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design, so they didn’t face difficulties with the planners. “There was nothing too risque or controversial for us to float with them,” says Tina. “As a result it went through pretty smoothly.” She credits Levitate with being a huge help with planning, removing the worry factor for them.


MAKING IT WORK


When it came to challenges however, the scale of the work needed meant the couple decided to break the work into two phases because of the costs involved. James admits this was “a difficult decision.” Phase one included the renovation to the existing home, underpinning and structural steel work to prepare for the second phase. Phase two consisted of removing the floor of an existing living room at the back of the house, lowering the floor of this space to ground level. This created a double-height kitchen/dining area and the extension out into the garden provided the “all-important outdoor connection,” in Tina’s words.


The couple decided to install bifold doors which when fully retracted create a complete, open corner. “We love the way the inside is perfectly merged with the outside,” James enthuses. They also included polished concrete surfaces both inside and out, to further blur the boundary between the two areas. The final step to ensure the seamless transition for James and Tina was to have a sleek flush finish to the doors. They were warned by Levitate however that flush thresholds such as they chose can be problematic. “It’s what everyone wants – but achieving it isn’t as easy as


40 www.sbhonline.co.uk


Spencer, director at Levitate Architects “quickly proposed an idea we liked” –Tina Reiss


it looks,” says James. “You have to ensure the junction doesn’t allow rain to blow in under the door.” Luckily, this hasn’t been a problem they have suffered, and he in fact says the installation was “fairly straightforward.”


The kitchen design was key to the family’s needs, of course. “We wanted to have a social kitchen, but it also had to be super functional,” explains Tina. “The cupboards and storage space around the kitchen is the result of a lot of hard work by Spencer and the joiner Rob Vialle of Vialle & Co, who some friends had introduced us to.” Tina went with him to visit a kitchen he’d worked on previously which gave the couple ideas for how to arrange several aspects of their design. For example, “it helped us get options for how we could maximise recycling without it being visually obtrusive,” she says.


CONTRACTUAL ISSUES


The couple used one contractor for phase 1, but another contractor had to be found for phase 2,


jul/aug 2021


LOW POINT


“Realising that we would have to do it in two stages.” – James Whyte


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