Last month I shared the demolition of part of the interior of my own home. It was so exciting to have a large area of our home stripped out, ready for a full redesign and remodel of this space.
But why strip out quite so far? Well sometimes the biggest gains can be made with a complete rethink of a space. Free of the restrictions of previous works and layouts, it’s possible to imagine and design completely new spaces. To make the most of the building, to create a living space that wasn’t possible before, or even to live in the space in a totally different way – a way that suits your life so much better.
The layout story – as it was before
This is the end of our home – two cottages previously knocked together in fact – that I’ve been working on redesigning. The first floor was our master bedroom and bathroom, with a landing for access:
We’ve lived with it for quite a while although I’d always wanted to change it. The bedroom was an awkward L-shaped room, and the only space for the bed was backed into the corner between the windows. The bathroom was also relatively small, yet the landing was huge!
And there were two very, very low beams across the space. These were probably responsible for the low ceiling, and they were certainly to blame for the odd shape of the bedroom.
The redesign – imagining a new interior layout
I sketched a redesigned internal layout after we first saw the house, and although it was developed and refined over the years, it was essentially still the same redesign that I was going ahead with.
This part of the house has its own roof, which also needed some TLC, so I envisioned carrying out the roof repairs and using this as an opportunity to change the low internal beams, remove the ceilings and to have a vaulted space above a new bedroom. So the layout would be reworked and rationalised like this:
This is a wonderful new bedroom in a much more comfortable shape, allowing the bed to be in the centre and facing outwards, now orientated towards the windows and the views of trees. The landing is smaller, and the combination of these would allow us to have a bathroom which is in fact twice as big as the previous one. More spacious, with a walk-in shower, and more in proportion to the overall space:
The low beams are replaced by raised oak trusses, which are magnificent features beneath the vaulted ceiling:
Now this feels like a master bedroom and bathroom!
Hang on… how about a re-redesign?
So I left the building team to it while they carried out the demolition, and I went in at the end of the first day. And when I reached the top of the stairs I was astonished at the space! Of course I knew what to expect, but I hadn’t appreciated how powerful the view of the uninterrupted vaulted roof would be.
In older properties like mine – old cottages basically – it’s unusual to get a long or tall view in a single space. I knew straight away that I had to consider a layout as open as possible, to retain the remarkable architectural feel of the space.
And here it is. The landing area has all but gone, with the extra circulation given over to an open bedroom and bathroom. It’s a space which encourages free circulation around it, yet still zones the areas in this ‘broken plan’ layout:
It’s essentially a reworking of the bathroom into the space previously give to that and the landing. The bedroom and the basic principle of the layout is similar, but the effect of this change is remarkable and the space is fundamentally transformed:
We see the full glory of the vaulted roof and the oak trusses from everywhere. We have a private bedroom area at the end, with no barriers to the bath and shower. The window in the roof brings light flooding into the centre of the bathroom area, and we’re looking forward to lazing in the bath whilst looking up at the sky and the stars.
And I always love to think about movement through the spaces and interiors I design. Here the first thing we see on entering is a window and it’s natural light. There’ll be an armchair too and a lamp by the side… a soft welcome to this wonderful space.
When we move around the room we’ll enjoy views where we can see artwork and pictures. And now from our bed we’ll be looking out at trees.
I think the space has a simplicity to it, although it was borne out of some complicated design work! This is where we’ll start and end our days… hoping to feel fresh and energised in the morning, and calm and relaxed at the end of the day. I suppose this is one of the most important spaces I’ve ever designed, and one which I hope will make a great contribution to our wellbeing in our home. Seeing it taking shape now is so exciting.
As well as the architectural nature of the space, the functional planning, and the natural light, there’s so much else that’s been thought about. And in obsessive detail! The lighting, the finishes and the fittings will all be crucial to how the finished space feels.
I’ll write about these shortly…