If you’re renovating a period property like a Victorian or Edwardian home, you’re probably struggling to find the balance between creating a modern, practical family home and preserving all of those wonderful period features. It can be difficult to know how to design a space that suits your tastes and the era of the house. If this sounds like you, fear not: we have a home tour that will inspire you to make a statement and bring your old home to life.
Aysha Rahman and her husband, Ali, wanted to do something different when it came to extending their home – a magnificent Edwardian build. After living there for 13 years, focusing on upgrading the home for themselves and their three children, they wanted to make bigger changes. “The kitchen was in a kitchen layout, with steps leading up to a morning room,” Aysha explains. “The space was really awkward and cold. We lived with it for a while, but we’re a big family and when we’re all together everyone wants to hang out in the kitchen. We wanted a space where we could all socialize together.
The couple worked with James of architectural design and renovation firm Model Projects to bring their ambitious plan for a new sociable space to life. Read on to find out the top five things we learned from them to ensure home renovation success.
1. Big plans come with trade-offs
The owners Aysha Rahman, a full-time mum (@aysha_interiors), her husband, Ali, vice president of an IT company, and their children Taseen, Ilyas and Zahir
The property A three-bed Victorian terrace in North London
Project cost £150,000
Top of the wish list for Aysha and Ali was height and lots of glazing, as well as practical additions like a utility and dining area towards the middle of the house. However, it took a few tries before arriving at this design, partly due to planning issues.
“We wanted to have the angled extension, but the board wanted something more traditional,” says Aysha. “We also had to be careful of neighbors because that could affect planning as well. We ended up designing an L-shaped addition to make sure it didn’t go all the way to the neighboring wall, rather than square the whole space. We lost some space, but it actually defines the areas of the room much better this way.
2. Living can be relatively painless
Thanks to great builders, Aysha and Ali found life during construction relatively drama-free. “We didn’t have the budget to move and rent – and we’d rather put the money in the house anyway,” says Aysha. “As a terrace with no side access it could have been a nightmare, but the builders boarded the stairs and gave us a new front door so we could live above the mess.”
The builders even installed a dishwasher in the bathroom. “They made us feel comfortable,” adds Aysha. “Everything went smoothly, even though the project took longer than expected – 10 months instead of the original five or six.”
3. Keep a constant eye on your wishlist
The design of the house evolved as Aysha saw new things she liked, but a certain theme was always at the forefront of her mind. “I love the Parisian vibe – the interior gardens, the black steel balconies,” she says. “We didn’t want bifold doors, as we were looking for impact with full-height glazing. Came across Fabco Sanctuary and loved the Crittal style doors – these are French doors on a more modern scale. The doors were one of the most expensive parts of the build, but they have such an impact on the space.
For the kitchen, the couple opted for a Shaker style to complement the era of the property. “It adds character and provides a nice contrast to the industrial doors,” says Aysha. “I didn’t want the style to be overwhelming, so I kept the elements neutral so they almost disappeared into the wall. The island is blue for contrast – it’s the most dominant part of the space.
4. Learn from the mistakes of others
Aysha had seen other renovations down the road and noticed that the front of the house rarely flowed with the back – a design mistake she was keen to avoid. “There had to be continuity back and forth,” she says. “I was following someone on Instagram who had French Crittal style doors in their living room, and that gave me the idea.”
The couple originally planned to install double doors in the living room, but instead opted to replace the entire wall between it and the hallway with glass to maximize light and create a connection to the back. “We checked that everything would be structurally sound, and then we took the plunge,” adds Aysha. “When the doors are closed, they block out more sound than you might think, so it feels like a private space, but it’s still visually connected.”
5. Small tweaks make a huge difference
While the kitchen was the couple’s biggest project, the rest of the house was transformed in small steps. The hallway gained an extra square meter during the renovation, so the couple had to source salvaged tiles to match the originals. A utility room next to the kitchen is separated from the main space by a clever pocket door, which lets light into an otherwise dark pocket of the house.
The family bathroom, previously comprised of two spaces with a separate toilet from the sink and bath, has been merged into one, with a double sink, contemporary freestanding bath and walk-in shower adding a luxurious feel. The master bedroom features soft, earthy colors – although it is “not finished at all”, Aysha is keen to add.
After a lackluster Christmas last year, Aysha is looking forward to a proper welcome this time around. “We had a pre-lockdown family party last year, but I’m looking forward to lots of Christmas dinners,” she says. “We open all the doors and the whole space on the ground floor becomes one. It makes a huge difference to the way we live now.