Real Home

Bold hues, tex­tures and pat­terns form the foun­da­tion of Har­riet Dell’s clev­erly re­designed gar­den flat

Real Homes - - Contents -

Har­riet Dell clev­erly re­designed her flat for a cool and quirky space

Af­ter a 17 years in the north Lon­don gar­den flat she shares with her son and daugh­ter, Har­riet de­cided it was time for

change. With one bath­room be­tween the three of them, and with Syd’s bed­room lit­tle more than a nar­row box room, the prop­erty was in des­per­ate need of ren­o­va­tion to keep up with the fam­ily’s needs.

Har­riet had done a lit­tle work ini­tially when she moved into the flat. ‘I bought it from an el­derly lady and the place hadn’t been touched since the 1960s – and not in a good way,’ she says. While she chose the prop­erty for its room sizes and gar­den, she tweaked the lay­out for a big­ger kitchen-din­ing space.

How­ever, as Har­riet’s fam­ily grew, it be­came ap­par­ent the de­sign was no longer work­ing. ‘When I moved here, it was just me with Chilli, and we only needed one bath­room,’ she says. ‘Syd’s room was our for­mer spare room, a nar­row strip of a room, which was no longer big enough for his friends to stay over or space to play.’

The first step was to find an ar­chi­tect. ‘An­other ar­chi­tect thought my job was too small but rec­om­mended Jo­hanna Ahrberg John­son. We clicked from day one,’ Har­riet says. ‘I’d asked for an ex­ten­sion across the back of the flat, how­ever, she saw the big­ger pic­ture. She re­con­fig­ured the rooms to work much bet­ter for us all.’

For the same bud­get, Jo­hanna planned to en­hance the home by re­work­ing

Syd’s space and cre­at­ing a splen­did mas­ter suite in the base­ment, with a much­needed sec­ond bath­room and util­ity area. It was a space that un­til this time had been had been se­verely un­der­used. ‘It was just a large, white, cold rec­tan­gle,’ Har­riet says. ‘The heat­ing didn’t work, and it was damp and un­invit­ing.’

Mean­while Chilli’s room was re­duced in size, with part of her study area used to ex­tend the hall­way and make a new en­trance to the fam­ily bath­room. Har­riet be­lieves it’s ac­tu­ally im­proved her daugh­ter’s room. ‘Although she has lost space, she has gained more stor­age and it works bet­ter,’ she says. ‘With its close prox­im­ity to the bath­room and hall­way, it now feels like a self-con­tained flat.’

The newly re­fur­bished flat has pro­vided the per­fect back­drop for Har­riet’s mid-cen­tury fur­nish­ings. But the big­gest state­ment is Har­riet’s bold choice of colours. She made a con­scious de­ci­sion to move on from her pre­vi­ous ‘mainly mono­chrome in­te­rior’. Her friend Sarah, a de­signer who runs Sarah Thomas In­te­ri­ors, en­cour­aged ‘brave’ de­ci­sions like paint­ing her bed­room ceil­ing green.

‘The pain­ter ar­gued against it, so I gave in, but I hated it and made him paint it my way,’ Har­riet says. ‘He even re­luc­tantly agreed that it looked a lot bet­ter!’

Hav­ing Sarah to help her make these choices was im­mensely help­ful to Har­riet. ‘She was al­ways there at the end of the phone when I felt over­whelmed or pan­icked,’ she says. ‘Not be­ing part of a cou­ple can be lib­er­at­ing as you don’t have to com­pro­mise, but some­times de­ci­sions need to be backed by some­one you trust.’

The build took around three months, and de­spite go­ing over bud­get – thanks to the mas­ter suite’s re­claimed wood wall and en suite tiles – Har­riet is thrilled with the end re­sult. Next, she plans to save up to add more bath­room tiles to the bare wall. ‘We now have a warm fam­ily home to meet ev­ery­one’s needs – my young son, an older daugh­ter and her boyfriend, plus so­cia­ble evenings and quiet nights in.’

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