The Vawdrey House

Madeira Park Tunbridge Wells

George and Will Ellse immediately fell in love with their double-fronted Edwardian pile on a quiet, tree-lined street in Tunbridge Wells, and made the leap from their Wimbledon terrace straight into the country life.

The house was beautiful from the outside and still retained many original features, but the layout was awkward for modern family life.

A small back kitchen, separate dining room and cold plastic conservatory, coupled with only one bathroom for its five bedrooms, meant they soon called in The Vawdrey House (with whom they had  worked with on previous London refurbishments) to help transform the house.

Adding a three-storey extension to the rear, converting the loft and opening up the back of the ground-floor to form one open family kitchen/living space, plus two single-storey extensions, has provided seven bedrooms, three bathrooms, lots of flexible living space and a utility, downstairs loo and dog room.

This additional space meant that the original two front rooms could be retained as a cosy 'winter' sitting room – still linked via the old Victorian french doors back into the dining area – and a large study for George, who runs her successful PR business from home.

A relaxed vibe runs through the whole house. A careful mix of vintage lighting, family antiques and quirky upholstery and curtains, combined with the crisp, contemporary extension and sleek bathrooms – has created a true 'heirloom' house for generations to come.

The contemporary family space at the back of the house works like a dream, offering that much needed 'together' space, without feeling vast or cold, in such a leafy setting. The rear wall of the house – in beautiful soot-stained red-brick – has been retained internally, offering a perfect backdrop for the dining area, against tongue-and-groove panelling and crisp architectural doors and roof lights.

The hand-built kitchen, with the essential Aga, forms the heart of the house, combining  the warmth of a traditional country kitchen with a  contemporary edge. Occupying the older rear of the house – once a warren small rooms – this is now combined with the new extensions, and is opened up to become a light-filled space with views into the garden.

'Look no further than The Vawdrey House,' says George, 'When we bought our forever house we knew we would need to undertake some building work. We wanted more space and the house needed some practical redevelopment (wiring, plumbing) before we could even look at the aesthetics. But that’s about all we knew. As with any busy working family, we just didn’t know where to start, how much it would cost or what we really wanted.

'The Vawdrey House took us by the hand and guided us through the whole process; from tendering builders to tender loving care choosing fabrics; The Vawdrey House came on the journey with us. The design work is exquisite – they helped us keep the Edwardian look we loved, but modernised it to suit the needs of a young family. They listened and probed to find out what we liked and factored that into the project – without forcing their preferences on us.

' I had never worked with an interior architect, and before this process I thought it was really all about paint swatches and tiles. How wrong I was. Quite simply, I don’t think we would have kept our sanity if we hadn’t worked with The Vawdrey House.'

Upstairs the master bedroom now has a stunning ensuite bathroom complete with copper bathtub, discreet WC and shower cubicles, and more of the original brick wall visible.

The newly converted top-floor feels as though it has always been there, with a lantern roof light bringing light down through the whole stairwell, and bespoke-turned newel posts on the stairs made to match the original ensuring the stairs feel continuous.

The three girls share a glamorous black-and-white tiled wet room, while the children's individual styles are reflected in their bedrooms.

"Look no further than The Vawdrey House. They helped us keep the Edwardian look we loved, gave us all the space we needed and modernised it to suit the needs of a young family. Quite simply, I don’t think we would have kept our sanity without them."

Photography by Siobhan Doran & Polly Eltes

Keep up to date with developments by subscribing to our news letter

More about us

Established by Jennifer Hamilton in 2012, The Vawdrey House offers a unique combination of bespoke design, strategic thinking and creative flair.

Now a RIBA Chartered Practice, we bring 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 55 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!