The Househunter: A Garden Apartment with expansion potential

When we bought our first flat (a two bedroom garden apartment back in 1998 – I won’t tell you what it cost or younger readers will cry) we used to fantasise about buying the flats on the two floors above and creating one huge house. Then the woman on the top floor put hers on the market and we were too scared in case the woman in the middle never sold, or realised she would pretty much be able to name her price. And eventually, three houses later we bought this which was two flats (owned by the same person) and converted it into one house.

Anyway… I digress (nothing new there) today’s pick of the property market is a lower ground floor flat with planning permission to join it to the flat above on the raised ground floor, which is also on the market. This would create a three bedroom split level home. It’s on the market with The Modern House.

That said, with this one at £550,000 and the one above at £400,000 and you still need to pay to convert them back into one which is going to involve at the least a new staircase and some knocking about of walls, it’s not the cheapest way to buy a three bedroom house. But it would be lovely. And there is already a garden studio or, if you were here yesterday, a shoffice as some people are calling them.

So as you will see it’s basically a long thin apartment with the bedroom at the front, divided by a set of glass doors. This means the light flows all the way through but still allows some privacy for the bedroom – as there are full length curtains.

The colour scheme, as you can see, is very neutral but that combination of black, white and natural wood with linen textiles is always a classic. If that’s too stark for you think charcoal, milk and vintage (which is actually closer to what this is. Little Greene Lamp Black is a lovely soft black if you don’t want to stray into grey.

This colour combination also allows you to ring the changes you can see the odd splash of yellow and orange in the image above but you could change that to pink or green and/or bring in lots of plants for another texture and more colour.

The living space has been zoned; firstly by adding a vintage butcher’s block as an island. There are stools on one side which allow you to sit with your back to the kitchen/washing up.

The sofa then has its back to that and faces the fireplace so you can ignore the whole kitchen area should you so wish. Then, at the back a round table breaks up all the straight lines and creates a third place to sit.

Note also the black painted doors between the bedroom and living space and at the back. This really frames the view and draws your eye outside. It also creates a punctuation mark between the two space and looks more modern than white wood. If black isn’t your thing consider painting over all this in dark green. Little Greene Invisible Green is their darkest but Jewel Beetle is a lovely dark olive.

Now there is a garden office as I mentioned but if you don’t have one of those then this dressing table set up might work for you. It’s narrow (and most of us are on laptops these days) and it has drawers so you could put the mirror away in the day and swap it back out at night with computer and notebook in the drawer and mirror and moisturiser on top. If you changed the bed to a sofabed this would make the perfect multi-functional office bedroom too. A final point the wardrobe doors are flat, reach floor to ceiling and are painted the same colour as the walls – that cupboard has almost completely disappeared in this room which also makes it a much calmer space.

And then you can come out here and smell the lavender over your morning coffee? Who’s moving to south east London then? This is between Bermondsey and Peckham.

Tags : apartment for saleflat for saleSouth London apartmentthe househunterThe Modern House
Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. We did the same as you Kate – bought a house that was divided into flats but owned by same person. I’d always had a mini dream to buy a flat in an amazing old house and gradually and furtively buy each flat as they came up for sale until I owned the whole place. Everyone would think, wow how clever, hadn’t realised she was doing that. But of course that final seller would have…and held me to ransom for a squillion. Anyway, I hadn’t appreciated that I’d done this anyway- but without all the furtiveness and stress 🙂

  2. It really is beautiful! I agree, they’ve really made the most of it. I wouldn’t feel the need to change it at all. Bermondsey too….my fave! Reminds me of my twenties!

  3. Love everything apart from the London price tag! They’ve really made the most of this flat, it is all quite perfect.

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