Contemporary Basement Conversion


As is so often the case, the simplicity of the design conceals a much more significant re-build.


Unwelcome surprises

It was known from the outset that there might be a couple of problems to face: it had last been refurbished in the 1970s by an enthusiastic but perhaps misguided former owner. As the site team started work, they began to uncover many unexpected issues, including a defective drainage system that carried much of the

rainwater into the house (and surrounding walls), a poorly plumbed in heating system and a complete absence of insulation. In addition the front and back of the property suffered from a long term damp problem transferred from the retaining walls and the electrics were, in the words of the electrician, ‘a bit Heath Robinson’.

“The refurbishment has improved our house beyond all measure. A small dark house with a poor kitchen space now feels like a large and light house that is good for everyday living and brilliant for entertaining.”

Lucy Taylor

Re-designing the layout

As the house was stripped back to its bare bones, it became increasingly clear that the project required a complete re-think. The design team were brought back in and quickly turned many of the necessary revisions into features that enhanced the character of the house as well as improved its performance and function.

Fixtures and Finishes

  • Bespoke joinery, storage bench and wall units by Goodbody & Co.
  • Wall & splash-back painted in Little Green ‘Fescue’
  • Light oak flooring from The Stone & Wood Galler
  • Sockets & switches by Focus
  • Sink and taps by Franke
  • Wall lights, Applique a volet pivotant natural by Charlotte Perriand, available from the Conran Sho

“Both their project management and building teams were extremely considerate and guided us through the different phases that could have been really quite overwhelming, whether it was damp proofing or the underpinning… In the end we used a huge section of the Goodbody & Co. services.”

Lucy Taylor

Maximising space and light: Kitchen

  • Bespoke joinery:

    Custom fit benches provide neat, comfortable seating areas as well as added storage space.

  • Glass splash-back:

    Back painted to match the surrounding walls, the splash-back reflects light in a small kitchen and is easy to clean.

  • Sliding door:

    A bespoke wooden frame with large glass panel conceals a hidden sliding mechanism. Light is transferred and the heaviness of traditional door joinery is overcome.

  • Access:

    Originally accessible from the raised ground floor, the garden is now reached from the kitchen on the lower ground to create more dining and entertaining space.

  • Opening onto the garden:

    Double glazed windows and doors have increased natural light and reduced heat loss.

  • Lighting:

    Different types of light (recessed spotlights, pendants, wall lights, LED strips) used and grouped on different circuits highlight materials and textures, creating depth and contrast.

Hidden details: Bathroom

Another very important aspect of this project was the redesign of the shower room. Paradoxically, while the floor area was practically halved in size (to create a larger bedroom), very careful and precise planning conveys a sense of warmth and space.

  • Hidden compartments:

    Lining the walls and floor, the large format porcelain tiles conceal the gas and electricity meters (see the edge of the hatch on the left hand side) together with the principle manhole fitted into the floor.

  • Creating space:

    Careful positioning of small, wall hung sanitary ware, shower screen, niches and lighting help trick the mind into thinking the space is bigger than it really is.

  • Lighting:

    The lighting is very important in such a tiny space, and we used a combination of recessed lights set into the niche on the back wall, led strip lights under the meter cabinets, and a light-up mirror.