Holland Park | London W8

Restoring timeless elegance, a restoration of Georgian period features

This residential project was a thorough renovation of a handsome Grade II listed six story Georgian townhouse in west London. A full restoration of the period features, retaining the original architectural details wherever possible, was a specific requirement of listed building consent. Purple Design were engaged by the client to carry out the design and interior refurbishment of their house in order to fulfil an elegantly finished period restoration.

Scope of Works

The eighteen-month building project comprised development of the property’s potential footprint, extending downwards to create a new lower ground level, to maximise living space and enhance the value of the property. Rebuilding of the enlarged ground floor rear extension with a glazed façade and reconfiguration of the existing rear extension over the ground, first and second floors. Metal railings to the first-floor terrace and lightwell, replacement of rooflights to the ground floor extension with walk on glass. Internal alterations to the grade II listed building including the closet wings on first and second floor levels, new kitchen, new bathrooms and powder rooms.

Purple Design worked initially with the client’s architects who successfully gained planning approval and listed building consent. The architects oversaw the excavation of the basement to create the shell of a large living space on the lower floor level; the knocking down the old and rebuilding of the new rear extensions. The architects specified replacement of the roof lights in the extension with walk-on glass, a light well in the garden to bring daylight down to the lower ground floor level, and safety railings around the light well and around the terrace up on the first floor. The house was fully rewired and given new plumbing.

Rooflights bring daylight to the ground floor extension, with two large frameless walk-on glass roof lights built into deep soffit as well as a large frameless skylight above the stairwell at the top of the house where the children’s bedrooms, bathrooms and nanny’s quarters are on the fourth and fifth floors.

Internal alterations to the grade II listed building include; crittal glazing to the new ground floor extension leading to the garden, the new internal double doors in the entrance hallway, internal finishes for walls and flooring throughout; floor finishes and furnishing the outdoor terrace, restoration of the fireplaces, staircase and Georgian shutters; the joinery throughout, interior design of the furniture and furnishings; the lighting design; everything for the new kitchen, fixtures and fittings for new bathrooms and powder rooms.

bespoke joinery in the closet wings on the first and second floor.

Interior Renovations

The property is an elegant townhouse on a quiet leafy square in Holland Park, with through-rooms on both the ground and first floors, giving a double-aspect looking out onto gardens. The house was decorated in a restrained taste, with an emphasis on the quality of the materials and finishes without ostentation, to allow the refined elegance of the Georgian architectural features to come to the fore of the decor.

The interior design plays to the strengths of a Georgian townhouse; full height sash windows with the original folding wooden shutters, and gracious drawing rooms enhanced by, ornate cornices, deep set architraves around the doorways and high skirting boards painted in a soft white to stand out against the duck egg blue and pale ash grey walls.

The interior redecoration focused on the painstaking restoration of the architectural details of the grade II listed building, retaining the original period features wherever possible, and carefully repairing them or replacing any damaged sections of ornamental plasterwork that was beyond repair. Folding Georgian wooden shutters were retained as the window treatments and were restored to working order. The staircase spindles, balustrades and banisters were refurbished and given a new finish.

Period fireplaces were brought back to life, refurbished with working period register grates. Where fireplaces had been concealed over the years, these were opened up and period fire surrounds were replaced and new register grates were installed.

A contemporary log-burning stove warms the heart of the living space in the family room while fireplaces with new Georgian working register-grates create a feeling of home and hearth in the drawing room, dining room and master bedrooms. Traditional cast iron radiators in keeping with the period of the house were installed in the first-floor drawing from and the bedrooms upstairs. Underfloor heating was installed throughout the lower ground floor, and in the kitchen and family living room in the contemporary extension on the ground floor.

The Interiors

The décor is understated while making an impression. The dining room walls are smartly decorated in pale duck egg blue. Comfortable upholstered tub chairs covered in a graphic blue and oyster silk fabric are set around a dining table, a rather special piece of furniture designed by Purple Design, made in black gloss sycamore with elegantly tapering legs capped with polished nickel detailing.

