IT’S JUST AN IL­LU­SION

A be­guil­ing, ar­chi­tect-de­signed con­tem­po­rary in­te­rior has been cre­ated be­hind a tra­di­tional Vic­to­rian fa­cade

House Beautiful (UK) - - Inspiring Homes - WORDS SAN­DRA WALSH PHO­TOG­RA­PHY ADAM SCOTT

When Lizzie and Joe Fra­her’s next door neigh­bour said he was mov­ing and did they want first re­fusal on his house, they jumped at the chance. The cou­ple had been liv­ing in an ad­ja­cent flat for seven years, and with two young daugh­ters, lack of space had be­come an is­sue.

‘We couldn’t be­lieve our luck when we got the of­fer,’ says Lizzie. ‘We loved the Vic­to­rian two-up two-down ter­race, one of a row of work­ers’ homes built at the end of the 19th cen­tury, and we’d had our eye on it for some time.

‘The tim­ing was per­fect for us as it meant we could stay in a lo­ca­tion we’d grown to love and, as ar­chi­tects, Joe and I could show­case our tal­ents while creat­ing our dream fam­ily home.’

Ex­cited about the pro­ject ahead, the cou­ple started draw­ing up am­bi­tious and in­no­va­tive ren­o­va­tion plans, and by the time the house sale was com­pleted in April 2015, they were ready to start.

‘We were used to work­ing on this style of house at our ar­chi­tects’ prac­tice – you see them all over Lon­don – but one of the big at­trac­tions was that the orig­i­nal lay­out was in­tact. There was no need to undo pre­vi­ous ren­o­va­tion work, and the blank can­vas meant we could re­ally push the bound­aries with our design,’ says Lizzie.

First of all, the cou­ple stripped out the en­tire house, knock­ing down in­te­rior walls and the chim­ney breasts, and even re­mov­ing the floors so that only the façade re­mained. ‘Be­fore we started work, the house was gloomy and the rooms small. There was lit­tle stor­age space and a dark, straight stair­well with no nat­u­ral light led up to the first floor,’ says Lizzie. ‘We wanted to trans­form it into an open-plan four-bed­room space with lots of hid­den stor­age, which would work for modern fam­ily liv­ing and be full of light. The in­ten­tion be­hind re­mov­ing the floors was to cre­ate gen­er­ous floor-to-ceil­ing height in the at­tic area where we were putting in two be­d­rooms and a bath­room. We didn’t want peo­ple to have to stoop un­der low ceil­ings, so we re­placed the orig­i­nal tim­ber boards with a sunken con­crete floor, which gave us an ex­tra half a me­tre of floor height to play with.’

One of the stand-out fea­tures of the prop­erty is the stair­case, which Lizzie and Joe de­cided to po­si­tion di­ag­o­nally. ‘In­stead of hav­ing a dark stair­case go­ing straight up to the first floor, we have a turn­ing stair­case bi­sect­ing the house di­ag­o­nally. This meant we could make use of the orig­i­nal win­dow po­si­tions al­low­ing light to flood in to the stair­case area. And we could cre­ate equal-sized be­d­rooms on the first floor. I’m re­ally proud of the of­fice in the dead space on the land­ing. It’s light and airy and I love us­ing it.’

The kitchen is the heart of every home and Lizzie and Joe have made full use of the space here, in­stalling bi­fold win­dows by the sink in­stead of doors. ‘We have be­spoke units from

Shape Lon­don, and the one be­neath the win­dow acts as a sort of kitchen is­land so you can pass food out­side. This way we get ex­tra work­sur­faces for food prepa­ra­tion while still be­ing able to open up the back of the house. It’s lovely on warm days when the win­dows are folded back and the pivot door is open be­cause the gar­den be­comes an­other room. It’s per­fect when we have bar­be­cues for friends and fam­ily.’

An im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion for the cou­ple was to cre­ate ar­eas for their girls. ‘As well as a play­room we’ve added lots of lit­tle hid­den play sta­tions on all the other floors. Kids love com­ing over to our house. Not sur­pris­ingly, when friends come to visit, they’re left open­mouthed at the scale of the ren­o­va­tion. ‘We’ve pro­duced a sort of vis­ual key so ev­ery­one can see what parts of the house are orig­i­nal and which are new,’ says Lizzie. ‘We’ve got mark­ers point­ing out the level of the orig­i­nal floors and we’ve got a paint­ing show­ing the lo­ca­tion of the for­mer stair­case.

‘All the old walls have a plas­ter and paint fin­ish but we’ve clad all the new fea­tures in Dou­glas fir ply­wood, which is re­new­able, or­ganic and so soft and tac­tile. It al­most looks like wall­pa­per and wraps its way up through the house. We’ve used pol­ished con­crete through­out the ground floor and vinyl on the up­per floors so we wouldn’t need to have fussy thresh­olds. It all adds to the il­lu­sion of yet more space.’

No modern house would be com­plete with­out ad­dress­ing its car­bon foot­print. As well as tim­ber-framed dou­ble-glaz­ing and heavy in­su­la­tion, a so­lar hot ar­ray sys­tem has been in­stalled to give the fam­ily free heated wa­ter through the sum­mer.

‘My favourite fea­ture is the wild-flower gar­den we’ve put on the first-floor flat roof,’ says Lizzie. ‘Not only does it dis­guise a bor­ing, grey roof, but the flow­ers at­tract but­ter­flies and bees. I ab­so­lutely love stand­ing and look­ing out at it when it’s in full bloom.’

The work was com­pleted in just 10 months and the fam­ily love it. ‘We have so much to en­joy here,’ says Lizzie. ‘We knew we had to re­ally go for it and I hope we’ve shown what can be achieved. It’s a so­cia­ble house, and we’ve got so much stor­age I have cup­boards that are still empty af­ter two years liv­ing here. We’re very lucky.’

KITCHEN AND DIN­ING SPACE The un­usual win­dow above the sink is a bi­fold while the door to the gar­den works on a pivot. Lizzie and Joe up­cy­cled the Habi­tat ta­ble and painted it pink

HALL­WAY In­ven­tive stor­age makes the most of every inch of space in the hall­way, while all the tim­ber floors have been low­ered to in­tro­duce more height. The lev­els of the orig­i­nal floors cre­ate a design fea­ture on all the walls

HB

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