Real home: this Victorian home makeover has style and substance

Georgia and Matt’s extended period home shows that design flair and practicality can go hand in hand

Georgia and Matt Blundell's extended Victorian home in Blackheath, London, shows design flair and practicality can go hand in hand
(Image credit: Jemma Watts)

Would you be confident enough to design your own home? Some of us flinch at the idea of going anywhere near a set of floorplans, but for Georgia and her husband Matt, it was an opportunity to mould their house around their family’s needs. ‘Form and function’ is Georgia’s motto, and it shows: her extended home is full of beautiful touches like bespoke joinery and near-frameless glazing, but it’s also practical for young children, as well as for the parties the couple love to throw.

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Georgia and Matt Blundell's extended Victorian home in Blackheath, London, shows design flair and practicality can go hand in hand

‘I haven’t always been a risk taker when it comes to design, and my sister was massively helpful in suggesting ideas,’ Georgia says. ‘Whatever we came up with together, I’d go ahead and deliver.’ Kitchen units, worktops, taps and sinks, Burlanes Interiors (opens in new tab). Moduleo flooring, Kentish Flooring Centre (opens in new tab). Splashback tiles, Tons of Tiles (opens in new tab). Pendant lights, John Lewis & Partners (opens in new tab). Dining table, Made (opens in new tab). Chairs, Graham & Green (opens in new tab). Rooflights, Roofmaker (opens in new tab). Bar stools, Ikea (opens in new tab) hack

(Image credit: Jemma Watts)
Project notes

The owners: Georgia Blundell and her husband, Matt, both chartered surveyors, and their children Orla and Milo
The property: A five-bedroom late Victorian terrace in Blackheath, south-east London
Project cost: £343,000 for the entire house and garden renovation

This house wasn’t always Georgia’s dream home, though: ‘When I first saw the property on paper, I said, “I’m not buying that,” she says. ‘It was split into two flats and the ground floor one was dilapidated. There were even snails on the carpet! The upstairs flat was in a better state, but it had ceramic fuses and exposed pipework.’ More alarmingly, there was a half-metre fall in the floor from front to back from historic bomb damage. ‘My daughter asked why there was a hill in the house!’ Georgia adds. ‘Still, I could see the potential and as we walked around, I started reconfiguring it in my head. We made an offer within an hour.’

Georgia and Matt Blundell's extended Victorian home in Blackheath, London, shows design flair and practicality can go hand in hand

Floor tiles, British House of Ceramic. Walls and panelling painted in Strong White (opens in new tab)and Down Pipe (opens in new tab), Farrow & Ball. Ceiling light, Garden Trading (opens in new tab). Mirror, Graham & Green (opens in new tab). Bench, Ikea (opens in new tab) hack

(Image credit: Jemma Watts)

With so much to do, the renovation was a huge undertaking, but one the couple were willing to take on. ‘It was scary, but we had the opportunity to redesign the house around how we live,’ Georgia says. ‘I mentally unpacked everything we owned and asked myself where it would go, as well as what day-to-day scenarios we needed to accommodate – for example, where the kids would dump their stuff after school.’

Georgia and Matt Blundell's extended Victorian home in Blackheath, London, shows design flair and practicality can go hand in hand

‘The snug is an adults-only area,’ Georgia says. ‘At night, it’s somewhere we can light the fire and have a glass of wine. We might all snuggle up in here and watch a film on a Sunday, but generally it’s our space. After all, the rest of the house was designed around the family.’ Some of the pieces in the room, including the armchair and the console table, were inherited from Georgia’s mum. ‘They make the room really special to me,’ she adds. Moduleo flooring, Kentish Flooring Centre (opens in new tab). Walls painted in Drop Cloth (opens in new tab), Farrow & Ball. Floor lamp, Made (opens in new tab). Woodburning stove, Westcombes Fires (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Jemma Watts)

Keen to extend to create a family kitchen-diner, the couple commissioned two architects to come up with designs. ‘They both failed planning, so we decided to take on the role ourselves,’ says Georgia, who is a chartered surveyor. In fact, she self-designed the entire project, turning challenges into opportunities. ‘A difference in levels between the old dining room and new kitchen meant that to connect the two, the side return wall would need to be 3.8m high – which wouldn’t pass planning,’ she says. ‘Instead, we topped the approved wall with 60cm of glass clerestory. Not only did it solve the connection problem, it created a stunning feature in the dining space.’

Georgia and Matt Blundell's extended Victorian home in Blackheath, London, shows design flair and practicality can go hand in hand

Sofa, HomeSense (opens in new tab). Curtains, Laura Ashley (opens in new tab). Shutters, Hillarys (opens in new tab). Coffee table, Retrouvius (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Jemma Watts)

Planning approved, Georgia found her builders after a long search. ‘Some of them would say, “Ooh, that’ll cost you,” when I told them what I wanted to do, or direct everything at my husband,’ she said. ‘Eventually we met with Faber Developing. They offered solutions and showed so much enthusiasm. We liked them straight away.’

Georgia and Matt Blundell's extended Victorian home in Blackheath, London, shows design flair and practicality can go hand in hand

‘I wanted the garden to feel connected to the house,’ Georgia says. ‘I hate being able to see the furniture from the kitchen – it can be ugly, especially as it’s covered up for half the year – so I created a sunken pit for the table and chairs.’ Sliding doors, Express Bi-folding Doors (opens in new tab). Decking, Benchmark Timber (opens in new tab). Cladding, Marley (opens in new tab). Outdoor kitchen, Faber Developing (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Jemma Watts)

Georgia wanted the kitchen to be the hub of the house. ‘We love entertaining and needed an indoor-outdoor space – it works well with kids running around, too,’ she says. ‘I wanted a functional kitchen, a big table, a cosy seating area to sit and have a coffee, and an outdoor kitchen.’ The garden was landscaped with that in mind. ‘The first decking level is flush with the kitchen, and we chose sliding doors to connect the two. They don’t take up as much space as bi-folds and they act as a smoke screen when we cook outside.’

