A 100-Year-Old Edwardian House’s Remodel Includes a Green Living Room, Black Hallway, and More
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Name: Laura, husband Paul, baby Oli, and two ginger cats Frank and Lollie
Location: South East London, England, UK
Size: 1500 square feet
Type of Home: Edwardian Terraced House
Years lived in: 3.5 years, owned
Just before we viewed this house we were in one that ticked all of our search criteria but weirdly I knew I could never live there. It felt dark and cold (even though it wasn’t). Then our agent convinced us to look at this house (the pics were terrible) and the moment we walked in and stood in the hallway we just looked at each other and knew. When we stepped into the living room Paul said, “I can see our first family Christmas here.” I never believed in “the feeling” until then but it is real and a little bit magical. The house ticked all of the boxes and then some.
It is a period property, with a very interesting history. Built by the architect Archibald Cameron Corbett, it is on an estate that was part of a social housing experiment into “healthful” living in the 1900s. It retained all five original fireplaces, has tall ceilings, picture rails, ceiling roses… if you like this kind of thing it’s a dream! Aside from that it’s a real all-year round house. We light the fire in the living room and snuggle down with a glass of wine and a cheeseboard during the winter. Then in the summer the light streams all the way through the house from south to north. In the warmer weather we love to open up the bifold kitchen doors onto our south-facing garden and drink coffee in the morning as we listen to the birds.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Modern Edwardian styling… a celebration of original period features mixed with chic hotel vibes.
Inspiration: Traveling all over Europe with work I have been lucky enough to stay in some incredible hotels and go to some wonderful restaurants. I take a lot of inspiration from these types of venues; something will strike a chord and I’ll think “oh that needs to come home!” For example… my husband took me to Maison Breguet in Paris for my 30th and they had this incredible wallpaper — old fashioned in style but modern in color. The concept stuck in my mind and became the style I wanted to achieve in the nursery.
Favorite Element: I live in a constant cycle of appreciation where I determine one thing to be my favorite and then I spend time with another and change my mind! Right now it’s the huge gold mirror over the living room fireplace. I looked for three years for a mirror of that size and shape and I ended up finding this on eBay for just £46! It’s the bargain of my life!
Biggest Challenge: The nursery. We had no budget allocated to it beyond paint and a new cupboard. My husband worked on it solo for six months whilst I was pregnant. It was one of those projects that just kept on getting worse. The more you do, the more issues you uncover. The room had been painted, but over wallpaper. When my husband stripped back the wallpaper, there were another two layers of wallpaper underneath. On the walls and the ceiling. Then we found underneath all that the plaster was blown. We had conflicting advice as to how bad it was; one tradesperson said skim it. Another advised a whole wall needed to be replaced. Then there was a cut off joint from an old gas pipe protruding. We had to decide whether to remove it or work around it (I hung a hat on it in the end — out of mind out of sight!).
The walls were extremely uneven and the paneling wood was warped but mid pandemic there were wood shortages everywhere and it was all we could get. The electrician couldn’t find a grounded wire and the ceiling rose had to be removed in order to investigate, locate the ground wire and install the light fixture we had purchased. So of course it cracked in the process. Finally, the day we had the carpenter in to build the front on our IKEA PAX hack cupboard (a month before my due date) our baby was born by emergency C-Section. It was a fitting end to the process but honestly, the finished room (and it’s new occupant) were totally worth it! We got through it by constantly weighing our options and trying to tread a middle ground of doing what is safe and using professionals where needed whilst saving money on furniture and decor that will change rapidly with a growing child.
Proudest DIY: The main bedroom. This is where the DIY journey really began for us. We did everything we could ourselves and even attempted DIY paneling, which came out better than we even hoped. We get loads of compliments on it and so many people DM’d about how to do it that I ended up making a guide in our IG highlights.
Biggest Indulgence: The most expensive item in the house is our Henry Sofa by Arlo & Jacob. We put a lot of time and research into the purchase and spread-sheeted our criteria: 1) Deep seat, 2) Single bench cushion (because sliding into a cushion crack gives me the ick), 3) A traditional aesthetic (castor feet, button backs; think Chesterfield styles) and 4) not too hard, not too soft (I hate a sink-y feeling and he can’t hack the level of firm I want in a seat). It took us almost a year to purchase because we sat on every single sofa we could find, by every brand we could find. So when we say Henry is the King of Sofas, we have it on good authority.
Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? I get a lot of comments about the Droffice. It’s my room and I just couldn’t decide which I needed more: a dressing room or office. It is right next to our bedroom so I use it for storing clothes, shoes, handbags, makeup, paperwork, getting ready and working on my laptop. During lockdown, a lot of the people I work with became familiar with my shoe collection. Hence, the “Droffice”!
What’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Spend your money on the things you touch, and do as much of the labour yourself as possible! For instance, we painted and paneled our bedroom so that instead of paying a professional to do it, we spent our budget on high-end brassware and a luxury bedframe. Now every time I am in the room I am touching high-quality materials and can fancy myself in a boutique hotel room.
PAINT & COLORS
- Living Room — “Dragonfly” by Benjamin Moore
- Hallway — “Black 02” by Lick
- Main Bedroom — “Rocky Mountain Mist” by Valspar
- Nursery — Forest Friends Wallpaper, colour 77 by Borastapeter
- Bathroom — “Peacock Blues” by Valspar
- Droffice — “Brilliant White” by Dulux
- Ceiling Light — houseof
This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.
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