Going Up In the World

Woman's Weekly Magazine, 2nd June 1992

Need more space but hate the thought of moving? A loft conversion could be the answer, says Valerie Wotton

Growing family, a spreading hobby, working at home - there always seems to be reasons for needing more space. When the walls of the house threaten to bulge with the pressure from within, why not reach for new heights with a loft conversion?

The empty space that already exists above your head could solve your problems.

Franny and Lynn Fitzpatrick, from South London, reluctantly considered moving when their two daughters asked for separate bedrooms, buy they soon decided that converting the loft was a preferable - and much less expensive option. The roof space would provide a large bedroom and and en suite shower room for mum and dad, and the landing was spacious enough to allow for access.

Lynn didn't know anyone who had had a loft conversion, so she simply looked at magazine advertisements and contacted various companies for estimates. She plumped for Charles Grosvenor, a specialist firm, "because, although they weren't the cheapest, they were the most helpful, not pushy but very professional. They gave a very clear idea of what would be involved and supplied us with several addresses of homes in the area where we could go and see their work and talk to previous customers."

The company surveyed the house, discussed the design and price options with the Fitzpatrick's, drew up plans and dealt with the local authority over planning permission and building regulations. Planning took six months, but the actual work only lasted about 8 weeks. "It was amazing," said Lynn. "They built scaffolding around the house and worked up on the roof for ages before breaking through to the floor below."

Both Lynn and Franny are not keen do-it-yourself types, so were delighted to have a professional company carrying out all the work, but they decided to organise the bathroom fittings, cupboard building and decorating themselves.

Lynn looked at standard fitted furniture, but realised that it would mean wasting a lot of space. Quotes from a couple of specialist furniture firms were horrifically high, but eventually the Fitzpatrick's found a local carpenter who designed and built exactly what they wanted. An architect friend took charge of all the decorating, and mock marbling paper for the walls and fascinating paint techniques on the woodwork.

Lynn chose a stunning Osborne & Little fabric, "Auriculas", for the curtains and bedspread. Lined with yellow chintz, the same fabric also creates the dramatic half-tester-style bedhead.

Careful attention to detail is everywhere, ruched curtain tie-backs to the fabric-covered cupboard door panels. Standing in this luxurious, golden-yellow room, with the early morning sun streaming in through the wide dormer windows, it's hard to imagine that it was once a dark, dusty loft.

The fitzpatrick's conversion was planned and carried out by Charles Grosvenor in 1992

A loft conversion could be the answer

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