Conversion: Two neighbouring loft-style flats into one apartment
When their London loft-style home became too small, the Contaroudas' converted their loft into one spacious apartment for their family.
When Kirstin and Haris Contaroudas’ London home became too small for their growing family, they doubled its size by buying the apartment next door and extending into it.
Most people, if they buy a studio flat, certainly don’t envisage raising a family there. However, Kirstin Contaroudas enjoyed her loft space so much that she bought the adjoining apartment and transformed her property into a spacious family home.
It was actually the search for a new car that originally led Kirstin to this leafy corner of south-west London. Born in Germany, raised in Trinidad and educated in the USA, she arrived in London in 1999 needing two things – a flat and a car. ‘I was going to the car showroom (my dream was a Porsche 356) when I spotted the For Sale sign on some loft apartments by the river,’ says Kirstin.
The units were among a mixture of 70 fully fitted flats and loft shells in the Piper Building. Built in the early Sixties, it was originally home to British Gas offices and a laboratory and takes its name from the avant-garde artist John Piper, who designed the coloured-relief panels depicting the spirit of energy that line the facade of the building.
‘I hadn’t even considered the area,’ admits Kirstin. ‘The Piper Building is a bit more gentrified than the New York-style apartment in Shoreditch I was after, but when I saw its loft-like proportions, that was it. I like the proximity to the river and the views – it gives a sense of space that you don’t often find in London.’
Kirstin worked with German architect Dominikus Stark to convert the shell into a studio and workspace. Eight years on, she had met and married her Greek husband, Haris, and started a family; the couple now have two sons – Aris, five, and Alexandros, nearly three. While they both love the location, it was clear they needed to rethink their living arrangements. ‘The original flat was an open-plan studio – we didn’t even have a separate bedroom; it was behind glass on the mezzanine. Then we converted my offce into a bedroom, and then ran out of space – if you can say that about a 150-square-metre place,’ says Kirstin. ‘Dividing the floor further to make more bedrooms would have ruined it. When Aris was a baby, he slept in our bathroom for the first few months.’