Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Building a New Life; When the Children Left Home, One North London Couple Wanted Lots of Penthouse Luxury, So They Built Big-Time Glamour into Their Lives, Says Fay Sweet Homes & Property

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Building a New Life; When the Children Left Home, One North London Couple Wanted Lots of Penthouse Luxury, So They Built Big-Time Glamour into Their Lives, Says Fay Sweet Homes & Property

Article excerpt

Byline: FAY SWEET

WITH their children growing up, Charlotte and Richard Halvorsen decided to swap their robust Victorian family home in north London for an elegant contemporary penthouse. "It felt like time to move on," says Richard, a GP and media doctor.

"We wanted more space for entertaining friends and all those things you associate with a penthouse, such as a wonderful sound system, modern lighting, great views."

The list continues: a big American-style fridge, electric blinds, floor-to-ceiling sliding doors, a decked terrace. And then they started looking.

"We wanted three bedrooms and lots of living space," says Charlotte, who works as a student counsellor.

"But anywhere vaguely interesting cost an absolute fortune; some places were as much as [pounds sterling]2 million."

It was also clear that the expense of moving was going to be enormous.

"With stamp duty, removals and legal fees, the bill could have been [pounds sterling]50,000," adds Richard.

Eventually the move was shelved.

Instead, the couple decided to make changes at home and enlisted the help of architect Deborah Saunt of DSDHA, who was chosen from a shortlist after being recommended by a friend and neighbour. "The idea was to hold on to those aspirations of penthouse living, but transfer them to the ground floor of their existing house," says Deborah. Major structural works ensued, knocking down walls to open up the kitchen and dining area at the back of the house and pushing sideways into a former alleyway.

"Because they had gone through underpinning works at the front of the house some years before, Richard and Charlotte were expert clients and amazingly unphased by the scale of the endeavour," recalls Deborah.

She was also impressed by the couple's organised approach to the job, which included preparing a wish list of the things they wanted, right down to their preferred layout for the kitchen.

Among the key elements in the makeover was a set of moulded plywood and stainless-steel bar stools that Charlotte had bought in anticipation of the works; the sleek kitchen was largely designed around them. …

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