Refurbishing Your Home


Can a Victorian home suit modern living? Many of us are living in bricks and mortar designed well over 100 years ago. Can it still work for families living in the here and now? Here are five distinct layouts that could work for your family.

Words: Naomi Jones – Images Clara Bee.

2The majority of housing stock in Nappy Valley is Victorian, homes built between 1837 and 1901. They are well-built and full of character but aren’t equipped for the demands of modern family, so it’s inevitable that some modifications are required to make your hundred year old-plus home work for the 21st century.

The original layout of a Victorian house is two reception rooms with a small “closed-plan” kitchen beyond. It’s hard to think of a layout less suited to current lifestyles, so many want to do some sort of extension, be it lengthening to a long galley or a side return.

1A side passage project is generally covered under permitted development so should require no planning permission, but as with almost all building works, you will need to submit plans (best drawn up by an architect), and have regular checks by your local council’s building inspector to ensure it complies with building regulations for correct foundations, levels of insulation, and so on, at the various stages of work. Most good builders can handle this small-scale project without the on-going help of an architect, but as the home owner, it is ultimately your responsibility to ensure you have the correct sign-offs. Visit planningportal. for more information on building regulations and planning permissions.

As you’re going to all the trouble and expense of extending, it might be worth considering going that bit further. Larger extensions may require planning permission, and of course cost significantly more if you are knocking down walls and reinforcing with steels, but the end result can transform your living space.

Some warnings to heed. Think very carefully about just how open-plan you want your space. Can you stand the sounds and smells of your other half cooking while you watch TV? Do you want your children playing in the same space as you, or would you prefer them tucked away in a separate play area? If you have older children, do they need a chill-out space downstairs? Do you really need a formal dining room for entertaining, or would you prefer the more relaxed atmosphere of eating in the kitchen? Sometimes the entire ground floor of a Victorian home is converted into one room. This can work well when you have very small toddlers who go to bed at 7pm but is a totally different proposition with noisy teenagers!

Robert Wilson, Architect Director at Granit Chartered Architects, says, “There are lots of permutations, but we generally advise clients to retain some of the original walls for structural integrity and to keep some of the character that they fell in love with.”


Tip from Instagrammer lisa_loves_vintage

“My home works best with its original two reception room layout. I know so many families love open-plan living but having defined rooms means we have separate spaces to escape to, especially important as the children reach their teens.”


Even if you have a clear vision for your home, a good interior designer can help you bring it to life, taking into consideration all the smallest details to realise the full potential of the space.

A designer’s expertise can:

  • Help you save time and money, especially if engaged at the start of a project and, importantly, will help you stay on budget
  • Take the pain out of all the sourcing and bring the products directly to you, cutting out endless hours of searching and visiting showrooms
  • Help you work out your likes and dislikes
  • Guide you in the management of the project without taking over, or take on the management if required
  • Help you understand what can be achieved in your particular space by reorganising and enhancing the layout according to your lifestyle
Source: Trinity Interior Design

SOLUTION 1: Three living areas

A wrap-around (side and rear) extension to create a large room dedicated to cooking and eating, while retaining the two original reception rooms. This is a good option for people who want to keep as much of the original character as possible. The front sitting room could be grown-up space and the smaller room (the original dining room) could become a playroom; it also works well with teenagers who might want a bit of privacy downstairs.

Claire Burrage, Creative Director at Clara Bee, says: “Making the inner zone of the reception room into a playroom for young children, which is easily accessible yet can be closed off with internal bi-folding doors, gives flexible and multi-functional use for a growing family.”

Hyde Farm, SW12: Extend the kitchen to create a kitchen/diner; renovate the existing rooms; create downstairs WC and utility room;

provide clever storage solutions – all easily accessed from the hallway.

Design features: “We created pocket doors (recessed into existing wall space) and banquette seating,” explains Claire Burrage. “They give the impression of space and allow unrestricted flow around the area. The use of skylights rather than Veluxes maximises the natural light feed. Concealed LED spots combined with pendants, under and over kitchen unit lighting, and industrial lighting made a detailed scheme for different moods and functions.”

Kitchen style: Unframed shaker style with tongue and groove end panels, painted a striking deep blue.

Distinctive materials: Wooden sitting room flooring, reclaimed brick wall in extension, poured concrete kitchen flooring, granite worktops, metallic elements (exposed RSJs, fridge and range cooker), and leather banquette seating.

Read more…

Latest From Instagram