Planning limitations meant a clever approach had to be taken when this period home was renovated. Now it provides the ideal setting for busy family life
A clever approach had to be taken when this listed period property was renovated, with striking results.
Sarah and Matthew Walker moved into this Georgian house in west London in 2004, when its interior design was a far cry from what you see here. “There was a lot of wood panelling and a dark, miserable kitchen,” says Sarah. Although they redecorated and replaced the kitchen, by the end of 2013 the couple realised the time had come to completely refurbish the house to accommodate their changing needs and those of their children, now aged 12, 11 and nine. Here, Sarah explains how she married her modern tastes with the period architecture.
What was most important about the redesign? Tall, narrow houses such as this are not well suited to modern life so the redesign was an opportunity to rework the internal space. Our kitchen-dining room, for instance, was on the ground floor, which meant we spent all our time there, but we wanted to find a way that would make it easier to use the whole house. I think the key to it was extending the lower ground floor and moving the kitchen down there, turning the original kitchen into a sitting room and moving the bathrooms.
How involved were you in the project? We asked Holloways of Ludlow to carry out the work. I’ve known Rob Burnett, who started the company with his sister Sarah, for a while – he has an amazing eye. I worked very closely with the team, designing a lot of bespoke cabinetry and cupboards. I love hidden spaces, which we created all around the house.
How would you describe the decorative style? I really like contemporary spaces and organic materials, but I also want everything to be functional and comfortable, not purely decorative. We wanted to respect the age of the house by not over-furnishing it; for the look to be clean-lined, letting colours and materials provide the artistic touches.
What challenges did you encounter? As the house is Grade Ii-listed, there’s not a lot we could do in structural terms. The lower ground floor was originally a pottery workshop so we didn’t need permission to change that and add the skylight, but we couldn’t touch the layout on the other floors.
What took up the biggest part of your budget? We probably spent about twenty-five per cent of our budget on the joinery. As the walls and ceilings are uneven, we needed a lot of bespoke work done, but it was definitely worth it.
In hindsight, would you do anything differently? I’d have spent more time finishing the design concept, seeing it all the way to the end. Little details play such an important part in helping to bring a house to life.
What advice do you have for anyone refurbishing a period
property? You have to embrace its period idiosyncrasies, otherwise you’ll get yourself in a pickle. At the same time, be determined and trust your own vision. Although redoing the wiring or plumbing is expensive, it’s well worth it. It’s no good having a lovely refurbished house if you can’t have a shower at the top because the water pressure isn’t right.