Julie and her husband Chris bought the house just under five years ago. Julie explains, “We’d lived in this area for quite some time and were more than happy here, but we had aspirations to find a new home which would offer plenty of space, more privacy and most important to us, amazing views over the beautiful Surrey Hills. With such a specific search our choices were quite limited but when this large 1930’s home came on the market we arranged a viewing and were wowed.
“The interior was extremely dated, most of it dating back to the 1970’s. That wasn’t important to us though, it was the location and views that made us fall in love with the home immediately. There would be a lot of work ahead of us to make the house how we wanted it, but the stunning views and privacy were exactly what we had dreamed of.”
Originally built in the 1930’s the home is situated on an elevated position on the side of the Surrey Hills with views stretching as far as the south coast, and with 18-acres of land the couple would also have the peace and privacy they wanted to find from their new home.
Inside the property still maintained its original layout with five large reception rooms on the ground floor, all very separate and disjointed, and upstairs five bedrooms and three bathrooms that were also desperately in need of updating. Adding to the space was a separate and very run-down stable block.
“We knew there was an immense amount of work ahead of us but the one thing that didn’t need fixing was the location and the stunning views so that would keep us going.”
The first step in the journey was to upgrade the old stable block so the couple could move in here and be on-site to project manage the major work in the main home. “My husband and I were planning on being very hands-on with the design and build, project managing as much as possible, so rather than rent away from the house being able to move into the renovated stable would be ideal. We quickly converted it into a cosy and bright out-house with a lovely bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living space.”
The couple spent over two years planning the transformation of the main house. “By the time we had finished working out our perfect layout it meant pretty much all of the interior ground floor walls would be going, so we got an architect involved to plan for this and all the required steel work. Our intention was to turn the disjointed and closed off rooms into three main zones within the house that would flow naturally. We referred to them as the bright and light open plan kitchen area to one side of the house, the dark and moody middle zone and the original oak formal living room area to the other side.”
These terms reflected the couple’s intention for the interior design of these three areas, and in particular the flooring. With building work underway by local contract Reilly Construction, they started their search for the all important flooring.
“The original oak area was taken care of as this term had come from the original herringbone oak floors that we planned on keeping here. While they were old we could see that with re-sanding and new oils they would look beautiful in the space, and we liked the idea of contrasting this light oak floor finish with poured polished concrete floors in the rest of the downstairs. As we started looking into this option though all the advice we were given was against choosing this floor finish for a whole host of reasons. We kind of parked flooring for the rest of the downstairs for the short-term and started to think about choosing wood floors for the bedrooms.”
The couple spent considerable time working with a stair designer to create the perfect staircase. “It would be such a feature in the home and as we were adding a loft extension to create a new master bedroom for us that spans the footprint of the home we wanted the stairs to be a modern and striking link to all three floors.
“We eventually chose a clear glass design so the natural light and views out would not be obstructed by any materials or balustrades. For the steps themselves we kept them very natural with a simple oak finish completed in a raw Osmo oil to take them back to an even lighter tone. We actually used this same oil finish on the original herringbone floors so they both take on a very similar natural and light oak tone.”
When it came to choosing wood floors for the bedrooms the couple’s original aspirations were starting to be hit by the build budget. “We knew we wanted a uniform wood floor finish throughout all of the five bedrooms on the first floor. We liked the idea that if you stood on the landing and all the doors were open you would see the same floor finish in each room. We had chosen a higher priced wood floor but with budget in mind we asked the V4 team for their suggestions on lower priced alternatives.
“They showed us the Vittoria collection which still offered a high quality oak floor but at a slightly lower price point. We loved the Vittoria Oak Smoked Brushed and Lacquered finish, and actually preferred these floors to our original choice. Because they offered random board sizes it not only created a much more natural installation affect, but also reduced wastage as the different plank lengths made installation really versatile. They also had such a lovely warm tone and naturally aged feel about them.”
The final flooring decision was for the new master bedroom they had created in the loft. “We wanted something really warm and cosy up here. The room would get heaps of natural light from the large dormer windows we were adding and we wanted to contrast that with a darker floor. We originally looked at a walnut wood floor as a lot of our bedroom furniture was walnut but eventually went with Urban Nature Tannery Brown… the perfect warm and rustic finish we had in mind.”
The finished home is dressed with a lot of the couple’s original pieces. “We had quite a lot of eclectic pieces and we were keen to re-use them where we could. Before the renovation started they all looked a bit jumbled in the home but we up-cycled and re-upholstered items as we started to pair them with the different zones in the house and they now all seem to naturally fit in the different spaces we chose for them. We had so many much loved items and we were so keen to find a place for them rather than buy everything new. It keeps our character in the home and fits in with the overall design so well.”
The final surface design touch in the home that the couple were inspired to add after visiting V4 World were the wood feature walls. “I’d seen the Panneau wooden wall panel collection in the showroom, and while I loved the Cask finish I had kind-of by-passed them as it wasn’t something we had planned for the home’s design. However when the wall was partially taken down to open up our formal living room where the herringbone floors are we sourced a new double sided fire to go where the old fireplace was. With this all in situe the fireplace just seemed too big and dominating so we had the brainwave to clad these walls in the Cask finish to soften the wall and add some depth and texture in the room. It works perfectly and I love telling people the recycled nature of the wood, having been made from re-purposed ancient wine barrels.”
The renovation was completed in an impressive ten months. “We moved back into the main house just a couple of weeks ago and have to say all of the hard work and careful planning of both the layout and interior design was well worth it. We’re thrilled with all of the flooring. The downstairs has underfloor heating and you can’t beat the surprisingly soft feel of the Concreate floors underfoot, especially when this is turned on.
“Our plan to have different areas which naturally connect but have their own feel and personality has worked so well and the flooring and wall design has played a huge part in that. It’s a large house, but it now feels so well connected, welcoming and homely with a lovely flow that always has a focus on the surrounding views. The help from the V4 team every step of the way was fantastic, and they certainly introduced us to products we might not have thought of, but now the home is finished they really do all combine beautifully. We couldn’t be happier.”