With a big leap of faith, our clients took the brave decision to purchase Thames House. A Grade II listed shipbuilder’s house with adjoining derelict cottage on the banks of the River Thames.
Charmed by the property’s direct river access onto the tow path, our clients were able to see beyond the poor state of repair the 17th Century building was in. They had a vision that this historic building could, with the right investment, care, and attention, be transformed into a characterful and utterly unique family home.
Recommended by a previous client, the new property owners came to us with an open brief to improve the layout and flow of the home, and where possible, extend the property to gain more space for their family of five.
Gaining planning approval on this project was extensive, with stakeholders from Historic England and the local planning department as well as a tree protection order all having a bearing on the design of the structure that stands today.
BIID Awards 2023
Grade II Listed
Ground floor extension
Roof terrace & landscaping
Before - 217 sq m
After - 260 sq m
4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
Furniture & accessories
'What made The Vawdrey House standout was their ability to combine high quality design with the practicalities of a family home.'
Entering via the front door, one steps into a formal dining room. Immediately one’s eye is drawn to the back of the room, to a newly created window seat that offers a perch with storage below, as well as a bespoke hidden stepping system out of the cottage and onto the tow path below.
Sat in this cosy seating area you could be forgiven for thinking that you are in fact, on the deck of a boat meandering down the river.
This part of the house was once the main pub saloon, and had no real period features left to speak of apart from some panelling to the front living room.
Our refurbishment retained what details remained and enhanced or reinstated elements where they had been lost, to regain the modest Georgian detailing which felt appropriate.
Much of the joinery and fittings we have added are contemporary, but are carefully chosen to work well with the historic feel of the building.
In order to make the layout work for family life, we gained permission to remove one wall between two smaller parlour rooms, to create the large front to back room which now forms the kitchen.
The most significant addition to the property was a contemporary, partially sunken, 30 sq m wing that we designed on the eastern flank of the building. This extension allowed us to materially increase the footprint of the ground floor, making the home more usable for modern family life.
The new structure is multi-faceted. Despite being an appendage to the existing cottage, the new building connects and unifies the kitchen and living spaces and is a feat of technical and environmental engineering.
The room incorporates three distinct sets of steps, a necessary structural feature, that enabled us to dig down below the level of the river to create height in one half of the room, while allowing us to build a raised complex floating floor above the roots of a tree that was protected by a TPO.
In practice, the different levels have added character to the room and helped to zone the open plan area into distinct functional spaces, while also maintaining a tantalising slot view of the river itself.
The sunken half of the room is an informal lounge area with a slim wall-to-wall architectural glazed window. Offering an abundance of light and a tantalising view of trees and sky, the opening has been designed to sit above eye level to maintain privacy from passing pedestrians on the towpath below.
At the other end of the room, one steps up to an informal faux leather banquette seating area which provides a convenient place to eat, or to complete homework or arts and crafts activities under the supervision of an adult who may be in the kitchen.
With direct access via steel framed doors onto the garden, this area helps connect the house to the large outdoor space in the summertime.
From this level the view through the same slot window is of the flowing river itself.
The upper floors of the home contain four bedrooms, three of which enjoy unobstructed river views.
But the real success of this floor is the newly created master suite. The original long narrow hallway had ample space but created a gangway feel on the upper floors.
By incorporating some of the landing space into the master suite, we were able to create a dressing room lobby to the master bedroom and bathroom with built-in joinery and dramatic dark paint colours.
The remaining landing is squarer in shape and more in proportion with the cottage, which with the newly installed rooflight, has created a greater sense of space on the upper floors.
The wallpaper in the home has special significance as it was designed and manufactured by 96 year-old Marthe Armitage, resident of the area and an old friend of the previous owners. The homeowners’ youngest child was invited to the studio to help print the wallpaper that now hangs in her bedroom.