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How our roof extension led to planning permission for the whole street

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N

ormally, building an extension won’t win you any favours with the people next door. But Louise and Philip Allard have surely remained in favour with their neighbours thanks to Philip’s job as a planning consultant.

Rather than apply just for their own mansard roof extension in 2019, the couple submitted a pre-application for the entire street, meaning that when any of their Kiver Road neighbours decide to build on top of their Victorian terraced homes, their planning application is guaranteed to be approved by Islington council.

Cuozzo Fleming, the architecture firm they employed to help maximise the project, has since been enlisted by five neighbours and counting following the Allards’ positive experience.

Don’t move, improve

When the couple bought the three-bedroom, one-bathroom house in 2006 they didn’t expect to stay put long term. “It was really in a terrible state,” explains Louise, a managing partner at Allard Bailey Family Law.

“The previous occupant had been living there since 1945 and there was an asbestos building in the back garden. We didn’t have any money, we just replastered and painted it all white.”

The kitchen, including the stopped clock marking the date of the couple’s wedding anniversary

/ Juliet Murphy

When their three sons arrived, the need for more space became pressing so they added a rear extension.

Managing the build themselves was a stressful experience. A two-week stay with Philip’s parents in Hertfordshire turned into four months of commuting while the project’s budget ballooned. But they managed to carve out five bedrooms, four bathrooms and a larger kitchen. “We really maxed out the space,” says Louise.

As the boys grew up, the home began to feel cramped again. Having endured one extension they weren’t thrilled at the prospect of another.

But, with house prices on the rise and stamp duty and other moving costs to factor in, the couple decided spending £125,000 to improve and expand their current home was the most financially sound option without leaving N19. This would also mean the boys — now aged 10, 12 and 14 — could remain near their schools and friends.

Clean lines in the new bathroom

/ Juliet Murphy

To avoid the stress of the first project, the couple wanted to work with an architect who could also help them get the most out of their property.

Cuozzo Fleming did just that, adding an extra 290sq ft of space in the form of a master bedroom and bathroom chock full of clever storage, tucked away above a sculptural staircase of Douglas fir wood. A skylight funnles natural light down the stairs and on to a home-office space tucked neatly into a corner of the landing.

A roof extension with minimal fuss

Practice co-founder Jenny Fleming, who oversaw the Kiver Road extension, says her experience on large builds made the N19 project a breeze, particularly when it came to managing truculent contractors and keeping the costs on track.

The new home office on the top floor landing

/ Juliet Murphy

“With a client-contractor relationship, they’re in your space every day and you have to keep things pleasant,” explains Jenny.

“The good thing with having a third party is that I can be the bearer of bad news. They can come to me and whisper, ‘I don’t like what they’re doing,’ and I can crack the whip without the awkwardness.”

The couple were impressed. “Jenny managed to bring the whole project in on budget,” says Louise. “There were problems and she would just solve them. She was hardcore.”

To avoid a replay of the disruption caused by the first extension, Cuozzo Fleming built the extension as a separate box on top of the house, accessing it via scaffolding and only knocking through to put the stairs in at the end.

The bespoke headboard, designed by Philip

/ Juliet Murphy

The project finished in December 2019 and the Allards were able to move into their bedroom on Christmas Eve. With both sides of the family coming to stay for the festive season, they were immediately grateful for the extra space.

When the pandemic hit London mere months later, the family was well-prepared to weather the challenge of working from home with three children. They were particularly glad of the home office.

“Before, if you had the odd day working from home you’d just sit at the kitchen table,” says Louise. “Then the whole world changed. That office space that Jenny carved out was a real lifesaver.” They even had enough space to welcome a new addition to the family: Buster the yorkiepoo.

Getting the interiors just right

The living room

/ Juliet Murphy

Spending all that time at home also gave them a heightened appreciation of the time that Philip had spent planning the interiors. “My mum’s Danish and I’ve always really liked that Sixties Danish architecture and furniture with really nice, clean lines,” he says.

He designed the bed with its scalloped headboard, covered in bright red fabric from Kvadrat. The mattress lifts up, so the family suitcases can be stored underneath.

“People think, incorrectly, that it’s often the woman who’s got the strong views,” says Louise. “But Phil pretty much picked everything, he’s got exceptionally good taste and so that works for me.”

Jenny also helped the couple use the extension as a chance to tie the rest of the house together, bringing in a joiner, Jai Brodie, to create more storage in the communal areas, cladding in the stairwell and kitchen and a low storage unit in the living room.

A Danish flag from the Allards’ son’s grandmother’s holiday cabin

/ Juliet Murphy

“Bringing in a specialist craftsman was a bit more costly but it’s finally given us the finishes that we want,” says Louise. “Everything’s really practical and durable and looks good.”

As a finishing touch for the bedroom, the couple picked out a piece of art from a local artist that is customised with a map of the place in Brittany, France, where they holidayed with the boys each summer for 10 years.

Other sentimental touches in the interiors include a Danish flag in one of their son’s rooms from his grandmother’s holiday cabin in Denmark.

Down in the kitchen, a stopped clock was changed to show the time and date of the Allards’ wedding. “I don’t know if that’s too cheesy,” she says. “But we actually are notorious for forgetting our anniversary.”

Now the house is finished they can relax — almost. “The next project is turning the spare room into my own, slightly girly, office,” says Louise. “I’m going to be working from home most of the time and I live with four boys. So that will be the last and final project.”

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