Davina Fox-Hill and Clive Bayley’s house is on one of the busiest streets in Clapham, but is well concealed. Access is down a narrow alley, barely wide enough for a car, and the main entrance is more ‘understated industrial’ in style than ‘grand family home’, but on the other side of the front door is a double-height space featuring mellow bricks, steel girders, a glass roof lantern and old wooden flooring.
Once a laundry, and later a studio, this space is now an all-purpose family room, complete with bar-style kitchen, piano, dining table and sofas.
The main house beyond is a four-storey Georgian property with three living rooms, three bedrooms, family bathroom and en suite, all displaying original features. ‘I call it our Marmite house,’ says Davina. ‘People either love or hate it!’
- The owners: Davina Fox-Hill, who runs an interiors shop and a renovation and holiday rental company, and her partner, Clive Bailey, CEO of retailer Fonehouse and a musician, live here with Davina’s son Zachery, 13, and Clive’s son Luka, 12
- The property: A three-bedroom, four-storey Georgian house with a ground-floor edwardian extension
- The location: Clapham, south-west London
- What they spent: The couple bought the property for £1.1 million in 2012 have spent around £119,000 on renovation work. It has recently been valued at around £1.9 million
Redesigning the layout
Davina and Clive loved the house at first sight – despite it being dark and dated, with a confusing layout of small rooms. ‘We were looking for a home with loads of character and enough space for Clive’s grand piano,’ says Davina. ‘After a long, fruitless search, I went on to a unique properties website and discovered this place. It’s tucked at the end of a very quiet, narrow alleyway, yet it’s really close to a main road and all the shops. The way that the rooms were used was pretty awful, but the space was fantastic, so I knew that we could redesign the house and turn it into something amazing.’
The kitchen was in what is now the en suite bathroom, there was a shower in a cupboard, plus five small bedrooms. The large Edwardian studio space was cold, empty and draughty, and many of the original features seemed lost in the maze of small living areas.
Redecorating the space
‘To me, it was obvious how the layout needed to work,’ says Davina. ‘Everything seemed back to front, with key rooms squeezed into the smallest spaces. The whole place needed decorating, too – it was so disjointed. The main bedroom was completely different from the way it is now. It was decorated red, with blue window frames and a yellow ceiling, and had a dated red-brick fireplace. This was one of the first things we took out and changed by installing a reclaimed fire surround, which I then painted.’
Fortunately, Davina loved the wooden floors, many of which had been covered with old carpet, and, in keeping with the building’s history, she had shutters made for the Georgian windows to replace Venetian blinds. ‘I love the shutters. I wanted them to be solid wood to reflect the style of the Georgian period and they really finish off the rooms,’ says Davina. ‘Sometimes the smallest changes can make the biggest difference.’
Furnishing the house wasn’t difficult. Davina and Clive had brought furniture with them from three apartments, so there was a random mix. They discarded half of it and kept anything they felt would work in the unusual spaces. The rest was bought online or through Davina’s shop, Zachary Valentine. The most challenging aspect was carrying some of the larger, heavier pieces up and down the narrow stairs, including replacement cast-iron radiators and the roll-top bath for the en suite.
‘The furniture is a mish-mash,’ explains Davina. ‘We’ve had pieces made to fit the scale of the rooms; small furniture would look out of proportion. I love the mix of industrial and glamour, rather than a downbeat industrial look or that idea of combining old and new. It’s atmospheric, but it doesn’t have a pretty, glossy finish. It’s drawing on the sense of the building and working with it, rather than just putting in furniture for the sake of it.’
Gaining curb appeal
The transformation of the property – which took nine months – was completed when the builder repointed the Georgian front of the house, and the old gates at the back were clad in aluminium to give the main entrance a stylish, modern look. ‘We love the fact that no one notices the house from the road,’ says Davina, ‘and people are so surprised when they step through the front door and see what lies within.’
|Kitchen, including appliances||£30,000|
|Decorating and finishings||£12,000|