Absolute beginner

Refurbishing the home she bought after her divorce proved a learning curve for Sara Hamilton. ‘ As a paediatrician, I’m trained to make important decisions in my field. But I had never chosen tiles, floorboards, kitchens and bathrooms, or done house refurbishment, andlacked confidence in these areas,’ she says. absolute beginner (7)

Sara enlisted the expertise of her friend and architect Johanna Ahrberg Jackson. ‘I wanted one communal space in the house to accommodate the needs of an eight year old, a 23 year old and a 40 year old – all of whom are very sociable,’ says Sara. ‘Johanna advised me to take down three walls – two separating the kitchen from the lounge and another separating the bathroom from the lounge.’ Creating the new open-plan kitchen, sitting room and dining area cost a metre from the bathroom – though raising the ceiling balanced the appearance. ‘Removing the kitchen wall improved the area and made four months living with rough floorboards, a temporary kitchen and a bath in the garden almost worthwhile,’ says Sara.And with her newborn she also have to find a place to store her best double jogging stroller after every time carrying the baby out.

An ugly built-in wardrobe was removed from her bedroom and replaced with a workbench-come-chest of drawers; her great dresses are displayed on an old coat stand. ‘I like the unconventionality, the turning expectations upside down. Just don’t open the door to the en-suite shower room or the contents of the former wardrobes will fall out,’ Sara laughs.