Extending allowed homeowners Alex and Bob to double their available space and create a generous kitchen-living-diner as well as welcoming bedrooms and bathrooms for all the family. The brief? Functional with flair.
Today, we’re going to walk through the entire transformation of the renovation by property developer Alex Brooks and her husband Bob – from the kitchen-living-diner to the ensuite.
Having met and lived in London, they decided to move away and began their search in the surrounding counties. “Despite never wanting to return to the place I grew up, after exploring several areas, nothing could top Tunbridge Wells,” recalls Alex. We moved and have never looked back.”
The couple were originally about to exchange on another property when the sellers pulled out of their purchase. “I was pregnant, so we had to find something else fast,” says Alex.
“Thankfully we saw this house and due to the fact we were in a good position, we had our offer accepted. Having the potential to extend, along with its proximity to the town centre, really sold the place to us.”
Watch the video below for the complete walk-through of the couple’s home and scroll down to read the full story…
Built in 1959, the detached three-bedroom property was already a decent size. However, Alex and Bob had big plans for it – including taking off the side and back and extending out and upwards.
“Our plan involved doubling the size of the house, which was obviously quite extensive,” says Alex. “This didn’t scare us, though – in fact, we found it all very exciting.”
Along with extending, the couple also converted the loft and levelled out the garden. They used a building firm for the main work and then separate trades to finish it off.
“There were some drainage issues early on, which ended up costing a fair bit to get sorted. Other than that, there weren’t any other problems. We were quite lucky considering the size of the build,” admits Alex.
Inside, Alex started planning changes to the dated interior. She spent many hours on Google SketchUp, designing a space for all the family.
“My first priority was to design a practical house with a study and utility, and plenty of space and facilities to make life as easy as can be with three young children. Then, once that had been factored in, we wanted it to have a few wow factors.”
Picture an ensuite clad almost entirely in cedar wood, an outdoor bath, and a large kitchen-living-diner complete with sliding glass garden doors leading to a heated dining area that can be used all year round. Dreamy, right?
With the extension complete, the couple hired local company Black Rok Kitchen Design to bring their vision to life.
“We knew the look we wanted, with plenty of storage and a big island and breakfast bar to seat all five of us,” says Alex.
“Originally we were thinking about having a dark blue Shaker-style kitchen with parquet flooring, until I spotted a German wooden handleless design on Pinterest we fell in love with. I specifically wanted the grain of the cabinetry to be horizontal.”
“Finding a design like that was easier said than done and we ended up visiting a lot of showrooms – specifically one that stocked German brands. Many of the laminates are really good and we’d find a shade that we liked. But it would be a vertical grain rather than horizontal, so the search went on and on. Then we walked into Black Rok and found the perfect one,” continues Alex.
The end result? A seamless blend of anthracite and wood, with grey cement tile flooring and Dekton worktops providing an almost industrial look, with roof lanterns overhead to bring more light into the space.
The large dining table splits the kitchen from the living area and easily seats the family at mealtimes.
One of the stand-out elements, however, has to be the secret pantry.
“It’s hidden behind a kitchen cabinet door and you’d never know it was there,” says Alex. “It’s a real winner when we’re showing someone the house. Originally, this area was the old dining room. But as it would have been windowless due to the new extension, we turned the space into a hallway, downstairs bathroom, toy cupboard and the pantry.”
The bedrooms and bathrooms
When it came to the rest of the house, now with six bedrooms and five bathrooms, the couple went for a mix of styles, colours, and materials that are all very different.
“Our taste is contemporary and maybe a bit bohemian,” says Alex. “I like saturated colours and natural textures. But I can’t say there is an overall vision or theme running throughout, as a lot of the rooms are completely different from one another.”
The master bedroom is decorated in a natural and green palette, with plenty of tactile textures and pops of pink, while the ensuite is a wood-clad Scandi-style design with a large picture window overlooking the garden.
“I’d seen cedar wood used in a bathroom on Pinterest and thought it was beautiful,” says Alex.
“So I designed a platform for our double shower and huge round bath, which most builders seemed baffled by. Eventually I found someone that was happy to on take the project. And after a lot of attention to detail we managed to achieve my dream bathroom.”
Alex admits that the biggest challenge was juggling the pregnancy and young children alongside designing, decorating, and project managing the house. However, the results have been well worth any stress. She’s enjoyed documenting the renovation over at @another.house.renovation on Instagram.
“Even now, I have to pinch myself sometimes as it all feels so grown up.”
Photography: David Giles | As originally told to: Laurie Davidson