A Charming Renovation; A sympathetic extension transforms a neglected Victorian house into the perfect family home

Victorian-era property

Sometimes it really does pay to be patient, as Jenny and Roger Wade will testify. When they found their perfect family home – a Victorian-era property, with a pretty front and back garden, in a coastal location – they quickly offered the asking price, which was accepted. But at the last minute the owners changed their minds about selling because they couldn’t find a new home for themselves. The Wades knew the house was too good to pass up, so they offered to wait until the owners found another property. Finally, many months later Jenny and Roger, with their two young children, Tess and Louie, were able to move into their dream home. “We really love the house so it was worth the wait,” Jenny says.

Families looks for a perfect home

Families looks for a perfect home

Patience still proved a virtue, because once the family was settled, there was another, even longer wait – three years – before any changes were made. “We wanted to live in the house for a while and see how it would work best for us,” Jenny explains. “We spent a lot of time planning what to do, taking into consideration the light and the way we used the space.” Jenny created moodboards, featuring inspirational images from magazines, sketches, fabrics and colours. “I love texture and colour – and the palette we used throughout the house was inspired by the soft greys of the sea and the sky,” she says.

Structure of the house

Although the interior was in good condition, the rooms were fairly small, and the kitchen, in particular, was narrow and cramped. Many discussions later, the couple employed an architect, who helped them interpret their ideas and come up with a practical space.

Two back rooms were opened up and an extension added to create one large living, dining and kitchen area, with a light, spacious and contemporary feel. The couple were careful, however, to retain the Victorian details throughout the rest of the home. “We echoed the vaulted ceiling of the original kitchen on to the extension, giving a symmetrical feel to the back of the house,” Jenny says. Doors between the front and back rooms were also removed to create a large living room on one side and a spacious formal dining area on the other.

Skylights and furnishing the space

To maximise light in the house, skylights were installed and bifold doors, which open out to the garden, were inserted along the back wall. These connect the inside to the out, the sense of flow enhanced by extending the use of the large ceramic kitchen tiles into the garden. Elsewhere on the ground floor are dark oak floorboards, which provide a striking contrast to the pale walls. Upstairs, cosy carpet warms the feet on winter days. Attractive shutters were installed on all the windows, which allows for the control of light and privacy. They also give the front of the house a New England look, which Jenny loves.

The finishing touch was to furnish the space. “We didn’t have much furniture, only a few pieces that Roger had inherited, but we picked up lots of interesting items in local antique shops and at markets,” Jenny says. She has combined these with new pieces to give the place “soul”. After the long wait, and much thought, the Wades’ plans for their home have been realised. It goes to show that patience really does pay off.