Couple transform a tired looking 1920s Arts and Crafts house into an elegant family home
PUBLISHED: 08:00 26 June 2015 | UPDATED: 16:30 05 October 2018
"I was blown away," says Laura Hawkes, as she recalls stepping through the door of her first Arts and Crafts home 10 years ago.
The Arts and Crafts Movement
The Arts and Crafts Movement was a reaction to the excesses of Victorian industrialisation.
It grew from a desire to revive traditional craftsmanship and restore simplicity and honesty to how buildings and furnishings were made.
Many of its leading figures were architects, rather than designers, and they came to view buildings and their interiors as a whole.
The former model and her husband Gary Hawkes, had been on the hunt for a property in north London for their family of five when they spotted the house.
“I’d mainly lived in Victorian houses, and thought we’d probably go for this style again,” she explains. “But then we went to look at the Arts and Crafts house and I couldn’t believe the space inside – the depth and width of it was incredible.
“The hallways in particular were huge compared to the narrow Victorian ones I was used to – almost rooms in themselves.”
The Hawkes family enjoyed eight years in the semi-detached property, which the couple fully renovated, before Laura and Gary got itchy feet.
“We liked the idea of a detached house, and also a new project to work on. So we had a look around and found another great Arts and Crafts property in Brondesbury Park, which we bought in January last year.
“Sadly many of the original features had been ripped out and the place hadn’t been modernised since the 70s – but we could see the potential.”
The pair embarked on a mammoth renovation project which saw the house “reduced to a skeleton”, says Laura. The property was then carefully brought back to life.
Apart from building an extension at the back of the house, which houses an open-plan kitchen and dining area, few structural changes were made. But a number of features – both period and modern – were added to each room to restore the home’s former elegance and reflect the family’s tastes and personality.
Possibly the most striking are the decorative leaded windows and the Crittal-style steel framed windows of the extension.
“The house didn’t have steel-framed windows originally, but they were popular around the time the house was built,” says Laura, who together with her husband designed all the rooms. “I think they look great and add a lot of character to the room.”
Much of the furniture was found on eBay, including the dining table, wicker chairs by the wood burner and the 1950s cocktail sofa and arm chairs.
All the walls and the shaker deVOL kitchen are painted in Farrow and Ball.
“There are no white walls in the house – instead we went for mainly soft, muted tones, apart from in the library which we painted a very dark colour called Hague Blue.
“This is were we go in the evenings. It’s very cosy.”
On the first floor is the master bedroom, with its opulent emperor bed, dressing room, and en-suite. The latter features a cast iron boat bath, twin marble basins, lights held by golden mermaids and a shower which also functions as a steam room. “I wanted something grown-up and glamorous,” says Laura.
The couple’s daughter, 15-year-old Gracy, also has her room on the first floor, while the boys, Harvey, 13 and Luke, 11, sleep in the two-bedroom loft conversion.
As the renovations came to an end this month, the couple opened their doors to the public as part of Living Etc magazine’s house tours. The annual event gives readers the chance to step inside some of the most stylish homes in the capital.
They have also begun hiring out the property for photo shoots, with a major department store filming on the premises this week.
“It was quite expensive to renovate the place, so this is a great way of re-couping some of the money!,” says Laura. “It’s also lovely to see the house appreciated by others.”
She admits the 16-month project was rather stressful at times but feels it was worth it in the end. “I’m really happy with what we’ve done. I wanted it to feel like part of us, not a show house, and I think we’ve achieved that.”
Anyone interested in hiring the house for a photo shoot should go to 1st-option.com for more information.
All photos taken by Matt Clayton Photography (mattclaytonphotography.co.uk)
Steel-framed windows: fabcosanctuary.com
Paint: Kitchen cabinets in Moles Breath, kitchen/dining room wall panels in Purbeck Stone, and library in Hague Blue, all by farrow-ball.com
Wood burner: charnwood.com
Some of the light fittings: rothschildbickers.com