Restoring the Edwardian elegance of a run-down rental
Jenny and Jason Lee’s Edwardian terrace renovation transformed an unloved rental property into a stylish family home
When Jenny, a charity volunteer, and her husband Jason, a sales director, needed to move from Essex to west London for work, they wanted a house they could really make their mark on. A three-bedroom, three-storey Edwardian terraced property with bags of potential caught their eye.
A rare find
‘It was in a really bad condition, but there was a large loft space that had never been converted, plus room to extend the kitchen and put in a garden office, which would mean we could have exactly what we wanted,’ recalls Jenny of her Edwardian terrace renovation. ‘It’s rare these days to find a property that’s quite so untouched, as usually they’ve been snapped up by builders.’
After securing the house, the couple set about finding both a designer and a builder to help them realise their plans, and were lucky enough to discover a husband-and-wife team, who were recommended by their estate agents.
‘Dagmara is an interior designer and project manager with her own business, Hexadot Designs, and her husband Artan runs his own building company, Artan Lenja,’ Jenny explains. ‘Although they each run separate businesses, they work really well together, and between them they could tell us what was possible and then make it a reality.’
Extending up and out
‘We’d already decided that we would go up into the loft and make that our space with a bedroom and en suite, and leave the first floor to our sons, Mark and Michael. We also wanted to extend the kitchen,’ says Jenny.
With planning permission in place, there was no question that everything in the house would need to be replaced. It was in such a bad condition after being ‘bashed about by renters,’ but undertaking a complete renovation also gave the couple the freedom to have everything they wanted.
The other big factor in the house redesign was the family’s large piano. Both boys are talented players, and it was the size of the piano that dictated where the wall was moved back to when the kitchen extension was discussed.
Modern, minimal and monochrome
With the building work underway, it was time to concentrate on the interior schemes. Jenny’s style is modern and minimal, with a love of a monochrome palette and good design.
‘I needed Dagmara’s help with sourcing pieces and putting the different options in front of me, but I’m quite decisive about what I like,’ she explains.
The family rented a flat around the corner for the duration of the build, as they wanted to settle the boys into a new school and be able to keep an eye on the work.
Plenty of storage had been high on the couple’s wish list, so they decided to go for bespoke cupboards, shelves and wardrobes to achieve the exact configurations they were looking for. The luxury of having all the joinery handmade by a carpenter was particularly useful as some of the spaces were not standard sizes.
The same went for the décor, with Dagmara being a dab hand at creating soft furnishings: ‘If there was something I really wanted but couldn’t find, like a particular style of cushion for example, she would make it for me,’ explains Jenny.
Original Edwardian tiles
New oak flooring was laid throughout the downstairs in a herringbone pattern to be authentic to the era of the house, and carpets added upstairs for a more cosy feel. The couple were delighted when taking up the old carpet in the hallway revealed the original Edwardian tiles beneath.
‘They were quite damaged, but the colours were gorgeous,’ Jenny says. ‘We were determined to restore them, and sourced individual pieces through eBay sellers to fill in some of the missing pieces, then had them polished. It’s a pleasure opening the door and seeing them – it’s our own little bit of history.’
When it comes to decorating, Jenny likes to invest in statement pieces of furniture and then add layers, while retaining an uncluttered, calm feel. In fact, the whole family has an interest and flair for design, and eldest son Mark actually designed his own bedroom from scratch, with Dagmara’s help.
‘We talked through and agreed everything together as the work progressed,’ Jenny explains. ‘And everyone had an opinion on how the exterior of the house should look. The boys were keen on white and grey, but Jason really wanted the original red-and-white combination, like other houses in the street, so we had the colour mixed up to match.’
With the eight-month project finished, the family was overjoyed to move out of their rental into the house they’d created together.
‘We spent a lot of time planning and researching, particularly when we couldn’t go there ourselves, so it’s fabulous to be in and enjoying it,’ says Jenny. ‘Everything works in the way we hoped it would, and we have the space and sociable layout we dreamed of.’
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