Rooms without frontiers
For the sake of maximising space, are we too quick to rip out internal walls?
WHEN design historians look back at the history of interior design in the 21st century, they might do well to look at the effects of Stamp Duty. Although the upper reaches of the property market canter along quite happily, there’s no doubt that many homeowners are understandably reluctant to contribute yet more to the Exchequer than they do already.
It doesn’t involve anything untoward: you either buy a wreck to restore, thus attracting less of a tax burden, or you try to add every square foot you can from your existing home in an effort not to move. In either case, it’s great news for builders, but not such great news for the Treasury.
But how good is it for houses? Although listed properties are better protected from ham-fisted attempts to reconfigure them, less starry, but no less charming, period properties are often pierced from every direction by structural steel beams as architects strive to maximise the amount of space with an open-plan layout. There’s nothing wrong with any of these things when they’re done sympathetically, but all too often they aren’t.
There’s a rarely questioned modern doctrine which dicates that the only way to maximise the space in a period property is to create an open-plan arrangement of rooms, each one seamlessly joined to the next. It might all make perfect sense on an architect’s plan, but doesn’t necessarily translate well into reality when