With a Georgian heart, Victorian additions and a brand new extension, this house could have been a fright. But careful planning and clever design have brought the whole thing together beautifully
You can just imagine the estate agents’ description: “Splendid Victorian villa with original features , set in extensive wooded grounds with countryside views. Fabulous family home.” It was certainly enough to persuade Lisa Cambridge and her husband to take a look. The sales blurb, they discovered, was all true, but it only told half the story. “It was 2010 and we were living in London at the time,” says Lisa. “The garden of our rented house was the size of a postage stamp, and we were desperate to give our two growing kids more space to run around outside.”
The first viewing made a very positive impression: “I fell in love with it straight away. It is a very lateral house, which was really attractive after living in a narrow, three-storey terrace. The high ceilings, the beautifully proportioned rooms and the sense of space and light were amazing.
“The owners showed us around and we were there for probably two hours chatting to them about the house. They told us that they’d lived there for 45 years, having bought it when their children were a similar age to our own. It all just felt right.”
Although Lisa was captivated by the place, she could see there was huge amount of work to do. The owners had shown her an old photograph of the back of the house, before a rather ugly 1960s extension had been added. “I knew I wanted to try to put it back to the way it looked all those years ago, but with a modern approach that would suit our lifestyle. It was really exciting to find a place like this that we could restore and keep traditional at the same time as creating the ultimate modern living space.”
She certainly wasn’t the first person to see an opportunity to shape this house to her own desires. Originally built in the 18th century as a fairly modest two-storey dwelling, it was ‘gentrified’ in the late-19th century by its Victorian owners, who extended the façade to form a substantial villa-type front elevation. It was further enlarged to the rear with a pair of gables, which were replaced during the 1960s with a flat-roofed extension. The result of all this interference wasn’t just a mishmash of architectural styles but also a warren of rooms with no flow and little connection to one other.
The house had a number of other, rather more pressing problems. The interior hadn’t been updated for nearly fifty years, and the heating and the electrics were badly in need of an overhaul. Some of the window frames were 150 years old and had started to rot away. Likewise, some of the floorboards were rotten and needed to be replaced. The plasterwork was crumbling and some of the original features, such as fireplaces and cornices, were missing. It would be a pretty major job to bring the house back to life.
This is just a taster, you can browse the full article with more stunning photography on pages 178-191, issue 96.