The home is filled with natural daylight, and the restful bedrooms look out onto the garden with a view of the trees. The drawing room on the first floor is a double room. The room to the front is decorated in cool grey with blue-grey sofas while the adjoining room is decorated in sophisticated midnight blue, a grown-up place to relax with a deep sofa covered in a dreamy mossy-green velvet chesterfield.

Joinery skills were applied to restoring the working window shutters and to the original Georgian bookcases set into alcoves in the first-floor drawing room. The restored bookcases were finished in a specialist parchment finish. Cabinets were built into the alcoves on either side of the chimney breast in the dining room on the ground floor with verre-eglomise glass doors and a specialist frottage finish.

The master bedroom suite occupies the second floor, a dressing room with Macassar ebony wardrobes and silk carpets sits between the master bedroom and the bathroom, with large slabs of green and white Pentaligon marble on the floor and walls, and a huge bathtub for soaking. Separately there are two matching shower rooms, each with a private wc, for efficiently showering and dressing.

The children’s bathrooms have a playful theme. In one of the colourful children’s bathrooms the handmade encaustic floor tiles pick up on the iconic rubber duck image that is recessed into a niche above the bath. Solutions to minimising clutter in the family’s living space include a wall of shelving to store the children’s toys, and concealing the snaking pipework from the stove up to the roof level.

The chalky-grey Shaker style cabinets fitted in the kitchen were made bespoke. Cool pale grey veined marble island worktop and marble upstand around the hob in the kitchen, recalls the marble flooring glimpsed in the entrance hallway, which has an elegant console table by Purple Design. The harlequin pattern of the marble hall way is echoed in the diamond graphic pattern of the rug in the drawing room on the first floor.

The kitchen leads in to the panelled dining room, a double aspect through-room on the ground floor. Elegantly proportioned timber panelling was built around the walls of the dining room to create a formal setting, with original period skirtings and deep-set architraves around the window, creating a timeless impression. Here in the dining room, and in the drawing rooms the priority was to restore the Georgian features. The brief was that furnishings were kept understated and discreetly comfortable.

The client said of commissioning Purple Design: ‘Orla has excellent but flexible taste and created a perfect look for us, once she understood our preferences. No silly frippery here.’

Continuity flowing through the house is a key to creating a sense of harmony. Luxuriant Versailles panelled wenge flooring runs through the double drawing room on the first-floor level. Rich smoked oak wide plank flooring runs from the family living room into the kitchen on the ground floor; and the pattern changes to herringbone for a more formal mood in the dining room. The dark smoked oak flooring continues on the new staircase leading downstairs to the new lower ground level, and through the downstairs playroom, joining the newly built parts to the rest of the house. A bespoke herringbone flat-weave carpet leads off the marble patterned hallway at ground floor level and runs through the upper floors.

The footprint of the house was maximised with the new rear extension and the lower ground floor level, and the living space was planned to utilise every part of the house. The bulk of the budget for the renovation project was spent on the excavation of the basement to create the new lower ground level. Throughout the house every corner was carefully thought out, no recess was wasted, even the landings are used for a thoughtful feature. A wine wall was designed into the recess in the closet wing on the first-floor landing, where doors leads out onto the garden terrace over the extension. Leading up to the second-floor level, the closet wing off the landing which was altered to match the house next door is fitted with bespoke joinery to create a library with a pensive window seat.

The house looks out over a leafy square, and these cosy corners provide a vantage point. A pair of leather covered chairs that were originally intended for the family room were brought upstairs and placed beside the fireplace in the master bedroom where they offer a moment of peace and quiet for making a phone call away from the hub of the house while looking out at the trees.

It was a major renovation which involved extensive building work but once the dust settled the clients could enjoy a room with a view.

We very much enjoyed working with Orla and her team at Purple Design over a comprehensive refurbishment of our house. Purple offered a full-service scope- from CAD drawings to tile and lighting plans to fabric samples. Orla has excellent but flexible taste and created a perfect look for us once she understood our preferences. Her experience in building projects meant she understood the timeline and level of detail required at every stage and drove attention to detail throughout the project. She was always very sensible about budget and only proposed good value items. No silly frippery here, Orla is an experienced design professional who works hard and offers her excellent judgment.

E Eisenberg