The home’s owners, Simon and Clemmie Hooper, moved into the 1890’s home located in Kent in 2018, and although the previous owners had done a great job in completing major works to transform it from a commercial building into a residence, they knew there was potential to improve the property further to create their long term family home.
Simon explains, “The previous owners had updated the property with a view to it being Airbnb accommodation, so while it offered fantastic space and maintained its original Victorian character, there was still scope to continue the renovation and turn it into a coherent family home for us, plus add our own personal design stamp.”
One of the first projects the couple completed was the renovation of their main living room and family kitchen, choosing Zigzag Frozen Umber for the floor finish in these spaces. Some months later they started planning work on the upstairs spaces.
“Having completed most of the downstairs we had a little break before thinking about what we could do to improve the first floor. We were looking to update our master bedroom, adding an en-suite from what had previously been a small step down dressing room, as well as finally upgrading our twins bedroom. We also wanted to create a lovely guest room and made the decision to convert a large bathroom that just didn’t work for us as a family of six into an adjoining en-suite and dressing room.”
With reconfiguration plans decided work began and the couple started to think about the interior décor for the upgraded bedrooms.
“Although we wanted each room to have its own look and feel, we did want to find some common design themes that would tie the first floor all together and provide a natural flow from one room to the next. The flooring, and the way in which it was laid, would be key in achieving this, so we decided to start looking at flooring first.
“We looked at a number of material options for upstairs but quickly decided on wood. We love the real wood finish we have downstairs; it has such a natural warmth and feels really soft underfoot. We decided it would be in-keeping with the house to continue with a wood floor finish upstairs and we also loved the fact that wood would be so much easier to keep clean. It just felt like a more healthy and hygienic choice than carpet for the bedrooms.”
“We’d been so happy with our V4 Zigzag floors we decided to head back to the V4 collections to see if there would be something just right for upstairs. We wanted a plank style to enhance the flow and space of each room and felt that something with a lot of character would be perfect to suit the home’s Victorian features and some of the new décor we had in mind for the bedrooms.
“We finally decided on Urban Nature Foundry Steel. As all of the rooms have high ceilings and lots of natural light the darker oak tones would work really well to provide a contrast. The rustic nature of the boards also portrays a naturally aged feel so they would also be a bit more forgiving with four young kids running around, and work perfectly with some of the aged features in the rooms.”
Decision made Simon contacted local carpentry firm, Kempwood Carpentry, who had previously completed their kitchen install and some dressing room cabinetry, to see if they could help with the flooring installation.
The team were happy to help, installing Urban Nature Foundry Steel in the three bedrooms,new dressing room and landing. “The guys were able to install the new floors over the original floor boards. To ensure a secure base the original boards were screwed down and realigned where needed and a floor liner with sound proofing was placed down before our new floors were laid on top.”
All of the planks are installed to follow the same orientation, helping achieve a continuous and seamless transition throughout the first floor. Removing room to room breaks also makes the floors feel more akin to original floor boards, and with their rustic surface finish they fit naturally into the style of the home combining effortlessly with the original fireplaces and cornice detailing found in each of the bedrooms.
“The whole upstairs project took about seven months, including the new bathrooms and reconfiguration work. It wasn’t easy to live around as we lived in the house during all of the work. My wife hates dust, but the fact is you can’t escape dust when undertaking work so it’s something you just have to deal with. Our clothes where all on mobile clothes rails and covered in bin bags for months. We also slept in different rooms as the various trades moved around. I think our four young girls just saw it as a bit of an adventure luckily.
“We sought solace from all of the messy work to turn our attention to the interior design finishes. It gave us something less dusty to focus on and we were really excited to plan how each of the rooms would come together in their own right.
“For our master bedroom we kept things quite neutral introducing soft pastels into the design. We really wanted this room to be a calm retreat for the end of our busy days. The walls are Farrow & Ball Cromarty, a lovely muted green grey, and we combined this with Setting Plaster on all the wood work to add some dusty pink tones.
“All of the colours in this room combine with the darker oak floors so naturally, maintaining that overall sense of calm. The wood floors extend to the steps that lead down to our new en-suite to keep that continuous flow we wanted.”
For the guest room the couple went with a more dramatic but still cosy feel. “We really wanted to do something a little bit different in this space and when we found the Divine Savages Deco Martini Blush wallpaper that really set the tone for the rest of the room’s décor. We combined this with Farrow & Ball Stiffkey Blue on all the wood work and upper wall detailing.”
And the couple’s twin girls now have a playful but sophisticated space to grow into. The walls have been finished in Sanderson’s Rose Ash which combines with the warmer soft grey browns of Farrow & Ball’s Mouse’s Back. A playful feature wall adds some fun with Wild Hearts Wonder FAWNA wallpaper in blush pink which picks up the tones of the paint colours and wood flooring beautifully.
With the project now complete the whole family agree it was worth the disruption and they are delighted this next phase of their home renovation is complete.
“If you asked us what we love about the finished spaces we’d have to say everything. The original rooms had some wonderful traditional features, and we feel that with the changes we’ve made we have enhanced them and breathed new life into each room.
“From a family perspective we finally have a master bedroom that we can call our own and is a private space away from the children. Having a beautiful en-suite which the kids don’t use is also a real luxury that we definitely don’t take for granted.
“The twins have a room that they love too which means they play happily and keep the mess and destruction in one place which for us is a lot easier to manage – although it would be nice if they helped to clear up in there now and again.
“We’re really proud of the guest room. The wallpaper is powerful and brings real character to a room that’s flooded with light. Everyone that’s stayed here comments on how wonderful it is and it makes us especially happy that all the work and design planning is appreciated by others.
“Living with real wood floors in the bedroom and landing is just lovely. You can’t get a more natural floor finish and the darker rustic tones fit perfectly with all of the décor we have added. I think choosing something darker made it easier to find colours that blend and contrast, rather than clash. They also feel so much more hygienic than having something like carpet as they are so easy to keep clean. You know there are no nasties lurking in the floors where the children sleep, dress and play.”
“They are definitely proving hard wearing, but we are also always reminding the girls to be careful with the floors, and all the new dressings, so everything gets looked after nicely. With a bit of care we’re confident the floors will continue to look as good as they did the day they were installed. Their natural aged character not only works so well to suit the home, but I’m sure will also prove to be very forgiving. We’re absolutely delighted with them.”
You can read the design story of Zigzag Frozen Umber featuring in their kitchen and living room design here.