Marylebone makeover: Top 5 tips for creating space in a small flat

PUBLISHED: 13:12 16 September 2014 | UPDATED: 13:12 16 September 2014




As trading up to a bigger property within London becomes almost as unattainable as hitting the first rung of the property ladder according to recent figures, owners are finding creative ways of maximising their existing space.

The new open plan kitchen in the Marylebone flatThe new open plan kitchen in the Marylebone flat

Whether knocking down internal walls to create open plan living environments, or building up and out wherever planning permission allows, Londoners increasingly are making do rather than moving on.

Communications consultant Susie Davies has lived in her one-bedroom flat in Marylebone for 15 years. When she bought the property, the Chiltern Firehouse was not even a twinkle in Andre Balasz’ eye, and the area was a relatively undiscovered residential neighbourhood.

Davies loved the balcony, the proximity to Regent’s Park and being able to walk everywhere thanks to the flat’s central location and so compromised on the amount of space she needed.

The flat has an open plan living/dining room and kitchen and a small shower room accessed through the bedroom. As she often has friends from overseas to stay, this arrangement had its drawbacks but overall, the location won out.

The new open plan kitchen in the Marylebone flatThe new open plan kitchen in the Marylebone flat

However, after 15 years, the flat was ready for a complete overhaul. “The oven door fell off, the fridge was just in ‘de-frost’ mode all the time. As for the shower - well it just started feeling too small,” says Davies.

Having fallen in love with the area, and larger properties nearby now being out of reach financially, she decided to see what she could do to change her existing flat.

She enlisted project manager David Gibson to help her with the works, an additional cost she says was well worth it for removing much of the stress of the building work and coming up with ideas that wouldn’t have occurred to her.

Between them they have compiled their top five tips for anyone planning to undertake renovations in their own small space.

The new shower room with additional height and glazed panelThe new shower room with additional height and glazed panel

1. Budget for a project manager. “David didn’t just follow instructions but he also offered design ideas I wouldn’t have thought of,” says Davies. “He suggested adding a high window in the partition wall between the shower room and bedroom.

He was also great at ordering everything and keeping the project within budget. It took away all the stress – or a huge amount of it at least.”

2. Choose builders with a good track record in the area. Davies says, “We’d often seen GAF French’s van in the neighbourhood – which seemed like a good recommendation – and asked them to tender. They were totally professional and thought of everything. They did a really terrific job.”

3. Make use of all the space you can, and be creative. “There was a false ceiling in the existing shower room, which was used as a bedroom cupboard, so we raised it and added a glazed strip to the top of the wall to get natural light into the room,” says Gibson. “Taking out the old, raised shower unit and replacing it with a wet room gave significant extra space too.”

The tiled wet roomThe tiled wet room

4. Keep the design simple but colourful. “I wanted to de-clutter the look of the space as much as possible,” says Davies. “The kitchen units I chose were white – very classic and simple – with curved cupboards, all integrated and very sleek. I also went for splashbacks rather than tiles but chose a bright Mediterranean blue for contrast. In the bathroom I chose grey splashbacks and then added the iridescent mosaic tiles as a feature.”

5. Move out during building works if possible. “The builders were working in a tight area and didn’t need me (and my English bulldog) underfoot,” says Davies. “They managed to do all the work in only 10 days, which was brilliant, and I managed to stay at my sister’s.”


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