Houzz Tour: A Faded Home Gains Light, Flow and Historical Details
Moving the staircase in this Victorian home unlocked an improved layout as well as adding locally inspired character
As part of a full renovation, the house got a rear extension and a new light-flooded double-height room, a loft conversion and an enhanced sense of connection between the spaces. Throughout, pale oiled ash joinery is punctuated by black metal detailing that references nearby St Pancras station. In terms of sustainability, the house was fully insulated internally, with upgraded glazing and an insulating, wildlife-friendly green roof on the new extension.
Who lives here? A single professional man
Location King’s Cross, north London
Property An early Victorian terrace in a conservation area
Size Three bedrooms and three bathrooms
Architect and interior designer Lizzie Fraher of Fraher & Findlay
Garden design Urban Roots Landscapes
Photos by Adam Scott Images
Your first thought might not be that the unusual shape of Lizzie’s rear extension design was down to planning restrictions, because it looks so beautiful. But it was. “We wanted to extend in order to increase the kitchen space at this lower ground floor level,” she says, “but planning made us fold back the design so it didn’t impose on the neighbours’ extension.”
The result is a strikingly angled addition with a huge, pivoting door. The geometry leads the eye towards the beds beyond, boosting the sense of space inside.
The space also has a Corten steel water feature at the back.
Rusted steel panel, Paneltech Systems.
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The refurbishment also included a mansard loft conversion – unusual for a conservation area. “We got it,” she says, “because we made a joint application with the neighbours,” arguing the design would re-establish a consistent roofline across the back of the houses.
Pivot door, Meronden Designs.
The space is carefully designed to be purposeful, with everything bespoke. “Because nothing is challenging the space, it feels bigger,” Lizzie says. Joinery in oiled ash adds warmth while keeping the aesthetic pale and airy.
Bespoke dining table and chairs, Shape London. Walls painted in Joanna, Little Greene.
Head sculptures by Genc Mulliqi, Galeria Kalo. Banquette fabric, Élitis. Kitchen lighting, Fritz Hansen.
The floor is polished concrete, while brass pendants inject warmth.
Bespoke kitchen, Shape London. Range cooker, Smeg. Marble worktops and splashback, Surrey Marble & Granite.
“This is something to be mindful of,” Lizzie says. “It’s one of the benefits of working with an architect, who’s trained to design buildings that sit well within their environments, assessing their orientation and surroundings, as well as their potential for solar gain and overheating. It’s also about harnessing that power [of the sun] to make the building as passive as possible.”
Also visible from this angle is the double height of the space. The next floor starts just behind the shelves on the left and the visible part here is a study.
The room features more bespoke joinery to maximise the space. “We took an original tongue-and-groove – a very Victorian detail – but made it contemporary, particularly with the oak-lined recessed handles.”
Walls painted in Joanna, Little Greene.
Originally, as is traditional in a house of this era, the staircase hugged the hallway wall and ran front to back. The result of the traditional orientation is that you get one big room at the front and a small room behind. Lizzie’s new staircase runs across the house and is bang in the middle of it, which creates more evenly sized rooms.
The powder-coated steel balustrade, stretching from floor to ceiling, references the area’s early Victorian industrial buildings and nearby St Pancras railway station. The design also allows light to flow through the structure.
The glass door on the left leads to a newly created lobby and the front door.
The connection with the garden starts here. “A direct view to the garden was important,” Lizzie says. “We always try to do that.”
Exterior wall painted in Book Room Green, Little Greene.
There were no period features remaining in the property when Lizzie came in to redesign it. As such, she opted to create a sleek new contemporary concrete fireplace in the location of the original one.
Vintage Scandinavian armchair, Forest London. Wooden floors, Haywood. Fireplace, Grate Expectations.
The dado and panelling across the spaces echo the original Victorian style, but, with a contemporary bead, are a deliberately modern take on the idea.
The low steps on the left lead up to the study, which looks out over the kitchen and dining room below.
Upper walls painted in Joanna; lower walls painted in Slaked Lime, both Little Greene.
It also has a Juliet balcony overlooking the dining room below.
Bespoke desk, Shape London.
Lizzie’s design cleverly maximises the space. This bedroom has an en suite shower room behind a sliding pocket door. On the other side she fitted a wardrobe.
Bathroom tiles, Mosa Tiles. Bespoke butterfly bookshelves, Shape London.
Joinery, Shape London.
An orange stool references the upholstery downstairs.
What’s your favourite detail in Lizzie’s contemporary update of this period house? Let us know in the Comments.