Houzz Tour: An Edwardian House With a Tricky Layout Gains Flow
A home with a multi-level living space that wasn’t working gets a clever rejig, a new loft – and an improved view
The property is built into a steep hillside and, as a result, has lots of split levels. This made the original lower levels tricky to lay out successfully, and a big part of Lu’s brief was to rearrange these to maximise light, views and circulation.
Who lives here? A family with three daughters aged between 9 and 15
Location Muswell Hill, north London
Property A semi-detached, double-fronted Edwardian house
Size Five bedrooms and five bathrooms
Architect Lu Bai of Matthew Giles Architects
Project year 2022
Photos by French & Tye
The house was not extended downstairs; rather, Lu substantially reconfigured what was already there. The kitchen is on the same level as the front door; a lower level within this newly open-plan space is perfect for entertaining.
“We kept the existing rear wall of the house, but completely rebuilt the extension, which was already there,” Lu explains. “We also changed the glazing to make more sense of the spaces within and to boost the light.”
Lu also converted the loft, now the main bedroom and en suite, and dug into an existing storage room to create liveable basement rooms. The whole project took a fabric-first approach to improving energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions, including energy-efficient glazing, heating and ventilation, low flow-rate taps and shower heads, and minimal impact to the soft landscaping in the garden to maintain rainwater absorption, plus new landscaping with native vegetation.
“The worktop colours were the owner’s idea,” Lu says. “She wanted a lot of earth tones in the house, so there are terracottas, greens and no stark whites.
“Because we had to work with the existing walls, there was a lot of boxing-in to conceal columns and nibs, plus added insulation,” Lu explains of the wall above the sink. To avoid lots of ‘ins and outs’, she brought the whole wall out. Then, to take advantage of the new, much thicker surface, she created this distinctive, curved niche to avoid wasting the available space.
“We love arches,” she says. “It’s also a nod to the Edwardian features, as houses of this period tended to include rounded, decorative corners.”
Walls painted in Stone ll, Paint & Paper Library. Terrazzo worktop, Diespeker & Co. Terrazzo floor tiles, Otto Tiles. Gold pendant lights, H&M Home. Wall and dining room lights, Swivel UK.
Kitchen, Union Bespoke.
The exposed original brickwork is a nice visual contrast when the door is open.
“They wanted as many windows as possible, but we didn’t want to give them a glass box on the back of their house,” she says. To minimise overheating further, the new glazing has a solar coating. “We also always try to make sure all rooms are cross-ventilated,” she says.
The owners, who have Italian and Cypriot roots, entertain a lot and come from big families, restaurateurs on one side. So in the key job of reconfiguring the living areas, Lu created space for them to move furniture and host up to 40 guests for meals.
More: Should I Live On-site During My Kitchen Renovation?
She incorporated a drinks kitchen and bar on this level. The wall cabinet is a midcentury vintage piece chosen by the owners; the worktop is brass.
Pendant light, vintage.
Lu also designed a loft space for the family with sliding windows.
Sandstone on steps, London Stone.
The windows are anodized aluminium and the railings have been powder-coated to complement the windows.
The fireplace surround was replaced by a terrazzo design sourced by the owner and the cornicing was repaired.
Oak joinery, Union Bespoke. Vintage Oak parquet flooring (here and throughout the house), Broadleaf Timber.
The door to the new living/entertainment room is on the left, just before the red arch. On the right of the hallway is a door into another front room, now a study.
The glazed doors ahead have replaced the original wall Lu removed that blocked the view. Previously, to get into the old kitchen, you had to walk through what is now coat storage in the red arch area, through a living room and then go down some stairs (the ones Lu moved).
There’s another arched feature visible from here that Lu added: a high window in the location of what used to be a bedroom and a bathroom. “Instead, we created this double-height space, because the house was big enough to take it,” she says.
White zellige wall tiles, Planet Tiles.
The owners were really happy with the transformation, leaving this glowing review on Houzz: “Matt and Lu worked on our full house redevelopment and we could not be happier with the final result. They have such a great energy and are genuinely great to work with.
“They took our traditional Edwardian home and, while being sympathetic to its history, transformed it into something that is both original and breathtaking in its design,” the review continued. “I love retaining original features, but I also believe that buildings need to move forward and adapt to withstand the test of time. Matt and Lu managed to do this while always keeping an eye to how it would stay in keeping with its environment. I can highly recommend working with them.” And in fact, since signing up to be part of Houzz Pro, Lu says 30% to 40% of their enquiries now come directly through Houzz.
Have you found a pro for your project through Houzz? Let us know in the Comments – and share your thoughts on this beautiful renovation.