Reinventing a Victorian terrace into a home with a defined architectural character is always a challenge in a city like London where there is no shortage of old estates, many of which are the best homes in the world. However, with the help of Flower Michelin Architects and interior design practices, Salvesen Graham, Nina and Lorne Balfe found themselves the owners of a very original and deeply thoughtful family home.
We’ve rented in the same area for a few years and when this house came out on the market we fell in love with the footprint. Real estate doesn’t show up on this road very often, so I came to watch it while Lorne was working in LA, Nina explains.
“The lady who owned it lived here for 20 years, and while it was very elegant, there was a certain amount of work we knew had to be done,” she explains. “I wrote it off but texted Lorne the details and when he saw it, he loved all the nice features and he was the one who encouraged us to buy it.”
Deciding to live in the house for a year while seeking planning permission and enlisting an architect and builder, the couple quickly realized that the scale of their ambition was greater than they initially expected.
A full-length basement will be excavated with a music studio for Lorne’s work as a film composer as well as a bedroom, an additional children’s bathroom, and an expansion of the kitchen. To enable the scope of the project, the house was stripped of its shell.
“We were surprised that many of the details we liked, such as the original floorboards, weren’t practical and lost but our team felt it would be better to start from scratch,” explains Nina.
Afraid of the sheer scale of the renovation, but with strong interior design ideas, the couple engaged Salvesen Graham as an interior designer.
“Nina and Lorne asked us to take them out of their comfort zone and give them a firm hand to help them feel more confident with color and pattern,” says Nicole Salvisen. It can be difficult to continue reinventing the wheel with Victorian homes with balconies, but we found Flower Michelin Architects to be wonderful collaborators and together we were able to come up with details to make the home feel one of a kind.
With builders improving the strength of the house while adding plenty of insulation, the team found itself with a solid foundation to lay its details on.
One of Nicole’s portico ideas was to incorporate the fluted-edged ceramic wall panels into the hall, which mirror the rounded arches on the door. The decoration is repeated throughout the house including the back windows in the kitchen extension and the floor tile details.
Nicole explains, “We wanted to create a home that was classic but not a slave of the Victorian style.” “It was fun working with clients who kept pushing us to reinvent.”
Dining room ideas include lacquer elements that are essential to the space’s opulent aesthetic.
Nicole’s living room ideas include curves, from the back of the sofa to the edge of the table, to connect modern and classic elements.
The architects came up with ideas for the kitchen such as arched doors to add exciting statements.
Bathroom ideas include gold leaf wallpaper to ensure this space wows.
A mix of eclectic prints hits a casual note.
Patterned curtains add character to cabinet doors. The alcove seat is where Nina reads bedtime stories.
Fabric-clad walls are among the bedroom ideas that give this scheme a cool feel.
Marble and copper create hotel-style luxury in the master bathroom.
Shades of blue and brown combine to create an earthy feel.
The rug in the bathroom is a great contrast with the high-gloss fixtures.
With the renovation complete and the beds installed, the winter months were welcomed. “We haven’t had fires on our rental property, so we love lighting them, even in our bedroom,” says Nina. “This is a great home for entertaining, so we look forward to lots of dinner parties and a place full of guests,” she adds.
Beautifully updated and with a one-of-a-kind character, this home is sure to become a standout backdrop in the Balfe family’s life.
Interior Designer / Salvesen Graham
Architect / Flower Michelin Architects
Photography / Simon Brown
Text / Juliet Benning