Earlier in the year we were approached by a client who had purchased a listed building on Wellington Square with the request to help them convert it into a family home. The building was originally constructed as a family home but, like most of the buildings around Wellington Square, had been converted to another use shortly after it was constructed. Number 12 was also similar to the buildings around the square in that it offered a large amount of accommodation but spaced vertically, an arrangement which required a creative response to ensure the family home would meet the needs of a modern family. We have obtained planning and listed permission for our clients and work has just started on the conversion.
The plan form of the building is typical of buildings of the late Georgian period, with two rooms per floor, served by a single staircase, with principal reception rooms at ground floor, main family living and dining rooms at first floor piano nobile level, adult bedrooms at second floor and childrens and staff bedrooms at third and fourth floors. The kitchen, pantry and coal stores would have been situated out of sight at the basement level.
Our proposals centred around the provision of a modern arrangement of rooms, parts of which required close discussion with the conservation officer. Whereas the parents of a Georgian family had staff to look after their children and as a result did not have to worry about what they were getting up to, modern parents need to be aware of what their children are doing. Equally, modern parents with young children will want those young children to have a bedroom close to theirs, without having to sacrifice the provision of an adjacent bathroom.
To provide our clients with a clear view from the new kitchen, sited in the front room at ground floor, to the garden, we proposed an opening be formed in a structural wall, as can be seen in the images below. The opening was also proposed to allow the kitchen to be linked to a ‘day room’ where the family could spend their time in close proximity to the heart of the home, the kitchen.
The master bedroom was placed on the second floor and it was intended to situate the nursery in the adjacent room so our client could be close to their young daughter. This arrangement required a novel method for providing sanitary facilities at this level. Our solution was to install a shower ‘pod’ in the master bedroom in such a way that the original room proportion was retained as far as possible whilst still providing adequate space for sanitary facilities and storage.
Another area that required some creative thinking was the garden to the rear, which was also designed to cater for a young family whilst still working with the listed building status. We proposed a new boundary wall in facing brick to match the original wall adjacent and which took into account sound ‘Secured by Design’ principles. We proposed that a small area of lawn and deck be laid, to provide room for play and outside entertaining. To increase the available area for entertaining we proposed that an existing lightwell to the basement be covered with a metal grating such that light levels to the basement are kept as high as possible.
I hope this post has given a useful insight into how historical buildings can be brought up-to-date to meet the needs and desires of a modern family.