A grown-up house... with a bit of playfulness
£1million transforming the house they bought four years ago for £3.9million. What began as a renovation project to do up and sell on morphed mid-renovation into their long-term family home. “We realised we wouldn’t find another opportunity like this, a huge house in need of improvement and the only one left in the street that hadn’t been extended at the back,” says Aldridge. So she went to town with her imagination – and budget – adding 1,000 sq ft with a three-storey extension at the rear to create a 3,900 sq ft house with seven bedrooms, four reception rooms and three bathrooms.
The ground floor packs a punch as soon as you enter, with its 63ft-long open-plan living space running from the front reception room through the kitchen to the L-shaped reception/ dining room that leads into the garden. “As a mum, I wanted to see my children, which is why we created a big, open space. Otherwise, people put playrooms in the basement that no one wants to use,” she says.
The décor exudes personality, with its mishmash of ornamental items from the likes of Lorfords Antiques and Carlton Davidson, pieces of custom-made fur- niture by Julian Chichester and the now rare sight of a wall of books for reading rather than design purposes.
The eye is instantly drawn, too, to the bold colours – in particular the vivid green gloss on the skirting boards, window frames and ceiling – a speciality of Gavin Houghton, the interior designer Aldridge recruited to bring drama to the house. “The painters questioned our choice of colours, which were all slightly different variations of green, but the effect is grownup with a bit of playfulness,” she says. “The glossy ceiling reflects everything at night and creates a wonderful sense of height.”
Houghton also came up with the idea for the “conversation pit” that provides the focal point in the L-shaped reception room. “He really knows how to push boundaries,” says Aldridge. “He’d never done one before though. Nor had the architect, structural engineer, upholsterer or I, so it was a steep learning curve.”
The 8ft-wide pit turned out to cost £20,000, more than anticipated –