Steven Whiting of Whiting Architects studied to be an interior designer before qualifying as an architect, and it’s clear this trajectory has given rise to his firm’s atypical tendency to work from the inside out!
When his own family needed to create an additional bedroom in their single-storey Victorian terrace, Steven’s approach was to scoop out an attic space above the existing ensuite, robe and hallway space. ‘These ground floor areas were non-habitable spaces, so we could utilise the lower headroom, which in turn offered enough headroom in the attic above,’ he explains.
Yet, a challenge came in the form of providing access to their new attic. The building was never intended to have two-storeys, so staircase placement needed careful consideration to avoid clogging up the home’s confined entry. The Whitings opted to conceal the staircase behind the entry corridor wall cladding, with access via a secret door hidden within the lines and grooves of a panelled wall. ‘Most visitors remain unaware that this cottage even has a second level… and for our daughter, the idea of a secret room particularly appealed!’ tells Steven.
Millie’s surprisingly spacious, sky-lit attic room features a distinctive boxed window with an internal outlook – the perfect place to spy on anyone coming and going! It also incorporates a raised platform area for study and play, as well as two concealed roof storage areas.
In the living spaces, the goal was to create versatile interior spaces, focussing on the cabinetry – think a ‘barn-like’ space of box-like forms, characterised by timber panelling, and there’s even a window seat for soaking up the sun.
These timber boxes now accommodate a laundry and a concealed butler’s pantry, while a functionality-driven kitchen makes the most of the small space. The latter is essentially a small recess comprising a concealed refrigerator, sink and the cooktop and oven, all thoughtfully linked to the adjoining zones. Spreading appliances out, relative to their use day-to-day, has alleviated congestion. ‘Running the joinery the full length of the wall and keeping it raised increases the feeling of space, and also extended the kitchen workspace without compromising the living area,’ tells Carole Whiting, of Carole Whiting Interior Design.
Furthermore, the hallway wall panels fold back to open up the dining room, which can be totally closed away, or double as a fourth bedroom if needed. And outside, a simple deck surrounded by planting doubles as an off-street car space.’We layered space and blurred the boundaries between traditional areas,’ reflects Steven. ‘Small sites reacting to a large brief are always a fun challenge!’