Publication: House Beautiful
Publication Date: September 2010
Article title: “It’s an office, teen hideaway and a peaceful summer house”
Article content: “Franny Moyle, 45, a TV producer and author, lives in Hackney, east London, with her husband, Richard Curson Smith, 45, a film-maker, and their three children Rosa, 13, Vincent, nine, and Tommy, six.”
“When we bought the house 11 years ago it felt cavernous, with four bedrooms and four floors. But Richard works from home and uses one of our four bedrooms as his study, and over the years the house has filled with clutter that comes along with three children. When I went freelance in 2005, the only space where I could work was at the kitchen table, which wasn’t ideal. Then two years ago, we decided to build a studio in the garden.
“Although it’s only a few paces walk from the house, it means I still have to leave home to work, and that’s important.
“We’ve got a big L-shaped garden which measures 100 by 70 feet, and the studio sits in a corner that had been dead space, just a mountain of rubble covered with brambles and buddleia. It was a relief to dig it up. We don’t feel we’ve lost space – on the contrary, we’ve gained a focus to the garden.
“We found the design and architecture company Ecospace online and liked its elegant, substantial designs. Although we didn’t need planning permission, we live in a conservation area and had to get agreement from the council. The project took around four months, but the building went up in just over a week, and the groundwork took a week, too. The cost of the building itself was £33,630 plus VAT, which included a bathroom, kitchen, underfloor heating and extra windows and cupboards. Having water and power installed pushed the total price up to around £45,000.
“The studio is 22.3 by 10.8 feet and built of western red cedar wood. I have one big work area, two desks, shelving, a sofa, a little bathroom, and a small kitchen with a hob, sink and fridge, so I don’t have to leave the studio for lunch.
“In the evenings Rosa likes to sneak in with her girlfriends. They can put music on quite loud and watch movies on the laptop. On summer evenings and weekends, we use the studio as a summerhouse, when the fridge is useful for cooling beers and wine. Sometimes my husband goes in, lies on the couch and goes to sleep.
“We did have one moment of trepidation. Just as we committed to this considerable amount of money, the credit crunch began. However, the studio improves the value of the house, and it’s improved my efficiency as a writer. From business point of view it works, and from a family point of view we wouldn’t be without it.”