If you live in one of London’s many traditional Victorian terraces – or indeed similar homes right across the country – you’ll know these handsome old houses each have their own unique charm. Feature bay windows, high ceilings and classic proportions are all period elements to savour. But the downside is these houses can be a little dark – and rarely come with a kitchen designed for 21st century living. We were involved with the dramatic reconfiguration of one of these houses in Islington, where the old house has been transformed into a space flooded with light and fit for modern family life. The house is full of clever ideas to steal to maximise light in your own home. Want to take a tour…?
1 Kitchen expansion
The most dramatic change was to extend the small kitchen to fill the full width of the house, creating both a function cooking and dining space but also an equally useful patio area. Full-height glass doors let light pour in, and clever details blur the boundary between indoors and out – the polished concrete floor runs seamlessly between the two, and the kitchen worktop evens appears to continue outside!
2 Cool reflective materials
Inside the kitchen additional light comes from a large skylight, which is then amplified by a reflective back panel for lighting above the island unit. The units themselves are painted a pale matte grey, cleverly keeping things light while adding an element of warmth. And even the glass splashback was chosen for its reflective properties.
3 Furniture that flows
The living room and dining room have been opened up, letting light flow right through the house from the generous bay window. To help this feel, furniture has been carefully chosen and positioned so as not to block light or movement. The old dining room becomes a TV snug, with a long, low sofa emphasising the direction of flow in the room. The walls are kept pure white, and the floor is a pale wood contemporary parquet.
4 Clear out fussy fabrics
Instead of blocking any precious light from the bay window with heavy curtains, the owners installed our plantation shutters in white. The clean lines of the shutters emphasise the height and handsome bones of the room, without blocking out any natural light when open. They also have the benefit of screening the homeowners from the street outside as the slats can be angled for perfect privacy.
5 Streamline the bathroom
Victorian homes don’t tend to be celebrated for their bathrooms either, so this renovation replaced the old bathroom with a sleek, clean-lined shower room. Without a high ceiling here the light is maximised with the gorgeous frameless shower enclosure that almost disappears when not in use. Large floor tiles deceive the eye into thinking the floor space is larger, and clutter is hidden away in glass-fronted recessed cabinets. The finishing touch – a set of crisp white waterproof shutters – moisture resistant and as simply stylish as the rest of the space.
Images by Jim Stephenson