Looking to complete a home transformation any time soon? Be inspired by how the owners of this period home created a luxurious, contemporary feel that's child-friendly, too.
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'Using an interior designer pushed my boundaries and made me bolder,’ reveals Jess, who’d taken on the styling herself in previous homes but brought in Nina Maklin through the agency Interior Designers (opens in new tab) to oversee the redesign of her London home. ‘She helped me create a place that’s child friendly yet also luxurious with a bit of drama.’
Jess and Gav lived in nearby Earlsfield for seven years before buying a Victorian terraced house in Clapham in April 2011.
‘Although it had already been extended into the loft, the décor hadn’t been touched in years and there were moths in the carpets,’ says Jess. ‘We spent around £60,000 just to make it liveable – replacing the carpets and bathrooms, as well as replastering and redecorating. However, we only painted the kitchen walls and cabinets as we planned to extend.’
The owners: Jess Reoch, a HR director at a bank, her husband Gav, a stay-at-home dad and writer, and their son Louie, two
The property: A three-storey, five-bedroom Victorian house in Clapham, London
Total project cost: £225,500
In 2013, the couple temporarily relocated to New York for Jess’s job, so rented out their home for almost three years.
Keen to get the new addition built before they came back to the UK in 2016, they contacted the Royal Institute of British Architects and started talking to members the year before they returned. ‘We decided to stop renting out the house and give ourselves six months to transform it,’ says Jess.
The couple chose architects HollandGreen Architecture and Interiors who drew up plans to extend into the side return and rear garden to create a bigger kitchen-diner/family room with a glazed sloping roof and sliding doors.
‘I needed to hire an interior designer, too, as, with a new baby and a busy job, there wasn’t time to pull everything together myself,’ Jess explains. ‘Nina just instantly got my style. I trusted her to create an entertaining space with wow factor that didn’t make people feel uncomfortable.’
With Jess in New York, planning was done via Skype with the odd face-to-face meeting when she visited the UK. ‘I once met with Nina at the airport between flights,’ she says. ‘And my brother brought decorating samples when he came to visit us.’
Nina’s aim was to create clear, separate areas for every aspect of Jess and Gav’s life, including adult zones like the library and master bedroom, a snug/TV room for movie nights, and a kitchen-diner which would be the main family area.
‘Too many people are afraid to have a luxurious home for fear of their children destroying it, but choosing the right materials can solve this issue,’ explains Nina. ‘ For example, using wipeable velvet on the dining chairs, which even tomato sauce can’t destroy, or fabrics with a slight pattern so you can’t see the dirt. We put inexpensive rugs in areas prone to mess, as well as using dark paint that hides sticky fingers but still provides that glamorous feel.’
In the kitchen, everything’s hidden away behind floor-to-ceiling cabinets along one wall. ‘It looks more like furniture than a typical kitchen as it has floating units on one side and a dining area that extends from the island,’ says Jess.
‘I wanted a concrete floor but Nina suggested MicroCrete which has added polymers, so it’s very durable, slip resistant and less prone to cracking. She also matched the patio tiles and kitchen floor for a seamless flow between the spaces.’
Building and refurbishment work £150,000
MicroCrete flooring £8,500
Although most of the budget was spent on the ground floor, upstairs Nina changed the flooring to match the rest of the house, added storage and helped Jess redesign the bedrooms.
‘I wanted a hotel-luxe look in the master bedroom and a New York theme in Louie’s room since he was born there,’ says Jess. ‘Nina also sourced some amazing hexagonal tiles for the first-floor bathroom, and beautiful fabrics which I got made into curtains and blinds by Nicola Hayes.’
Lighting designer Aimee Penny from Q Lighting planned a scheme which included large statement pieces to suit the high ceilings and spotlights with brass inside for the bedrooms and bathrooms.
Despite the upheaval and the challenges of staying in the loop while abroad, the couple are delighted with the new space. ‘We’ve probably spent twice as much as I’d planned,’ admits Jess. ‘But it’s more than paid for itself and I can imagine us staying here long term now.’
Bespoke joinery Vialle & Co (opens in new tab)
Lighting design Q Lighting (opens in new tab)