Home for the Hol­i­days


Victorian Homes - - Contents - By Sara Bird and Dan Duchars/the Con­tented Nest

This Vic­to­rian home looked like it was cre­ated to cel­e­brate Christ­mas.

Al­most as if it were meant to be, back in De­cem­ber 2012, Claire Barham be­gan her search for a new home that would in­clude space for her start-up cook­ery school.

She was look­ing for a small house with some. Choos­ing a home with five bed­rooms was never part of the plan. But from the mo­ment when Claire first en­tered her Vic­to­rian home, she fell in love. “I loved the char­ac­ter and the light and it shouted ‘Christ­mas’ to me,” she ex­plains. “There was a beau­ti­ful stair­case to make a grand en­trance, a great space for a tree and an el­e­gant ban­is­ter just wait­ing to be dec­o­rated.”

From the mo­ment when Claire first en­tered her Vic­to­rian home, she fell in love.

It’s easy to see why Claire fell for this house when look­ing around now, but at the time the lay­out was con­fus­ing with blocked door­ways and sad, drab dé­cor. It des­per­ately needed some TLC. Claire’s first main ob­jec­tive was to make the floor plan flow. “A lot of peo­ple thought I was mad mov­ing fea­tures around,” Claire re­calls. One of the main space changes was the kitchen. “I had an ex­ist­ing smaller base­ment kitchen, which I’d in­tended to be mine, but I needed a pur­pose­built one for the cook­ery school,” ex­plains Claire.

Sited in a new or­angery style ex­ten­sion, it mir­rors some of the house de­tails, in­clud­ing a large arched win­dow fea­ture. “In the end, the base­ment kitchen is now the school prep space and the new one is the one I use, as it’s such a lovely space to be in.” De­signed around a be­spoke is­land unit that serves as a stor­age area, workspace and break­fast bar, it’s per­fect for cooking, cof­fee or a glass of sea­sonal fizz. “I used a de­signer to help cre­ate the look I wanted,” ex­plains Claire. “There’s a ta­ble at the end for more ca­sual en­ter­tain­ing and use­ful

shelv­ing pro­vides more stor­age space as well as mak­ing the per­fect place for some of my Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions.”


The din­ing room is in the ex­pan­sive for­mer hall space. “It’s the first room you walk into from the street en­trance, and it just needed that ex­tra, grander ap­peal,” ex­plains Claire. To achieve this look, Claire opened up the blocked off door­ways and hall spa­ces. Then, a hand­some fire­place and log burner were in­stalled. She added an an­tique ta­ble, chairs and grand­daugh­ter clock to cre­ate the right feel, also re­uphol­ster­ing the chairs to fit the scheme. “It’s a won­der­fully hand­some room to host Christ­mas din­ner in,” shares Claire. “The per­fect place for all my fam­ily to eat well and en­joy one an­other’s com­pany.”

Claire’s liv­ing room is where she goes to un­wind. “I can close the door to ev­ery­thing and re­lax near the fire,” says Claire. De­signed to be brighter Frosted and dec­o­ra­tions more mod­ern and muted in color

glassware and ta­ble linen were used to style, Claire had the sofa and chairs, ot­toman and run­ners

mir­ror the pale striped wall­pa­per. made in lighter fab­rics with lots of cheer­ful cush­ions to add color.


Up­stairs, the clas­sic feel con­tin­ues. “When I moved into the house, it only had one bath­room, so I de­cided to lose some space from one of the bed­rooms and cre­ate a new bath­room,” ex­plains Claire. Her own bed­room is peace­ful and spa­cious thanks to the pro­por­tions. Fea­tur­ing an en suite and dress­ing room, the space flows re­ally well and is dec­o­rated in beau­ti­ful rose pink and mint.

“The house has al­ways had plenty of vis­i­tors over Christ­mas, and I play host for the three fes­tive days. Christ­mas eve is very re­lax­ing with supper in the kitchen. I share out the jobs on Christ­mas day. For the main event, we have starters in the kitchen, as it’s a nat­u­ral gather space. Din­ner is then served in the main din­ing room, then it’s presents by the fire be­fore we re­lax once again,” says Claire. “We have a lot of fun here. It’s a very spe­cial house for a very spe­cial time of year.”

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