Client Interview – Two and a Half Storey House

We speak to clients Andrew and Beth about their recently completed, Two and a Half Storey House, to hear what it was like working with us and find out what it’s like living in a Bradley Van Der Straeten designed house! To see more pictures of the project check out the project page here (

BVDS Architects Two and a half story house timber ply joinery exposed joists rooflight wardrobe kids room toys

What is your favourite element of the design? 

The genesis of the whole project was finding a solution to add more space and facilitate growing family life after a number of failed planning applications. All in all, it has been a bit of a journey! The whole project hinged on using the ceiling of a bedroom to house the bed of the room above. It’s a really simple concept that was taken to the next level by BVDS and allowed the whole project to be done under permitted development rights.  If you think about it when a bed is inserted into a room the usable floor space dramatically decreases. By integrating the bedframe into the fabric of the design allowed space to be freed up for other things, like the main hallways. The communal living spaces are a really important part of the design and it would have been easy to try and cram in more bedroom space. Instead, the main hallway that BVDS drew at the core of the house is a real triumph in our view.

BVDS Architects Two and a half story house ply timber exposed joist rooflight kid running play loft extension
The bed in the loft room is a raised platform, to create enough head-height for a room below.

What difference has the project made to your life and the way you use your home?

It’s a really easy family house to live in and we love being able to see our eldest son playing in his room using the hallway window. From the moment my son saw his room he loved it and will play for hours in there! Considering the limited amount of ‘actual’ floor space we have added, the feeling of space is incredible, and the amount of storage sets this project apart (Beth’s favourite room is probably the easy access ‘loft’ space on the stairs!). Everything is connected to the core concept and has been well thought through.

BVDS Architects Two and a half story house window ply exposed joists child room loft extension
Seeing into the bedroom from the hallway is one of the clients favourite design features.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone else planning their project?

If you have conviction in the initial idea, make sure you follow it through fully. At some points, we started to have doubts about the spaces we were creating but now that it is finished, we are blown away with the design and we couldn’t be happier.

What was the process like working with an architect?

Working with an architect who has really thought about the detail is important. George and the team at BVDS created a house that we can truly live in. Every corner of the house has been considered and thought through to make living easier.

BVDS Architects Two and a half story house ply storage wardrobe exposed joists
Using every corner of the house and putting it to good use, including these integrated bedroom wardrobes.

What was the brief, what were the challenges and what was the solution?

Wow, it’s been a bit of a journey. We bought the house knowing that we wanted to add more space and applied for multiple planning applications to extend. For various reasons (too many to go into detail here about) our plans were rejected. We batted a few different ideas around for a number years but when George and I discussed the idea of putting the bed in the eaves above and 2nd bedroom so we can run the project under PD rights it was a bit of a eureka moment. From there BVDS really brought the design to life in a way we never thought possible. It feels a little bit more special to finally get there after such frustration through then planning process.

We used some fairly uncommon techniques and products through the build so it was a challenge working with new applications. Achieving as much head height as possible was a major priority through the entire project and BDVS really took this to the next level in the design because there was always a trade-off between rooms. Every mm of head height/room space was considered and well thought through. The roof, for example, uses vacuum insulation panels to save height and is the insulation up there is only 30mm thick! The panelling was made off-site by the manufacturer and assembled by the builders but to say it was a challenge to fit and get mm perfect is an understatement!

BVDS Architects Two and a half story house rear garden loft extension glazing sliding doors exterior
The half-height roof extension bypassed the need for planning permission.

Is there anything that has surprised you that you weren’t expecting?

Well, we really enjoyed the build process (but that wasn’t really a surprise). I think the main surprise was how much we love the plywood! Plywood is a very warm material and you don’t see it used in such volumes on typical projects. We love how warm it makes the house feel. I think we were also surprised by how much space we have to live in. As I said above, it’s a really easy house to live in.

BVDS Architects Two and a half story house staircase hallway solid ply balustrade handrail steps
Plywood was used for the stairs and handrails giving the house a warm and unified feel.

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