House tour: Family-friendly house renovation (with indoor slide!)

Question: how many people do you know that has a slide in their home? Not in their garden, not in the park opposite, actually in their home? I’m guessing, it’s not many – if any? Well, not that I’m boasting or anything, but I do. And, I’ve had a go on it! (Ok, now I’m boasting).

After having a couple of goes, it’s time talk to homeowner Lauren Gearing about her renovation and why she and her husband Ben decided to have such a quirky piece of furniture connecting her open-plan kitchen-diner to the new basement level.

Perched on her island, (while being treated to hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows – heaven) she tells me that people ask her about the slide all the time, but she’s not entirely sure on the answer. She saw something similar while doing research online, and the rest is history.

Talking about the renovation

Georgina interviews Lauren about her home

The couple were drawn to the five-bedroom Victorian terrace in Hackney as it’s on a street they had wanted to move to, backing onto a beautiful park. She describes it as a “classic complete disaster” – my new favourite phrase ­­– as it has been separated into two separate properties that they had to put back together.

The renovation was for the whole family

Family and friends can gather at the bespoke dining table

Initially, they thought they would simply have a side-return extension to make the small kitchen larger, but after getting architects Seán McAlister and Stephen Mackie of Seán & Stephen on board, their renovation plans kept getting grander. Having never done a renovation before, they found themselves in a three-year project – including a year of planning alone.

The big project included a newly dug basement level, which creates a playroom for the couple’s children Fred, Bobbie, and Bella. Removing half of the floor of the sitting room directly above has opened up the space to reveal a double-height ceiling. Bedrooms were then reconfigured and a loft extension added.

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For the kitchen itself, the architects recommended Victoria Spencer-Eves of Veves studio, who came up with the design and sourced the furniture. Knowing the space was going to be the space where they spend the most time, the brief was for an open and sociable room.

The renovation includes a new kitchen

An island was a must-have for Lauren

An L-shape layout pushed back on the walls creates a spacious feel, with a large island that has plenty of storage and a place for informal dining.

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They also wanted an area where they could have lots of people round a table for dinner parties or special occasions, which is why we have the bespoke square table and banquette seating.

To reach the very top of the house, we climb a grand total of 55 steps – I seriously need to get to the gym. The loft conversion has added another bedroom Lauren and Ben currently use as their office.

The main bedroom

The master bedroom leads on to a dressing area and ensuite

Further down, they have reconfigured the level so Fred and Bobbie’s rooms are the same size and have their own bathroom. For the couple’s floor, they decided to create a master suite by utilising a former kitchen to create a dressing area and double ensuite – the perfect adults-only sanctuary.

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The renovation includes a master suite

A freestanding roll-top bath adds a touch of luxury to the space

Asking if the three-year upheaval was worth it makes Lauren laugh. She’s unsure what Ben would say, but she thinks so – and very much believes this is her forever home. And who could blame her? I wonder if my husband would be open to the idea of installing a slide in our house….

Photography: Malcolm Menzies

Feature image: The whole family can enjoy the slide

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