Design Project: This Traditional Victorian Villa Has A Modern And Colourful New Interior

This Victorian home honours its past, while incorporating a modern rear extension, contemporary blue kitchen, a new wine room and a chic new dressing room...


A Victorian villa in a South London conservation area was described by new owners as an ‘elegant wreck’ and needed total renovation and reconfiguration. Step in Clerkenwell based practice Robert Rhodes Architecture + Interiors, who tackled the project hands-on and transformed it into a modern and colourful home.

The enormous 8-bedroom Victorian villa had previously been the home of a multi-generational family. The magnitude of the property meant that even basic renovation would cost a small fortune. The task set to Robert Rhodes was simple but challenging; total renovation and reconfiguration, with new heating, plumbing and electrics, new floors, structural repairs, new joinery, new bathrooms, a music studio, a wine cellar, new sash windows, landscaping, repointing… all for less than £1000/m2. The owners also wanted a kitchen that felt like a New York loft, complete with a polished concrete floor, underfloor heating and large floor to ceiling Crittall windows. No small ask! But together with the property’s owners, the architects managed to transform this property over a four year period into the forever home it is today.

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Although the property required a lot of modernisation, the owners and designers honoured the property by preserving period features and even adding some in, like the traditional encaustic tiled floor in the hallway, and gorgeous stained glass windows in the front door. Lighting has a traditional feel too; a modest chandelier hanging from a ceiling rose.

Walls carry a neutral, stoney palette of soft greys, with a darker shade on the banister to tie in with the stair runner. Colour is subtle; pops of blue in the tiled floor, striking green and red from the stained glass window, and a trio of framed movie posters.

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Don’t be fooled by the neutral hallway, the rest of this home carries plenty of drama. A vibrant green scenic wallpaper wraps around the formal living room.

The Chinoiserie design in combination with the herringbone parquet floor and antique furnishings create an elegant and traditional atmosphere.

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A modern copper pendant light shakes things up.


Across the hallway is a cosy snug, enveloped in a cocooning inky blue. The traditional chandelier is the same as the one in the hallway, creating a cohesive look.

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The hallway leads straight to the main part of the house; a large, open-plan modern kitchen.

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Here there’s a large marble kitchen island, a dining area, and window bench seating for lounging.

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It’s a very modern space, with handleless cabinetry and smooth matte surfaces, floor to ceiling Crittall doors and windows, and polished concrete flooring.

The architects combined these modern features with traditional architectural details including finely crafted gauged arches and denticulated brickwork on the rear elevation and extension.

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A whole wall of Crittall windows frames the garden space and makes this the main focal point. The rest of the walls are decorated with framed posters and art prints.

A pair of Chinese lanterns emit a soft glow over the dining table.

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Bespoke shelving was created in the basement to turn this space into a large wine cellar.

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A funky wallpaper makes the most of a small cloakroom / loo space.

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Stained glass windows make this stairwell a bright and cheerful space.

Carpets on the landing areas are plush and cosy.

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The architects added a few fun details to the property, including a hidden “jib” door that provides access to a dressing room.

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The master bedroom was painted a teal colour, giving it a modern look.

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This space leads through to a sumptuous grey master bathroom.

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At the top of the house is a powder blue painted guest bedroom.

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A tiled shower room makes the most of an awkward sloped roof.

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Photography: James Balston

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