Georgia and Matt Blundell's extended Victorian home in Blackheath, London, shows design flair and practicality can go hand in hand

‘The panelling in our bedroom was inspired by a picture I saw online,’ Georgia says. ‘I loved the idea of concealed doors, so it hides the entrance to the walk-in wardrobe and the en suite as well as the exit to the landing.’ The bedside tables are an Ikea (opens in new tab) hack and the Hell is other people print was handmade. Walls painted in Mole’s Breath (opens in new tab) and Worsted (opens in new tab), Farrow & Ball. Bed, Feather & Black. Cushions and throw, John Lewis & Partners (opens in new tab). Never grow up print, HomeSense (opens in new tab). Pendant lights, Industville (opens in new tab) 

(Image credit: Jemma Watts)

Having played the design of their old house safe, Georgia wanted to take a bigger risk with her approach to this one. ‘That meant darker colours, more modern glazing – things I’d avoided before,’ she says. The inspiration for her kitchen scheme comes from an unusual source. ‘Living in the Royal Borough of Greenwich with its maritime history, we wanted a sea theme, so I based the colours on a mussel shell. Black, navy blue and pearl tones – it’s the perfect palette. The kitchen designer just said, “I’ve not heard that one before, but I can do it”.’

Georgia and Matt Blundell's extended Victorian home in Blackheath, London, shows design flair and practicality can go hand in hand

Cabinetry, Faber Developing (opens in new tab). Ceiling light, Dowsing & Reynolds (opens in new tab). Ottoman, Feather & Black (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Jemma Watts)

Aesthetics aside, the house had to be functional, too. ‘Practicality is paramount to me,’ Georgia says. ‘We designed the kitchen as a great party space, right down to details like the extra sink, which we can fill with ice to chill wine.’ Instead of real wood, the flooring is vinyl to withstand foot traffic, and the decking outside is thermally-treated softwood. The upstairs den – ‘one of the best ideas we’ve ever had,’ Georgia says – is a multipurpose office/music room/guest bedroom, and the master bedroom has been cleverly designed to hide an en suite and walk-in wardrobe behind concealed panelled doors.

Georgia and Matt Blundell's extended Victorian home in Blackheath, London, shows design flair and practicality can go hand in hand

‘We lost a bedroom when we created the master en suite and wardrobe and we didn’t want to lose another,’ Georgia says. 'So we added a sofa bed to this room and carved out an en suite. It’s great for grandparents who can’t tackle the house’s many steep stairs! Guests love it – we’ll often find them sitting outside on the balcony in the morning with a cup of coffee.’ Joinery, Faber Developing (opens in new tab). Wall painted in Pavilion Gray (opens in new tab), Farrow & Ball. Karndean flooring, Kentish Flooring Centre (opens in new tab). Sofa, John Lewis & Partners (opens in new tab). Pouffe, Ikea (opens in new tab). Grey knit cushions, Dunelm (opens in new tab). Abstract multicolour cushion, Made (opens in new tab). Wall lights, Industville (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Jemma Watts)

Georgia and Matt Blundell's extended Victorian home in Blackheath, London, shows design flair and practicality can go hand in hand

‘We tried to make the kids’ rooms fun,’ says Georgia. ‘When the builders were working on the roof, I asked them to put a bolt in so I could hang the pirate ship hammock in Milo’s room for story time.' Carpet, Kentish Flooring Centre (opens in new tab). Hammock and bunting, Ebay (opens in new tab). Bookshelves and crates, Ikea (opens in new tab) hack


(Image credit: Jemma Watts)
Contacts

Builder and joiner Faber Developing (opens in new tab)
Kitchen design and fit Burlanes Interiors (opens in new tab)
Garden landscaping Bes Landscapes (opens in new tab)
Decorator Alb Decor (opens in new tab)

The house is a testament to Georgia’s determination to come up with ingenious solutions to often difficult problems. When a lighting designer installed 17 spotlights in the living room – ‘I could have performed surgery in there, it was that bright’ – she enrolled on a lighting course, ripped down the ceiling and redesigned the entire scheme. Still, the hard work has paid off. ‘I still walk from room to room and pinch myself,’ Georgia says. ‘It’s tricky to say what my favourite part of it is – but the happiness it brings my family is the best thing of all.

Georgia and Matt Blundell's extended Victorian home in Blackheath, London, shows design flair and practicality can go hand in hand

Floor tiles, bath, and shower, Discount Bathrooms. Metro tiles, Mandarin Stone (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Jemma Watts)

Georgia and Matt Blundell's extended Victorian home in Blackheath, London, shows design flair and practicality can go hand in hand

Wall tiles, Mandarin Stone (opens in new tab). Mirror, John Lewis & Partners (opens in new tab). Sink, Discount Bathrooms. Pendant lights, Industville (opens in new tab). Basket, H&M (opens in new tab). Shower, CP Hart (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Jemma Watts)
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Ellen Finch
Ellen Finch

Joining as features editor in 2017, Ellen now looks after the day-to-day running of Real Homes magazine as deputy editor. She also commissions and writes many of the real case studies you'll see on the site, and loves speaking to people about their homes and get the details on the hacks they've tried and loved. She's currently gearing up to buy a home of her own in 2023 – hopefully with a garden to plant veg and wildflowers – and has a special interest in sustainable living, clever book storage, and cats.

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