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