Belsize Park family home combines period charm and contemporary elegance

PUBLISHED: 11:00 28 August 2014 | UPDATED: 11:01 29 August 2014

Paul in the living room with the twins

Paul in the living room with the twins


Paul and Hisae Tomasic bought their Victorian flat in 2008, before renovating the Belsize Park property three years later. The pair, who work in finance and have twin daughters Maya and Ria, six, were keen to retain the beautiful period features while adding an elegant, contemporary feel. They also wanted to introduce more of a flow to the home, moving away from the rather segregated layout.

Paul and Hisae's bedroom Paul and Hisae's bedroom

Here Paul tells us a little bit more...

What attracted you to the flat?

We were instantly attracted to it because of its location, its lay-out and the period features (stained glass windows, high ceilings with beautiful mouldings). Very little had been done to the place for 30 or 40 years but we could envision what it would look like with a major renovation.

Twins Ria (left) and Maya in their bedroom Twins Ria (left) and Maya in their bedroom

What were your aims when you decided to renovate?

First, it was important to us to find the right balance between retaining the wonderful period features (which had to remain anyway as the building is listed) while bringing in a contemporary feel to the place.

Second, we wanted to design a home that had a flow to it rather than one that led each individual of the household to hole-up in a particular room of the flat. We are big believers that the structure of your home has an impact on your family life.

The twins' bedroom can be split into two, so they can have a room each when they're older The twins' bedroom can be split into two, so they can have a room each when they're older

Third, we wanted a lasting design, and were keen to avoid ultra-modern or ultra-trendy designs that would fade away in a few years.

Tell us a bit about some of the changes you made

The biggest change we made was to move the position of the kitchen from a small room in one end of the flat to a place where it was inter-connected with our living room. This involved taking down a major wall. For us the kitchen is a central part of our daily family life and not a separate room where meals are prepared.

The kitchen was moved and now inter-connects with the livingroom The kitchen was moved and now inter-connects with the livingroom

Other changes including turning a small, closet-like space into a wonderful little office that houses my book collection. We also opted for a under-floor heating system which we are very happy with. It is not only efficient in terms of energy bills but aesthetically pleasing as there are no longer any external radiators. Our architect Gregory Phillips played a big and important part in realising our ideas.

What do Maya and Ria think of their room?

They love it. It is actually two rooms with sliding doors that disappear into the walls between them – one is a bedroom and one a play area. In the future, this will allow them to split more formally into two separate rooms if they want. The kids’ room benefits from wonderful sunlight (when we get it in England!) as it’s south-facing.

The flat boasts many period features including beautiful stained-glass windows The flat boasts many period features including beautiful stained-glass windows

You didn’t take any furniture with you from your previous home. Was it difficult leaving so much behind and starting from scratch?

Not really. For years we had gravitated toward older and Asian furniture (Hisae is from Japan), but in the back of our minds we always wanted to move to a modern, clean look. Luckily both of us are entirely on the same page when it comes to furniture, design etc. We had some help choosing a couple of pieces of furniture (a Knoll desk and chair) from our neighbour Carly Madhvani, who runs furniture consultancy business, NW3 Interiors. She was fantastic.

A large cupboard was turned into a study and library to house Paul's book collection A large cupboard was turned into a study and library to house Paul's book collection

How do you feel about your home now?

The place has exceeded all our expectations. It is the most comfortable flat that we could possible imagine living in: warm, contemporary, and with period features retained, it has a wonderful flow for family life.

Just perfect really.

For more information on architect Gregory Phillips see here and on NW3 Interiors click here.

Neighbour and furniture specialist Carly Madhvani helped the couple choose the Knoll chair Neighbour and furniture specialist Carly Madhvani helped the couple choose the Knoll chair

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