Belsize Park Gardens

An extensive remodeling and refurbishment of an apartment within a Victorian stucco fronted house.

The brief from a couple with a young child was principally to create a 3rd bedroom-cum-study/family snug without extending the apartment. By fitting a series of reclaimed 19th century partially glazed doors and screens that opened or closed as the function of the central area dictated, we created this additional space and still kept the property’s greatest feature of light and openness intact.

A balance was sought to keep the existing fabric and period details in place whilst insulating an energy efficient shell. This was tricky at times! For instance, our clients were adamant about keeping the existing floor boards. It was clear however that with so many defects and gaps, to remove, insulate the floor cavity, refit and make do, would still result in an inefficient barrier and would also be more expensive than simply replacing the boards. So to honour the existing floorboards, we designed a slatted coffee table using the best boards as a lovely reminder of our struggle!

Actually several special things occurred during the build. In the bedroom-cum-snug-cum-study we considered reinstating a small window that still had its internal recess and cill. Instead, we made a lightbox within which we inserted a sheet of glass upon which we handpainted plans of both the apartment’s existing and built layout – again a nice reminder of the decisions our clients made with us.
And on one of our shopping trips for our clients, we came across a delightful bronze door plate which had, by chance, an elaborate A and M inscribed within – the initials of our clients. So it was an easy call to fit that!

These little things make the difference. One needs the bones to be right of course – the layout, form and materiality – but then the layering with things such as a reclaimed glazed partition, making a coffee table by reusing discarded floor boards, finding a beautiful door plate and reminding the client of their home refurbishment journey by building a painted glass light box – these things make a project.