vive the test of time,’ she says. ‘While I’ve also picked up a few pieces along the way, I’ve tried to avoid trendy bits, though they have snuck in – cop­per’s all the rage these days, and it just hap­pens to be one of my favourite things. Fin­gers crossed those items don’t look dated in years to come.’

Af­ter in­vest­ing so much in her home, Jemima sees her­self liv­ing there for the fore­see­able fu­ture. ‘I hope to be here a very long time – it’s big enough for a teeny tiny fam­ily, and when that grows up, I’d be keener to go up into the roof than move any­where else. All in good time, though.’

ex­posed steel beams add a splash of green To This Cop­per-led scheme

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