5 invaluable design lessons from a festive Edwardian home renovation

When renovating a historic property like a Victorian or Edwardian home, you are likely to struggle to strike a balance between creating a practical modern single family home and maintaining all of these beautiful historical features. It can be difficult to design a room to suit your tastes and the era of the home. If that sounds like you, don’t be afraid: we have housekeeping that inspires you to make a statement and bring your old home to life.

Aysha Rahman and her husband Ali wanted to expand their house to do something different – a beautiful Edwardian building. After living there for 13 years and focusing on bringing the house up to a “comfortable” standard for them and their three children, they wanted to make some major changes. “The kitchen had a galley with steps leading to a morning room,” says Aysha. “The room was really uncomfortable and cold. We’ve lived with it for some time, but we’re a big family and when we’re all together we all want to hang out in the kitchen. We wanted a place where we could all come together. ‘

The couple worked with James from architectural design and renovation firm Model Projects to bring their ambitious plan for a social new space to life. Read on to find out the top five things we learned from them to ensure home renovation success.

Edwardian living room with neutral walls, dark green painted open shelves in an alcove, pink sofa and armchair, chandelier and Christmas garland over the fireplace

Cabinets painted in Studio Green, Farrow & Ball. Flooring, woodpecker. Pink sofa, Heal’s. Pink armchair, Made. Carpet, French Connection. Chandelier, John Lewis & Partners. Coffee table, atkin & thyme

(Image credit: Chris Snook)

1. Big plans come with compromises


The owner Aysha Rahman, a full-time mom (@aysha_interiors), her husband Ali, VP of an IT company, and their children Taseen, Ilyas, and Zahir
The property A three bed Victorian terrace in North London
Project costs £ 150,000

At the top of Aysha and Ali’s wish list were height and lots of glazing, as well as practical additions such as a utility room and a dining area towards the center of the house. However, it took a few tries to get to this draft, thanks in part to planning problems.

“We wanted the enlargement weird, but the council wanted something more traditional,” says Aysha. “We also had to pay attention to the neighbors, as this can also influence the planning. In the end, we designed an L-shaped addition to make sure it didn’t go all the way to the adjacent wall instead of squaring the entire space. We lost a bit of space, but it defines the zones of the room much better that way. ‘

Hallway with original tiled floor, blue painted staircase with striped runner and interior doors in Crittal style to the living room

Chandelier, French connection. Glazed doors, Fabco Sanctuary. Stair runner Roger Oates

(Image credit: Chris Snook)

2. Living can be relatively painless

Thanks to great builders, Aysha and Ali found life relatively dramatic free during construction. “We didn’t have the budget to move out and rent – and we’d rather put the money into the house anyway,” says Aysha. “As a terrace with no side access, it could have been a nightmare, but the construction workers climbed the stairs and gave us a new front door so we could live above the chaos.”

The builders even sunk a dishwasher in the bathroom. “We felt very comfortable,” adds Aysha. “Everything went smoothly, even though the project was taking longer than expected – 10 months instead of the original five or six.”

Open rear extension with floor-to-ceiling windows in Crittal style, cozy space, gray kitchen in Shaker style and black island, skylights as well as pendant lights and bar stools in industrial style

Kitchen, neptune; Driftwood and Island units painted in charcoal, both Neptune own-label. Countertops, The Marble Group. Skylights, Velux. Bar stool, Ebay. Pendant, Etsy. Dining room chairs, HK Living. Steel doors, Fabco Sanctuary

(Image credit: Chris Snook)

3. Always keep an eye on your wish list

The design of the house evolved as Aysha saw new things that she liked, but one particular topic was always at the forefront of her thoughts. “I love the Parisian flair – courtyard gardens, black steel balconies,” she says. “We didn’t want folding doors because we wanted to hit the door with floor-to-ceiling glazing. I stumbled upon Fabco Sanctuary and loved the Crittal style doors – they are French doors on a more modern scale. The doors were one of the more expensive parts of the building, but they have such an impact on the space. ‘

For the kitchen, the couple opted for a shaker style to complement the time of the property. “It gives character and makes a nice contrast to the industrial doors,” says Aysha. “I didn’t want the style to be overwhelming, so I kept the units neutral so they almost disappear into the wall. The island is blue as a contrast – it is the most dominant part of the room. “

Gray shaker style utility room behind the pocket door

Pocket door, LPD. Spiegel, Wayfair. Furniture, Howdens. Floor tiles, fired earth

(Image credit: Chris Snook)

4. Learn from the mistakes of others

Aysha had seen other renovations on the street and noticed that the front of the house rarely flowed with the back – a design flaw she was determined to avoid. “There had to be a sequel from front to back,” she says. “I followed someone on Instagram who had French Crittal-style doors in their living room and that gave me the idea.”

The couple originally planned to install double doors in the living room, but decided to replace the entire wall between them and the hallway with glass to maximize light and connect to the rear. “We checked that everything was structurally in order and then took the plunge,” adds Aysha. “When the doors are closed, they block out more noise than you think, making it feel like a private space but still visually connected.”

Neutral bedroom in peach with a wood and glass wardrobe, boho linens, and bay window with white shutters

Bed, John Lewis & Partners. For a similar wall color, try Dusty Pink, Lick

(Image credit: Chris Snook)

5. Small adjustments make a big difference

While the kitchen was the couple’s biggest project, the rest of the house was being remodeled in small steps. As a result of the renovation, the corridor gained an additional square meter, so the couple had to procure old tiles that correspond to the originals. A utility room next to the kitchen is separated from the main room by a clever pocket door that lets light into an otherwise dark pocket in the house.

The family bathroom, previously two rooms with a toilet separated from the sink and bathtub, was created with a double sink, a modern freestanding bathtub and a walk-in shower for a feeling of luxury. The master bedroom is done in soft, earthy colors – although it’s “not finished yet,” Aysha likes to add.

Dark blue washbasin with double sinks, brass fittings, brass mirrors and pastel green metro tiles in a herringbone pattern

Vanity unit, Harvey George, painted in railing, Farrow & Ball. Marble countertop, Granite Direct. Handles, anthropology. Brassware, T Patton. Mirror, manufactured. Pendant lights, not on the high street. Wall tiles, fired earth

(Image credit: Chris Snook)

After a restrained Christmas party last year, Aysha is looking forward to moderating properly this time. “We built in a family celebration before the lockdown last year, but I’m looking forward to lots of Christmas dinners,” she says. “We open all the doors and the entire room on the ground floor becomes one. It makes a huge difference how we live now. ‘

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