The Vawdrey House

Nevill Park Tunbridge Wells

Amazed by the grandeur of this striking Italianate villa and the ease of the commute, our clients eagerly moved from London to Tunbridge Wells. However, four years later, the initial wow factor and scale of the villa had given way to the reality of an awkward layout, disjointed extension, and poor heating and plumbing. They missed the ease and contemporary feel of their previous London home and approached us for help in modernising and reconfiguring the house.

The refurbished house now flows effortlessly and offers six bedrooms, three bathrooms, two beautiful period reception rooms, and a large, contemporary, double-height kitchen-dining space, all looking onto the garden. The house also boasts a panelled dining room, a study, a cloakroom, plus a utility and basement gym.

The house was always impressive in scale with four bedrooms and an adjoining coach house extension with another two bedrooms. This operated as a separate dwelling, only linked to the main house by one ground-floor doorway. 

Double-height for the majority of its footprint, the coach house had drafty timber-framed glazing at one end, and two mezzanine bedrooms, accessed via a tiny spiral staircase, at the other.

The coach house had become an unused formal dining room, and the family spent all their time in the small kitchen/dining room overlooking the front drive. 

To restore the grandeur of the house, period details were protected and recreated where they had been lost.

The two large reception rooms now make the most of their period features, with high ceilings, original shutters, and French windows opening onto the garden. 

At the front of the house, the old kitchen is now a panelled dining room providing a cosy dinner party space, complete with the original shutters. 

The kitchen has been relocated into the coach house extension, and overlooks the garden through sleek, double-height aluminium framed glazing.

A study and glamorous cloakroom make use of the smaller period rooms.

Burnt-oak engineered flooring was laid throughout, with a bespoke pattern in the hallway leading off to each space. A palette of smoky neutrals links all the spaces, with soft furnishings and artwork offering a slightly different feel in each room, all culminating in the fresh, bright, contemporary kitchen space.

Externally, the period house has been refurbished with new timber double-glazed sash windows, restoring the proportions of the windows and doors to their original form. 

The extension has been stripped back and reglazed with full-height aluminium framed glazing.

Inside, concealed lighting subtly highlights the old pitched roof and beams against the sleek, white backdrop, and the floor of Scandi-look porcelain plank tiles. 

The kitchen itself is minimalist with handleless white Corian, floating wall units, and subtle back-painted glass splashbacks. 

The wall of full-height hidden storage conceals everything the household needs, including a larder and the door to the utility room.  

A five-metre-long central island provides a strong focus and incorporates a bar and family dining table in banana-wood veneer.

The chandelier was in the house when the owners moved in, but we revamped it with a shot of hot pink.

The contemporary window looks down from the new landing link at first-floor level – keeping the whole of this large house feeling connected. 

An exposed log burner makes the bright kitchen cosy, come rain or shine. 

A pair of panelled doors leads back into the second period living room.

This family living room is less formal and has a more relaxed feel. A patchwork of inexpensive rugs helps to break up the large floor area and allows for spillages without stress. 

A wall of family photos and the children's artwork brings additional personality to the space.

The new linking corridor at first-floor level connects the main house to the upper mezzanine of the coach house. This turns the previous four bedrooms into a fully usable six. 

Adjustments to all the bedrooms have provided more even sizes for the three children, while retaining the period proportions. This also allowed us to enlarge the main family bathroom.

The bathroom now features separate wc and shower alcoves, with lots of concealed storage. A change of floor tile defines the zones and the use of a curved bath and floating basin counter makes sense of the awkward room shape. 

The linking corridor is lined with joinery panelling and a bookshelf spans the opening. Concealed light runs down its length and a hidden door leads to a 'secret' bedroom.

The master bedroom now features full-height built-in wardrobes, and the contemporary headboard floats in the centre of the large room, creating a dressing area behind.

The period marble fireplace has been retained and the calm heather colour scheme takes its influence from the traditional tiling in the surround.

‘ Within the first meeting we could see how great it could be – it made us feel quite emotional! We now can’t believe it is the same house, and we have totally fallen in love with our home again.’

Photography by Siobhan Doran

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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!