The Vawdrey House

Foxgrove Road Beckenham, Kent

This double fronted Victorian villa was always an impressive scale, but it still had a small dark kitchen ‘below stairs’ at the rear with no real connection to the rest of the house or to the garden. Because the kitchen was there the family tended to live in this small dark room without really using the rest of the living spaces.

The whole house has now been transformed from top to bottom, with a rework of the flow of the spaces; opening up the staircase and clever roof tweaks to steal extra space and create a bathroom on the top floor out of a wasted water tank cupboard. 

We are thrilled to have received an award for this project with The Sunday Times British Homes Awards in 2019.

On the ground floor a new glamorous panelled cloakroom and bootroom has been formed at the entrance, within a former small playroom creating space for all the day to day mess to be hidden away. 

The look of the house is rather ‘Romantic Victorian’ with a contemporary twist. The client loved the period features of the house, and was keen to experiment with colours and pattern to create drama, but most of all fun, in the house. 

The previously cavernous and cold ‘front to back living room’ had been knocked through in the past but was too large for day to day family use, instead becoming the reserve of Christmas parties. 

We have added double glazed steel framed doors between the rooms, opening up the original second doorway again and creating two separate rooms once more. The rooms have slightly different feels and are now back in daily use, while still possible to link together as one when the occasion requires it. 

Crucially, the use of glazing means the amazing daylight is still retained from front to back as it moves around the house; something which would have been missed if the rooms were permanently divided. 

The main grand staircase originally ran only from ground floor to first floor, with a boxed in ‘servants' stair’ leading from ground floor downstairs to the kitchen via the back door, cellar door and a toilet. 

We have removed the boxed section, opened it all up, and recreated the ornate stairs and balustrade right down to the lower flight, forming a three storey grand staircase right up through the centre of the house. Dropped pendants hang down through the void, staggered on every level right down to the base. The family’s art work forms the focus on the staircase including many pieces by the children, Victorian deeds of the house and photographs of family holidays.


On the lower level the kitchen has been extended out into the garden in blue engineering brick, creating an expansive kitchen dining space. 

Set into the kitchen panelling is the window seat and bookcase, which glimpses through the contemporary sharp glazing to the romantic roses on the original Victorian verandah beyond. 

A long narrow roof light runs the length of the extension, sitting above the visible roof joists for a lofty feel. 

The kitchen glows down one side of the new space in deep ultramarine with a Carrara marble island. Accents of brass and decorative tiles on the floor give it a relaxed feel. A giant butcher block oversails the island, creating the perfect space for drinks and tapas. 

The entire back wall is lined in ultramarine tongue and groove cladding, concealing both a walk-in pantry and the sliding door through to the hallway.   

Along the opposite side the entire wall has been tiled in a mix of glazed bricks, offering a chic restaurant feel to the dining space. 

A large dresser offers drinks and breakfast functions close to the table. 

Outside, the sleek engineering brick extension, while contemporary in style, sits effortlessy against the London stock brick and traditional verandah.

Beyond the gardens also have the romantic feel, with a stunning ‘walk through’ green house and formal herb garden, set amongst scented climbers in an arched walkway. 

Subtle changes in the brickwork detail ties the extension to the house and the original contrasting redbrick courses.

The original cellar has had an inexpensive face-lift to create a dream utility and laundry space, complete with exposed copper pipework and brick tiled floor.

Upstairs the master suite has taken over the whole front of the house. 

The bedroom is a sumptuous mix of fabrics and textures with Timorous Beasties wallpaper and a French velvet bed. Morrocan tiles and a free standing bath complete the luxurious feel. 

Clever reuse and upcycling of the client’s own furniture mixed with new and designer pieces has given the house an established and unique feel.


The mezzanine level previously housed a large family bathroom and only one bedroom with a small study. 

A new timber panelled guest shower has now been created in the small study, and the large bathroom has reverted to a second guest room. A palette of deep navy and mustard yellow sets off the original pine flooring and contemporary taps.

On the top floor there was previously no bathroom, just a wc.  This was adjacent to an eaves level storage area which housed the old water tank for the house. 

By extending the roof at this point to make a new mansard to full height, we have created extra footprint into which we have made a new family bathroom lit by a wide rooflight. 

This serves the two childrens bedrooms, which each have their own personalities.

' The Vawdrey House team are unique. Working with Jenny is like making an incredibly tasteful, resourceful and clever friend; she guided us through each step of the design and it was just brilliant fun! Graeme is extremely thoughtful, technically knowledgeable and pragmatic; having him project manage the build was absolutely the right decision. With their help we now have a home which still makes us pinch ourselves; it is beautiful and perfectly functional in equal measure! '

' The Vawdrey House team are unique. With their help we now have a home which still makes us pinch ourselves; it is beautiful and perfectly functional in equal measure! '

Photography by Siobhan Doran Photography

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More about us

Established by Jennifer Hamilton in 2012, The Vawdrey House is an award winning RIBA Chartered Practice which offers a unique combination of bespoke design, strategic thinking and creative flair. We bring both architecture and interior design together to create spaces which work for you from the inside out.

Jennifer Hamilton and Graeme Montague, two thirds of The Vawdrey House trio, have a shared history as Directors of award winning design consultancy MoreySmith, working with clients such as Sony Music, EMI Music, Cadbury and Channel 4 as well as on high end residential refurbishments.

Third partner Ian Chapman, a RIBA Chartered Architect, adds his expertise in contemporary architecture for exciting educational and public spaces.

Their combined experience of 60 years in the industry brings a level of professionalism and creativity to the design and management of your project which is invaluable. 

Working across London and the South of England we have a growing portfolio of happy clients and inspiring spaces.

With a small, select team of designers and architects, The Vawdrey House is passionate about what we do and most of all, want you to love it too.

Whether for your home, or a public space, we take the time to get to know you, understand your requirements and find exciting design solutions for your project. Our 'top to toe' design approach involves bringing the client into the process, designing a space for you, with you.

Close affiliations with brand consultants plus graphic and web design teams mean we can also provide a fully coordinated scheme for your retail or business space, down to website, menus or signage, whatever is required.

We work closely with you throughout, following everything through to the smallest detail, and helping you through the process.
That is what we believe makes a great design, even better.

We are design-led, and like to review the way the whole building works, understanding how you use the spaces and suggesting functional and layout changes to improve the way the spaces work together. We design the exterior architecture, the internal layouts and all the interior design and fittings, right down to furniture and accessories. 

We progress the design in stages, working up the outline usually with a multitude of options in the first instance, then gradually firm up the scheme as you clarify which direction you want to go in. Once we have the overall scheme in place we work into the detail and start to specify every element, ending in a production package incorporating everything you need to tender and construct the project.

We can also manage the entire process for you, putting together the project team, gaining planning consent and party wall awards, finding contractors, tendering the works, managing the building contract and monitoring the works on site.

We stick with you to the end, ensuring all snagging is resolved, and produce a completion pack with all necessary certificates, guarantees, maintenance and supplier contact info so you have everything in one place.

Have a browse through our latest projects and see the end results!