The Vawdrey House

Longfield Avenue London W5

Our clients, originating from the US and South Africa, were used to large indoor-outdoor living floors and craved the space and light lacking from many London houses. 

They came to us having already obtained planning permission for a rear extension but not the loft conversion they needed to make this house work, which had been turned down by the council. 

The house was double-fronted with great proportions, but the hallway’s straight staircase blocked the route to the proposed new extension and the first floor lacked cohesion. 

We started afresh with the design and looked at various options, including a possible basement, but in the end decided the top floor would certainly offer the best quality living space, and be more cost efficient.

Following a pre-application and protracted negotiations with the council we succeeded in getting a large mansard roof extension approved, along with an enlarged rear extension. 

The house was essentially fully stripped back, and the key internal move was to relocate the stairs from the central hallway to the side. This gives a view straight through the house from the front door to the garden. It also allowed for the creation of a panelled stairwell and striking triple-height atrium up through the centre of the house, which is flooded with light by the rooflights. 

Taking a step down from the main house, the rear extension opens up to full-height glazing, complemented by rooflights and a picture window. The ceiling of the living area features exposed steelwork and joists, coupled with suspended concrete pendants. 

To achieve the new top floor we developed a central flat roof area hidden behind the recreated rear pitch, which pleased the planners and local residents association.

At the rear, the new extension runs full width. We were limited in height by planning restrictions and we therefore dug down three steps internally to regain height. 

The extension has a stepped façade of blue engineering bricks: one side is filled almost entirely with steel-framed glazing, the other ‘wing’ features a textured brick arrangement surrounding the picture window with a Corten steel reveal. 

The house has a strong identity with the new engineering brick extension nestling comfortably against the original London Stock façade. 

Polished concrete floors reflect the abundance of light, while the backdrop of the oak and black kitchen adds warmth. The sliding reeded glass panel conceals day to day mess, while the island is wrapped in stainless steel for ultimate practicality.

The picture window seat is the perfect spot to view the garden, and it also conceals storage drawers below.

A log burner sits in front of the rear glazed doors, making this seemingly summer space just as appealing on a rainy winter’s day. 

“ The Vawdrey House are a pleasure to work with. They really took their time to understand not only what we were looking for both in terms of style, materials and feel, but also how we live and would like the house to be used. We are delighted with the end result and recommend them to everyone we can!”

Steel framed doors open the rooms onto the central hall, with exposed brickwork to the dining room flank wall.

The high skirtings and large architraves and cornices have been restored, and the contemporary panelling and concrete flooring sits very well with its Victorian counterparts.

The redesigned spaces are both beautiful and functional, while satisfying planning requirements. Internally, the colours follow a strong, almost monochrome palette, punctuated here and there by warm dusky pinks and the warmth of marble, oak and brass pops throughout. 


 At the far end of the dining room a 3.5m high metal shelving unit divides the study area from the dining room. This is on wheels and the protruding part can swing back to lie flat to the wall, enabling dinner parties to seat 26.

The new stairwell increases the drama of the house and is enhanced with dark painted panelling, concealing the entrance to utilities, the cloakroom, a laundry chute and the family bathroom. A bespoke balustrade winds to the top floor, and features bronze spindles and a richly polished curved handrail.

The master suite occupies one side of the first floor, leading through double doors into the dressing room. 

The bathroom and dressing room ceilings have been lowered to convert the loft above, but in such a way as to retain the period front rooms’ windows and cornice. This has given a decent head-height on the top-floor, without raising the ridge height of the house.

The large box bay features a built-in drawer unit with day bed on top. 

The master shower and WC are concealed behind the marble basin wall. Polished concrete walls offer a seamless look.

Upstairs the rear bedroom has been opened up to the pitch of the roof, providing a cool lofty bunk room for both boys.

Three further bedrooms and two further bathrooms are reached by the new central stair as it snakes up through the triple height atrium to the balcony landing at the top.


"They had a bold vision in moving the configuration and stairs around, which turned the centre of the house into a light, dramatic focal point and gives it a real wow factor. They successfully steered us away from some impractical decisions, helped us keep the clutter at bay with loads of hidden storage and have managed to help us create a very kid friendly yet stylish home."

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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!