I think there’s only a few select things that are more life changing than bringing a baby into the world, right? Which is why I can totally understand how Jinye and Quiying Huang felt when they welcomed baby Yvie into the world. In their words, their two-bedroom flat “suddenly shrank”. No kidding… (and no pun intended!)
So, the couple swiftly sprang into action and bought a west London-based three-bedroom Victorian terraced house with the aim of creating a home extension that would become an oasis of calm in the busy capital.
However, with interiors that hadn’t been touched in years and still lacking space, a rear extension and loft conversion were added to ensure the couple got the elegant, spacious design they had imagined.
Here, Jinye explains how the project came together to one of our fabulous KBB writers, Catherine Edwards…
What was your vision for the property?
“When we bought the house, an older lady had been living there for about 40 years – everything needed updating. But this was our first project and we had no idea where to start, so we began by researching online and speaking to friends for advice on how to create a family home, which was a great help. We had to replace the ceilings and flooring, remove all wall render, and completely replumb and rewire, to name just a few aspects of the renovation. As the property is around 100 years old, we agreed to try and keep as many of the original features as we could – including the wooden sash windows, for example. From day one we also knew we would need more space, so got plans drawn from an architect, AZTech Architecture, for a 3.4 x 4.4m rear extension and a loft conversion to house our master suite. We wanted to keep the décor simple – my personal style is minimal. To help us achieve this, we enlisted interior designer Julia Dean at The London Design Company, who came on board right at the start of the project.”
What was the thinking for the kitchen?
“Most importantly, we wanted it to fit with our lifestyle. Quiying loves to cook, especially when my mum visits us in here in London – they can spend hours preparing each meal. Because of that we have lots of ingredients, so we made sure there was plenty of space to stash them away as well. At first we actually thought we had included too much storage, but somehow we still manage to use it all. We created the layout using an online design service and I decided to put the working areas – including the sink, microwave, rice cooker, and bread maker – at the side and back of the room, with the idea of having the nice clean, clutter-free worktop on the island at the front and separate the working area from the more social dining section.
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We decided on a marble work surface, which means we mainly eat at the table rather than at the breakfast bar as it’s hard to clean. We knew we’d have this issue but wanted the look, so compromised. For the appliances, my wife had always dreamt of a range cooker and I wanted an American-style fridge-freezer. Both had to be stylish as well, so we went for stainless-steel Smeg products.”
Tell us about the appliances and décor…
“Julia looked at lots of images – which we had collected as inspiration for our new kitchen – with us and it
became clear the main style we liked was white with an element of grey. I think it’s a nice contrast, so we went
for dark charcoal cupboards and white walls, with exposed bricks next to the dining table to add warmth.”
And how about the loft conversion?
“Although we could have put two smaller bedrooms in there, we decided to create a large master suite for our family home with our main bedroom and ensuite plus include plenty of storage. To allow lots of natural light in, we added a large window on the south side – which has the bonus of nice garden views – and a Velux window on the pitched roof opposite. We then decorated with natural colours, not too strong or dark, to ensure it felt both cosy and calm.”
What about the rest of the house?
“The living room had to be quiet and calm, as the kitchen and dining area are the noisy, active parts of the house. I chose blue for the walls for tranquility, but added some yellow – just enough to keep the brain active. I was inspired by a picture of a yellow fireplace, but I didn’t want ours like that in case we didn’t like it in three years – we can change an armchair. Upstairs, a freestanding bath has always been on the wishlist, which we thankfully had space for in the box room we converted into the new family bathroom – the existing one had to make space for the stairs to the loft conversion.We placed it next to the sash window, which is a nice and relaxing spot for a soak – you have fantastic views while being doused in daylight. There was also enough room for a shower, so the space is still practical, which was important. (I wouldn’t mind having a soak there, not at all!)
In Yvie’s room, we started with bright pink but soon realised it didn’t fit with the rest of the house. We changed it to something more delicate she can grow up with. Overall, our home extension was tough – we spent a year on it – but it was also a fun and enjoyable experience when we look back.”
Photography: David Woolley
Styling: Francine Kay
Featured image: Although the scheme is calm and neutral the kitchen is the family’s busiest room.