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

Homes & Gardens - - CONTENTS - Words Jes­sica Doyle Pho­to­graphs Jonathan Gooch

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.

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