Transforming an unloved Victorian rental house

Interior designer Holly Wick bought an unloved Victorian rental property and made it home with her quirky approach
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Holly Wick loves jewellery. From the jumbled pots on her antique dressing table, to her kitchen, where two giant pendant lights hang above her dining table, it's all about accessorising.

"They're actually old chicken-house heaters that I had rewired," she says nonchalantly of the lights. "People are like, 'Aren't they too big?' And they probably are, but I just love using industrial paraphernalia."

Holly Wick transformed jer Victorian home
© All photographs by Lisa Cohen / Styling by Mary Weaver
Holly opened up the front rooms and hall to a large open-plan living area

Living room: by opening up the front rooms and hall, Holly has given her home's Victorian details more presence and room to breathe. The understated grey backdrop is enlivened with lush textures and warmer colours.

Get The Look: the Content by Conran sofa is covered in a Designers Guild velvet. The Eames rocking chair was bought at a market. To buy a new Eames RAR rocking chair, go to Vitra. The chandelier and coffee table are from The table light in the corner was found at a car boot sale. For similar, try Mid Century Modern. The pineapple on the mantelpiece came from Ardingly Antiques & Collectors Fair. For similar, try Caravan.

Holly is an interior designer, and her comments sum up her quirky approach. Like a bird picking twigs to make a nest, she has assembled a magpie mix of disparate strands to create her home, with a Victorian-style bath here, a Parker Knoll sofa and chevron rug there, all intertwined. She shares her home with boyfriend Will Vaughan who works in property development, and their cat, Didier, named after the footballer Didier Drogba. They live in a three-storey Victorian terrace house in west London with a living room, kitchen-diner and lavatory on the ground floor, two bedrooms and bathrooms on the first floor and a third bedroom and bathroom on the second floor.

"I like combining different influences, but I didn't want to take away from the building's Victorian character," says Holly. The house was in a sorry state when she bought it two years ago. "It had been rented out for years and was pretty unloved. For the first six months, it was a building site."

Holly Wick transformed her Victorian home
Two large pendant lights from Circus Antiques ( hang over the kitchen table as statement accessories

Kitchen: Holly doubled her kitchen's size by extending into the side return and added glazing at the back with a long skylight on top.

Get the look: the lights came from Circus Antiques. The table was made by Pigeon Vintage Furniture. The Bertoia wire chairs are from Little Paris and the wood-backed dining chairs were found at The Peanut Vendor. The cooker and hood are by Smeg. The geometric wall tiles are by Emery & Cie, available at Retrouvius.

Working with architect John Kirk Wilson, she knocked through the front reception rooms and hall to create something rare — a Victorian home that's open and spacious as soon as you walk in. They also doubled the size of the kitchen at the back by extending into the garden's side return, and changed the layout upstairs from four bedrooms and two bathrooms to three bedrooms and three bathrooms.

Holly Wick transformed her Victorian home
Holly brightened up her bedroom with a mustard-coloured headboard (left); Holly spent a year working on interiors, regularly going to antique shops to source furniture (right)

Master bedroom: Holly indulged in some luxe touches for the bedroom with chic bedding and a bespoke mustard-coloured headboard to lighten up the space. A Victorian-style radiator has also been fitted, in keeping with the building's heritage.

Get the look: the wings on the wall are from Rockett St George. The bedside cabinets and made-to-order headboard are from Holly's House. The headboard is covered in linen fabric by Busby & Busby. The bedding is from Caravane. The patterned pillow is covered in fabric by Elli Popp, available from Holly's House. The AJ Eklipta bedside light is by Louis Poulsen from Twentytwentyone. The radiator is from Stonewoods. The walls are painted in Paint Library's Boudoir emulsion.

Holly Wick transformed jer Victorian home
Holly modeled her bathroom around the metal bath, which was one of the first things she bought for the house
Holly then spent a year on the interiors, with regular swoops to antiques markets and a canny selection of contemporary designs. Pieces by Lee Broom, Moooi and Jonathan Adler live with vintage furniture in her home, just as they do in her shop and interior design business, Holly's House in Parsons Green. "The two influence each other," she says. "Thankfully, I work with a friend who keeps me in check so half the shop doesn't escape to my living room."

Her design technique is basically to choose what she loves, "but be practical. I find that sketching a space helps me visualise what it needs and I always ask myself if I'll use something before I buy it. Though I still come across things I have to have."

Themes help tie things together. There is a feel of country-in-the-city with exposed brick, a big kitchen table and those chicken-house heaters. "I'm a country girl at heart, so when I come home I don't like to feel as if I'm in the city," she says. "That's why a big kitchen table was important, rather than an island in the middle."

For quiet nights, Holly and Will have the front room, with its darker colours and working fireplace. "That's the room that makes me happiest when I get home," says Holly. "The grey walls and warm colours, the velvet sofa, comfy cushions, snug Eames rocker and sheepskin rug, make it cosy for me."

En suite bathroom: "The bath was one of the first things that I bought for the house," says Holly. "I then made everything work around it, with a black wall so it really stands out. I love the way its slightly battered surface catches the light."

Get the look: the bath, tap and shower attachment are by William Holland. The wall is painted in Farrow & Ball's Off-Black estate emulsion. The flooring is by Element 7. For a similar loo, try Laufen. Try Graham & Green for a sun-shaped mirror. Find similar blinds at Direct Blinds.

Holly Wick transformed jer Victorian home
See Holly Wick's work at See architect John Kirk Wilson's portfolio at

The full version of this article appears in the November issue of Livingetc, out now.

Photographs by Lisa Cohen / Styling by Mary Weaver

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