We're always delighted when we find an interesting house renovation project in our in-box. This stunning house built in 1782 in a Georgian Crescent in Bath was sent to us by Claire Rendall interiors and of course we couldn't wait to find out more.
1. What was the client brief?
The house when it was bought was a classic “how not to treat a historic property,” so the brief was to bring it back to life. As many people do, the house had been hermetically sealed and was suffering badly as a result. All the fireplaces were blocked up, synthetic fitted carpets clung to every room. All walls were covered with wood-chip wallpaper and painted, secondary double glazing panels covered all of the windows. Plastic shuttering attempted to keep water out of the basement but merely kept any damp in.
All the pretty plasterwork was thick with many years of paint.
2. What improvements have you made?
The first thing was to allow the house to breath. Soggy fitted carpets were removed. Secondary double glazing panels were taken out and windows rehung. Bricks were removed from the fireplaces and the basement plastic panels were removed. Rain water could now get in but most importantly it could escape too. We fitted an Aga in the basement kitchen and this encouraged air to circulate. Suddenly the house felt drier. It’s really important to think about how these houses were built and lived in. Unfortunately, in the 1960’s and 70’s the onus was on keeping moisture out and as a result a lot was trapped in. Now we understand the sense of breathable materials such as lime plaster and natural fibres for carpets.
3. What was the budget roughly?
4. What aspect of the renovation are you most happy with?
It was a totally joy to reveal the delicate plaster mouldings. I tend not to get so upset now when I see plasterwork caked in paint because I know its protecting it. When we took the paint off the plasterwork was as crisp as the day it was fitted. We also stripped the thick gloss paint that was under the stair carpet revealing the beautiful original oak staircase, and when the spindles on the top floor were cleaned of years of thick chipped paint, I noticed that they were different sizes. I suspect that many parts of the house were recycled when it was built in the 1780’s. Certainly many of the timber beams in the basement had plugged holes showing that they had been used before, possibly as ships timbers or in other houses. I just love imagining where they had been.
5. Where do you get your inspiration from?
For this house, I wanted it to recapture its personality. An intimate Georgian House. It had a gentleness so I used soft duck egg blues, rich Indian rugs and French linen sheets for curtains.
6. What has been the clients' reaction to the finished project?
Thrilled. It’s always lovely to find a dejected property and bring it to life. In many ways the transformation is more acute and therefore impressive.