A mindfully redesigned and extended Victorian villa
Sometimes what you wish for is not what will actually make you happy. Such was the case for the owners of this Victorian house, who had imagined life in a stucco Georgian terrace but, through circumstance and love of their local area, found themselves deciding to stay put in their double-fronted villa on a leafy south London avenue.
It was the Notting Hill-based architectural studio De Rosee Sa that provided the key to the family seeing their home in a new light. And, indeed, light played a key factor in the transformation of the house, which had not been renovated for many years. For this was no brisk zhuzhing up with an extension. It was a mindful approach to design: considering how the busy family of five liked to live; exploring the potential flow of the rooms; and appreciating period details while celebrating modern design at every turn. ‘The owners were very visual, so our discussions were always informed,’ says Max de Rosee, co-founder of the studio with his wife Claire Sa. ‘We went on a journey together and learned from each other.’
Max’s strategy was to start with the bones of the house. ‘We looked first at the organisation of the rooms and how to circulate through them,’ he says. ‘When the light and proportions were working, we began to consider how to create atmosphere. Only then did we move into materials and decoration.’
The approach paid off. The circular flow of the ground floor – within a series of square spaces that carry you through from hallway to sitting room to snug, to kitchen/diner to utility room and, finally, to the music room and back to the hallway – means the family can be together without being on top of each other. It feels encompassing: as communal or as private as you wish. But the design team also created a sense of balance – the two bays and wide front door on the façade are echoed by the three entrances to the expansive extension at the back. Here, oak-lined thresholds punch into the kitchen’s dining area and are repeated in the oak-surround windows and doors leading out onto the garden.
It is this delicate spatial ingenuity that means the home feels centred and allows for flourishes of drama, such as the double-height void above the kitchen, with its super-scaled windows letting light flood in from every direction. A bespoke porcelain and brass light by Stan Chen and Cristina Vezzini hangs in the void, drawing the eye up to the balcony above and seamlessly connecting the two floors.
Upstairs, the main bedroom and its en-suite bathroom are a lesson in mindful design, attuned to their functions of relaxing, bathing and sleeping. What started as a bedroom with a windowless dressing area leading into an average-sized bathroom is now an airy, elegant space that spans the depth of the house. ‘The bathroom and dressing room just weren’t working,’ says Max. ‘Each felt cramped, so we decided to open them up. There’s something special about a generously proportioned bathroom.’ While the expansive en suite looks luxurious, it works hard. Inset shelves and compact cupboards fill otherwise lost space around the marble basins, and bespoke wardrobes soar to the ceiling offering useful storage.
It was at this stage that decoration came into play. While a stickler for some rules – ‘doors opening into a hall must be uniform,’ says Max – the studio was confident about breaking boundaries. The marble used in the en-suite bathroom is a medley of mosaic floor tiles, Carrara slabs and marble brickwork. ‘As we have developed as a studio, we’ve become more playful,’ Max explains. ‘It’s about the atmosphere, but there does need to be a family of textures for it to work – in this case, the stones complement each other.’
While the colour scheme for the bedrooms is a restful mix of greys, whites and pale woods, there are clever splashes of colour – especially in the children’s rooms. A yellow window frame draws the eye in one of their bedrooms and the softest pink walls balance a grey tiled floor in their bathroom.
Back on the ground floor, colour has been used to atmospheric effect. A moody grey-blue cocoons the book-lined snug but this shade feels open and sophisticated in the adjacent, brighter sitting room, contrasting with the hit of the two ochre sofas. In the kitchen, a Scandi-meets-Californian vibe sees wide larch floorboards and a rustic woodburner complement the long horizontal lines of the kitchen shelving and island.
Two years on and the family are really comfortable using different spaces as the day progresses – a testament to the designers’ original vision. ‘It is so much better than I expected it was going to be,’ says the owner. ‘I thought that I didn’t want this style of house – but now I love it more than I could ever have imagined’.
De Rosee Sa: deroseesa.com
De Rosee Sa are a member of House & Garden’s online directory of design professionals The List. See their profile here.
Published at Mon, 17 May 2021 09:56:27 +0000