A large single-storey extension and some careful replanning has unlocked the potential of Lizzy and Ricky Stringer’s terrace.
Like many London buyers, Lizzy and Ricky Stringer could only step up the property ladder by taking on a project. Having already moved the bathroom upstairs and created a bigger kitchen in their previous home, they were keen to renovate again on a larger scale when a Victorian villa came up for sale in Dulwich. ‘I looked past the dated decor and noticed the high ceilings, generous room sizes and beautiful wide staircase,’ says Lizzy. ‘I knew we could strip everything back and start again.’ As they wanted to get the work done straight away, the plans were drawn up during the buying process. ‘We submitted them the day after we exchanged contracts,’ says Lizzy, ‘and the builders started upstairs while we waited for planning permission.’ Luckily, the couple were able to rent a friend’s flat nearby for four months, visiting the site three times a week. Work started in summer 2018, with damaged picture and dado rails replaced and reclaimed fireplaces sourced for the bedrooms, while new wood-effect sash windows replicated the originals. ‘Unfortunately, the only thing that is original is the brown stone fire surround in the snug,’ says Lizzy. The rear section of the house has been remodelled by knocking together the kitchen and dining room, demolishing the lean-to and extending into the side return and rear garden to create a 30ft kitchen-diner with a new utility room and downstairs cloakroom. In the master bedroom, the original floorboards were restored and a reclaimed fireplace was installed, along with panelling and bespoke alcove wardrobes. ‘We tried to bring it back to the period,’ says Lizzy. ‘Our builder did a great job with the panelling, which he recreated from Pinterest pictures I showed him.’ Reconfiguring the layout of the bathroom, which had a shower over the bath, proved challenging. ‘We spent a long time in there with the builder and a tape measure but couldn’t work out how to fit in a walk-in shower and a freestanding bath,’ says Lizzy. ‘In the end, we had to move the door.’ When it came to the decor, Lizzy describes her style as classic London chic. ‘I love places like Soho Home, so have bought pieces from its collection, such as its Burleigh pottery,’ she says. ‘The neutral tones at Daylesford’s cottages and spa retreat have also given me ideas for the soft greys and whites in the sitting room. However, I think you can go a bit more dramatic in smaller spaces like I’ve done with the bathroom.’ Although the project was completed on time, there were several issues that pushed the couple over their budget. ‘We had to replace all the rotten joists and flooring in the hallway and sitting room, and it cost extra to reroute the pipework to a new manhole cover in the garden,’ explains Lizzy. ‘We also invested in a new front door as the stained glass fell out of the flimsy original one, and we spent a bit more than initially planned on the kitchen and on good-quality windows.’ Despite the overspend, the couple are pleased with their finished home. ‘I love how quiet and private it is at the back of the house, and the new space is great for New Year’s Eve parties and summer barbecues,’ says Lizzy. ‘We’re lucky enough to have parking, which is unusual for London, so it’s ideal for commuting. The area is lovely with lots going on, so we don’t see ourselves moving anytime soon.