An example of downsizing when renovating a Victorian end of terrace


Renovating rooms usually means making them bigger and better, or at least better. You rarely renovate a room to intentionally make it smaller, but sometimes – especially in small houses – compromising space in a room is the only way of gaining room where it’s most needed.

In this article, I share an example from the renovation of our former Victorian end of terrace home in Oxford: the transformation of my small office and WC into my new smaller office.

Here’s a comparison between the new (left) and the old (right) first-floor layout.

Issues with the old first-floor layout

In the renovations, everything revolved around solving ‘the stairs problem’, which was aggravated by having a wonky end of terrace wall. There was a spiral staircase from the ground floor to the first floor and a paddle staircase from the first floor to the loft space. Of course, the first floor landing was an absolute joke. It looked like this:

first-floor landing

The WC door on the left opening outwards made the whole landing situation even more ridiculous. On top of that, as shown in the old layout picture, we only had a WC on the first floor; the bathroom (with no toilet) was in an outhouse on the ground floor.

What we wanted

  • A full bathroom on the first floor.
  • Normal wooden stairs going from the ground floor all the way up to the second floor.

Both things required space and downsizing the office was the compromise.

Solving the issues

This is what solving the first-floor issues involved:

  • Taking down the wall separating the old office and the WC.
  • Destroying the paddle staircase and moving the boiler into a cupboard in the new office.
  • Making extra room for the new bathroom by putting in a new wall and downsizing the office.
  • Building new custom-made wooden stairs and creating a new landing.

The new office

The office size went from 7.7sqm to 5.75sqm. Downsizing proved helpful when deciding how to furnish the new office; or rather, it was helpful because there wasn’t much to decide. I’ve got a big desk (1.60cm × 80cm) which would only fit in the left corner under the window, so that’s exactly where it went. Despite the big desk, there was enough room left for a tall bookcase and a lower bookcase for all my books and reference materials.

Once sitting at the desk, the office didn’t feel claustrophobic at all, as I worked facing the window and had some nice garden views. The smaller additional window brought a lot of extra light in.

The room transformation in pictures

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Irene Corchado Resmella

Irene Corchado Resmella

I'm a Spanish freelance translator living in the UK since 2011. After fully renovating and selling a Victorian end of terrace house in Oxford, I recently relocated to Edinburgh with my Scottish husband.

In The Home Reporter I share everything home and lifestyle – from renovation stories and interiors inspiration to tips and anecdotes about buying a house, working from home and relocation. Lover of bright spaces, wooden floors and matte finishes.

Find me on Instagram.

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