Houzz Tour: A Clever Restoration Rescues a Georgian House
Updated period features and inventive ways to circulate light have brought this neglected building back to life
As with a large percentage of CATO’s projects, the homeowners had come to him via Houzz Pro. Browsing photos on the company’s Houzz profile, the couple had spotted just what they were looking for. “They really liked our use of structural glazing and light,” Mark says.
Two years and a couple of lockdowns later, the resulting family home is a triumph, with oak parquet flooring, decorative iron banisters and crisp mouldings beautifully reintroduced in an understated way, daylight flowing freely through the house, and modern luxuries, such as an extensive sound system, woven subtly into the elegant design.
To see more great projects where the homeowner found their professional via Houzz, take a look at our Born on Houzz series.
Who lives here? A family of five
Location Kensington, west London
Property A Georgian terrace with four floors plus a loft conversion
Size Seven bedrooms and five bathrooms
Designer Mark Barratt of CATO Creative
Builders Progressive Design
Project year The whole process took from June 2020 to May 2022, with breaks for lockdown
Photos by Chris Snook
Mark’s brief was to boost light and bring the building up to date while respecting its heritage. “The house was gloomy,” he recalls, “and because they were extending at the back, that can take away light from the middle of the house.”
It didn’t help that it had been sitting empty for two or three years. “There were three issues with it,” Mark says. “It hadn’t been looked after for about 30 years and was in a state of decay; damp had set in, and a developer had done a bit of work [at some stage], but it was unsafe, with steels that weren’t level. However, it was an amazing building and the proportions were unreal.”
At the entrance, the team fitted glazed steel doors to create a vestibule without blocking light. “The Georgian style tended to have lots of panes, so this is a modern twist on what you might have found originally. The metal profile is a lot slimmer than timber, so it feels light,” Mark says.
On the right of the vestibule as you walk in, there’s roomy storage for outerwear.
The team drew lots of references from traditional elements, the banisters being a case in point. “There’s a profile that was used in a lot of Georgian properties in west London that had this look to it,” Mark says. “We just took the core element to create something representative of what would have been there, but more modern.”
Watch now: Step inside this updated London home on Houzz TV
As well as boosting the light, the internal glazing aids a sense of connection. “We often use glazing to create separate spaces that still have an open-plan feel, which these owners really liked,” Mark says.
The floor tiles in the hallway are a good illustration of nodding to the past while keeping the look modern. “These tiles are used widely to create the classic checkerboard pattern,” Mark says. “We’ve designed a more contemporary look using that traditional material.”
Under the stairs, there’s lots of storage for “small child paraphernalia”, plus a cloakroom at the far end. The panelling beside the oak staircase was created by the team using simple wooden beading.
Floor tiles, Winckelmans at Old English Tiles.
The little table is the perfect spot for a quick breakfast, but there’s room for the family to have a larger table here if they prefer.
“We work with small, local cabinet-makers,” he says. “We’ve established relationships, so we get a good product and service from them.”
The worktops and splashback are marble-effect Silestone. This photo was taken before the tap and handles were fitted.
Kitchen doors, Concept Linea; painted in Slate III, Paint & Paper Library.
More: How to Choose a Cabinet-maker
The team fitted a pocket door between the kitchen and hallway. “We needed a door for Building Regulations,” Mark says, “but we wanted the height and didn’t think a 3.2m hinged one would look right or have space to open properly, and the view when you come in through to the back is so incredible, we wanted to keep that clear.”
Induction hob with downdraft extractor, Siemens. Engineered oak flooring, Oak Artisans.
The team fitted underfloor heating on this floor, the upper ground floor and the first floor, with radiators on the top two floors.
A screen creates a broken-plan space without blocking the long view. It contains a mix of plain and reeded panes. “We wanted it mainly transparent, so you have that view, but also to have a bit of interesting detail,” Mark says.
Sofas and chairs, Camerich.
The frames are timber rather than metal. “It’s lighter and easier to work with, plus we didn’t want to end up with too much metal in the space,” Mark says.
He fitted triple glazing, but within a traditional sash frame. “When updating, you can end up with something so modern, it doesn’t really translate back to the original building,” he says. “It’s a beautiful building, but if the cornicing, panelling and sash windows weren’t there, it could be quite boring.”
The wardrobes fit in seamlessly. “We don’t take wardrobes up to ceiling level, as they can feel quite overpowering, but we’ve fitted bulkheads over the top,” Mark says.
Wardrobes painted in Mr Clifton, Coat Paints.
More: 19 Bathrooms Where Tadelakt Has Been Used Beautifully
The large-format porcelain floor tiles in the bath area change to a herringbone pattern in the shower. “It delineates the two spaces and also links back to the traditional,” he says.
The first floor banister is a simple metal one, changing to white wood up to the second, children’s floor. “The original plan was to keep the same banister [as in the hallway] running all the way up, but it proved to be very expensive, so we changed it,” Mark says.
The white timber design, which runs right up to the loft, echoes the screen in the kitchen. “We wanted something a bit more playful,” he says.
The owners are over the moon with the finished house. “It was an exciting project and the clients were great, as they were very much open to pushing the design,” Mark says. It’s clear their willingness to trust him has very much paid off.
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