Renovating a Grade II listed property and all the considerations and preparation to transform this family home in Belsize Village, Hampstead.
Before we walk you through our renovation journey, I will share a little background about my home, who I share it with and why this renovation was so important.
This process actually began around 5 years ago! When my husband and I were discussing how we use our home. We love to welcome guests and frequently have family coming to stay with us. The only space we had for them to stay was a ‘secret’ small room built behind the cupboards in the kitchen. Which was just big enough to squeeze a small double bed in. As a family we’re extremely active and enjoy lots of sporting activities. This was another big reason for us to want to expand the family home.
We originally proposed to create a whole new floor underneath our garden and this process would take us 4 years to design, submit to planning, go through appeals and finally admit defeat. When the perfect opportunity arose to buy the apartment above our ground floor home.
This was a blessing in disguise and we couldn’t wait to get our hands on it! Thankfully the people occupying the home were gracious enough to let us walk round the space a lot. Being able to take in the home in all its untouched magnolia glory! The astonishingly high ceilings (almost 4m), the generous windows and light flooded space was a dream come true. Because the home hadn’t been touched in quite some time it essentially created a blank canvas for us. It was obvious it needed to be fully ripped out to start again.
The renovation would mean that we could essentially recreate the entire floor into something more suited for purpose. However, one of our main design focal points was to retain and preserve as many period features as possible within the space. While also adhering to the restrictions that the Grade II listed property came with! Some of these stunning features included, the original ceiling design, skirting, coving and the big over-door glass insert.
When we began the rip out stage, we uncovered the original flooring! When this stage of the project started we’d already started the final design for the space and had decided on a light wood chevron. So you can imagine how amazing it was to uncover the original flooring which happened to also be wooden chevron. Sadly we weren’t able to save the floor as it was too damaged, but it was reassuring to know that our designs were essentially restoring it back to its original design.
When we uncovered the floor and sadly removed the original flooring we also weren’t prepared to find the joists were extremely weak. Thank god for contingency budget allocation!! After 120 years of use and not any upkeep the joists desperately needed restoration work to ensure we created a stable base. Although joists aren’t the most exciting part, they hold massive responsibility to ensure the whole house doesn’t collapse. Therefore… are very important. Once the joists were repaired and replaced where needed, we installed not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 flooring layers. For installation purposes and also in an attempt to absorb as much sound as possible. This was necessary to ensure peaceful family living without interrupting work and guests.
Throughout the renovation we kept uncovering more and more details around the home that we hadn’t expected to find. Another one of our favourite finds was the coving in the hallway and where the new sauna & bath area was. The original ceiling had been hidden at some point with a lower more standard plaster board ceiling. This took the area from a ceiling height of 2.45m to 3.8m. The original coving also created a beautiful design that wrapped around the bathroom are and created a feature to see while laying in the bath.
The windows. Where to start! The windows were perhaps the most problematic in terms of rectifying. Some of the window frames had deteriorated hugely and we weren’t sure about the extent of the damage. We really wanted to preserve as much as we could. Including the huge stained glass panels at the top of each of the windows. It was impossible to know whether ripping them out would unleash more problems or whether trying to repair them would only be a temporary solution. One that would potentially come back to haunt us! In the end we decided to replace all of them properly. Even though it was quite the investment, I believe it was an important decision to safe-guard us from any future issues.
We had to source a specific glass that isn’t designed like the latest architectural glass (which reflects the outdoors so you can’t see inside). Histoglass was a company that specialised in the only glass Camden borough would permit. So we sourced all the single glazing panels from there and fitted them into the windows along with the carefully preserved stained glass panels to create the beautiful windows you see throughout the project.
Overall, these were just a few of the issues we can across during the renovation, which highlights again how important having a contingency budget is. To ensure you’re always prepared and covered in the event of issues arising. Especially when dealing with an old home or full restoration project. We were able to deal with them efficiently and make decisions that would protect the family home for years to come.
Head over to our instagram @myhampsteadhomestory to see the progress through the project as well as before and afters.
Contact us to discuss your renovation project and see how we can help.