Formerly divided into bedsits and used to house nuns from a local convent, this property was in much need of work when Isobel and Zac Nicholson bought it in 2010. Both busy with careers in film and television - Isobel as a producer, and Zac as a director of photography - they enlisted our help to transform the house.
'I couldn't bear even coming here when we bought it, and wasn't convinced it would ever feel like home.' recalls Isobel.
Having a quirky layout, which saw every room a few steps up from the last, it required some clever shuffles throughout to make the best use of every inch and build storage into every nook and cranny. The house was gutted from top to bottom, and a new side return extension with glass roof added to create a fabulous family entertaining space opening onto the garden.
The house now offers five bedrooms, two with ensuite showers, plus a family bathroom. Downstairs forms one open-plan living space and below is a basement utility, boot room and WC.
The front room is the more 'grown up' sitting room, accessed from the hallway by new double doors - these centre on the marble fireplace, enhancing the proportions of the original house. Previously a closed-off room on a separate level, a frameless glass balustrade now divides this living room from the lower kitchen and dining level below - allowing light to flood in from both sides.
Limed oak flooring runs throughout the ground floor, with a mainly neutral palette, accented by antiques and beautiful photography taken by Zac over the years.
The kitchen is a contemporary take on the farmhouse kitchen, complete with Aga and butler’s sink, but with a subdued palette and elegant honed Carrara marble surfaces. A large island and tall bi-fold doors make it a perfect space for entertaining.
With a carefully planned utility room in the formerly underused basement space, plus several storage areas fitted into the eaves and less useable areas of the basement, together with bike and bin storage in the front garden, the house neatly caters for the practicalities of family life. This is complemented by a perfect courtyard garden at the rear, complete with log store, herb garden and a built-in climbing frame and swing.
The master suite includes a dressing area and ensuite shower room, making clever use of the space with built-in wardrobes, recesses either side of the bed (instead of bedside tables), a large window seat in the box bay with drawers underneath, and display shelving around the recessed TV.
Decorative patterns and a rich palette of finishes have been used throughout, lending an individual elegance to each space.
Four new rooflights have transformed the stairwell and landings all the way down the house, and glazed slot windows throughout bring daylight into the deeper spaces. These are illuminated at night by concealed lighting for added effect. The previously gloomy top floor now provides a light-filled guest suite or apartment for a nanny, with flexible concealed storage.
The children's bedrooms include all the necessary storage for toys and clothes paired with fun wallpapers and flashes of colour, which can easily be updated as the children grow.
"Jennifer has impeccable taste, is an inspiration to work with and thinks of every detail."
Photography by Zac Nicholson
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