Home for the Holidays
THIS VICTORIAN HOME LOOKED LIKE IT WAS CREATED TO CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS.
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.”