A reworked Victorian townhouse that is twice as nice

Finding creative solutions to joining two Victoria properties together has resulted in one inspirational family home that sings with character and charm.

The transformation that the owner and her husband imagined imagined for their Barnes, south­ west London home (which was, at that point two separate Victorian houses) was spectacularly ambitious. The overhaul – to combine the properties – would be dramatic and, not surprisingly, they needed an interior designer in which they could put their wholehearted trust. In time, they found Ali Robinson and Carolyn van Noort, of Robinson van Noort Design Studio and, 18 months later, the family settled into their unique home.

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Victorian townhouse

THE PROPERTY

We bought the original house twelve years ago and then, two years later, the neighbouring house was put up for sale. It was a perfect development opportunity. We rented out the second house for ten years, while getting the funds together to combine it with ours to accommodate our growing family of four children and a menagerie of pets.

The couple wanted to create a family home that would honour the fact it was once two buildings, but also felt like a complete entity. The houses had been built by the same architect so, from the outside, are easily seen as one building. We originally applied for planning consent to remove the internal wall between them, but this was refused so we had to come up with another way to connect the buildings. This new plan included a double rear extension for a large open-plan kitchen, nook and study, removing one staircase to create a triple-height void with a skylight and adding an aperture in the sitting room wall – as this party wall could not be taken down – to ensure a sense of flow. Conversely, because of restrictions on the project, we were able to create these peculiar, charming spaces.

Explore a happy family home in London

Victorian townhouse

LIVING ROOM

The choice of wallpaper was the starting point for this elegant scheme. As the owner says, ‘It is extraordinary; it makes the room look different from every angle, depending on the light and the time of the day.’ The owner wanted to retain original features, but she also wanted strong contemporary elements and to have furniture from a wide range of periods. ‘The rooms had to be liveable and welcoming. I did not want a show home where people would be afraid to sit down. I wanted a neutral base that was also warm, and I was clear that there should be no chrome. I also asked for a mix of fitted and freestanding furniture,’ she explains.

Victorian townhouse

KITCHEN

This spacious kitchen is part of a larger living area that was made by extending and combining the ground floor rooms at the back of both houses. A huge new pivot door and windows (above right) offer views of the garden, while light streams in through the skylight above. Instead of a chandelier or three pendant lights over the table, Miranda chose a more unique design. ‘It took a long time to arrange this piece as the lights are not in a line and hang at varying heights.’

Victorian townhouse

Cabinets in Mole’s Breath estate emulsion, £60 for 2.5L, Farrow & Ball, farrow-ball.com; and RAL Graphite Grey high gloss, ralcolorchart.com. Banquette in Mustang White, £27.48m, Yarwood Leather, yarwoodleather.com. Eames DSW chairs, £345 each, The Conran Shop, conranshop.co.uk. Bocci 28 Random pendants, £420 each, Chaplins, chaplins.co.uk.

Victorian townhouse

ENTRANCE HALL

This lacquered cupboard backs onto a matching row of units that houses the oven at the far end of the kitchen. A push-touch door at the end of the hall leads to a cloakroom.

Victorian townhouse

Similar vintage Italian brass-edged mirror, De Parma, deparma.com.

NOOK

‘I wanted somewhere I could relax and have coffee with friends or read and this space, with its low seating, is ideal,’ says the owner.

Victorian townhouse

Hay Mags modular sofa, from £805, Utility, utilitydesign.co.uk. Bespoke polished-plaster walls, Armourcoat, armourcoat.com.

STUDY

A window and glazed cabinet were added to what was once the party wall between the two houses, so that the family could use the spaces separately but not feel cut off from each other. ‘I was inspired to use the soft greys and citrus hues of my inherited rocking chair as the starting point for the colour scheme,’ says the owner.

Victorian townhouse

Peter Løvig Nielsen mid-century desk, Twentytwentyone, twentytwentyone.com. Tolomeo Mega Parete Satin wall lamp, £454.88, Ambiente Direct, ambientedirect.com. Glazed display cabinet in Hague Blue estate eggshell, £60 for 2.5L, Farrow & Ball, farrow-ball.com.

GARDEN

Inspired by a pergola designed by Hay Joung Hwang for the 2016 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Miranda asked her builder to work with garden designer Virginie Vallée to create a similar feature. The result is a garden that complements both the pergola and the house.

Victorian townhouse

Garden design, Virginie Vallée, Square Garden Design, squaregardendesign.com.

MAIN BEDROOM

‘We had to retain the chimney breast, but we removed the walls on either side, opening up the room so storage could be added behind the chimney breast,’ explains the interior designer.

Victorian townhouse

Curtains in Mohair in lvoire, £216m, Métaphores at Abbot+ Boyd, abbottandboyd.co.uk. Walls in Quiet White absolute matt emulsion, £43.20 for 2.5L, Papers and Paints, papersandpaints.co.uk.

Victorian townhouse

MAIN BATHROOM

The polished plaster shower wall is waxed for a fully waterproof finish, while the cabinetry’s chamfer rim adds an architectural quality to this understated space.

Victorian townhouse

Coniston freestanding bath, £3,900; Vola 112 wall-mounted mixer, £870, both CP Hart, cphart.co.uk. Papillon small pendant, £284, Forestier at Made In Design, madeindesign.co.uk.

Victorian townhouse

CHILD’S BEDROOM

‘My daughter was eight when we completed the work on the house, so I made her room neutral enough so that she won’t grow out of it too quickly; says the owner.

Victorian townhouse

Bird stickers, from £22.50, Wall-Art, Wall-Art.com. Ludde sheepskin rug, £30, Ikea, ikea.com.

Victorian townhouse

CHILDREN’S BATHROOM

‘This wet room is resilient enough for all the showers my teenage girls take; says the owner. The grout was chosen to match the flooring.

Victorian townhouse

Mayfair White tiles, £55sq m, Stone & Ceramic Warehouse, stoneandceramicwarehouse.co.uk. Catalano Premium 50 basin, £474, CP Hart, cphart.co.uk.

Photography/ Davide Lovatti

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