Some of these big houses have shallow foundations, which limits what you can do without spending a fortune on underpinning. And, because much of the area’s charm is in its roads featuring row upon row of uniform houses, planners like to keep the traditional look at both the front and back.
While that’s understandable at the front, it’s frustrating at the back if you want to renovate and extend. This is where architects come in handy.
TAKE A TOUR OF THE TRANSFORMED NOTTING HILL TERRACE:
Our bright and modern family home in Notting Hill
Our bright and modern family home in Notting Hill
1/10 A classic London terrace
The W8 house was in good condition but had too many rooms.Photographs: Charles Hosea
2/10 Double-height addition
The new extension has slick sliding doors at basement level and a vast picture window above.
3/10 Streamlined look
The architects removed architraves and cornices and put in shadow gaps.
4/10 Modern design
Old fireplaces gave way to smart, open boxes.
5/10 Wood always works
Oak flooring lends a practical yet modern feel to the bright home.
6/10 Finishing touches
The Baileys worked with an interior architect, Uta de Veer, on details including bespoke cupboards and the palette of contemporary neutrals.
7/10 Understated glamour
The off-white Poliform kitchen is a triumph of restrained modernity, with a gorgeous floor of grey Tuscan stone.
8/10 Adding warmth to white
Even though Scout really likes white, she concedes that the house needed some colour.
Designers made the most of natural light in the bathroom without compromising on privacy.
10/10 Homely yet modern
Scout says that when the family return from trips away, they appreciate the peacefulness of the house, and feel that truly, there is nowhere quite as good as home.
Scout, 40, is American and her 44-year-old husband Scott is from New Zealand, so Victorian London houses — with typical characteristics such as relatively dark divided spaces — didn’t push their buttons.
The couple met in New York, where Scout was in advertising, and Scott in banking. They moved to London 14 years ago, at first renting a flat in a Notting Hill mansion block.
They loved the area and their well-built apartment, but once their son was a toddler and they were expecting another baby, it was time to go house hunting.
They started looking in 2005 — and only in W11. After a fruitless year, which included being gazumped, they gave up when their daughter was born.
But while at home with the new baby, Scout went back on the computer, looking at neighbouring W8 for the first time and “immediately, this house popped up”. The sale was straightforward and they moved in.
Straddling the border of the two postcodes, the house was in good condition but had too many rooms. The kitchen and dining room were on entry level, while the half-basement had a low ceiling and contained several rooms including a dark playroom their son didn’t like.
The back of the house held a shallow, original, two-storey timber conservatory with a narrow lightwell between it and the lawned garden. There was also an old metal stair going down to the garden. None of this worked.
After living with it for a year, the Baileys wanted more light and space, and hired architect Claire Hale of DBLO Associates. While pregnant, Scout enjoyed browsing Elle Decoration and Livingetc magazines. “They were my bibles,” she says. Then the couple gave Hale a wish list that included light, space, storage, pared-back lines and a neutral palette of off-whites, dark wood and natural stone.
They had spotted a modern double-height glass box at a nearby house, but when Scout and her husband went to the planners with the same idea, it was rejected.
“So,” says Hale, “We worked with the planners to get as much as possible done under permitted development rights.” These rights do what they say — grant the right to build some things without needing planning permission, such as certain extensions, although this does not apply in listed homes or conservation areas.
Since a glass box idea had been rejected, the architects persuaded the planners to agree to a like-for-like replacement instead. Hale and her team replaced the two-storey conservatory with a double-height extension that has slick, full-height, narrow-profile sliding doors right across at basement level and a vast picture window above, while still retaining the brickwork.
They pushed the design as far as possible and it paid off. Not only does a vast amount of light come through the picture windows, but an extra window in what was the original back wall creates views that pull light into the hall, so you can see right through to the landscaped garden.
The former sitting room has a glass balustrade into the double-height space, which makes the whole house seem bigger and brighter.
To build on the streamlined look, the architects removed architraves and cornices and put in shadow gaps. Old fireplaces gave way to smart, open boxes. On each landing, door openings were moved to create space for big concealed runs of cupboards.
The Baileys also worked with an interior architect, Uta de Veer, on details such as the palette and a glossy black French-polished handrail that snakes like a rivulet through the house. Beautiful grey Tuscan stone on the kitchen floor and in the back garden adds to the understated glamour, while the off-white Poliform kitchen is a triumph of restrained modernity.
Throughout the house, all the bespoke cupboards have recessed handles so nothing juts out — “That’s Uta,” says Scout, pleased. But, even though Scout really likes white, she concedes that the house needed some colour. After paint tests on walls in five closely linked neutral shades, they found exactly the right tone.
The couple had such a clear idea of the homely yet modern feel they wanted to create that whenever they return from a trip, Scout says, not only do they feel how peaceful it is — which is absolutely true — but also that there really is nowhere quite as good as home.
What it cost
- House in 2006 was £1,875,000 — a further £750,000 has been spent on it
- Value now: £6 million to £7 million (estimate)
Get the look
- Architect: Claire Hale at DBLO Associates
- Sliding windows in basement by www.finelinealuminium.co.uk
- Varenna kitchen from Poliform
- Pietra Serena stone floors from companies such as www.thestonecollection.co.uk
- Wide-plank dark oak floor in sitting room by Schotten & Hansen
- Spoon XL egg-shaped bath in master bathroom by Agape
- Strong White and Blackened White paint, and other colours, from Farrow & Ball
- All sofas from B &B Italia
- Carpet in sitting room from The Rug Company
- Arctic Pear chandelier from Ochre
- CH07 Hans Wegner shell chair designed in 1963 for Carl Hansen, from Skandium