5 invaluable design lessons from a festive Edwardian home renovation


If you are renovating a period property like a Victorian or Edwardian house, you are probably struggling to strike a balance between creating a modern and practical family home and preserving all of those wonderful period features. It can be difficult knowing how to design a space that matches your tastes and the times of the house. If this sounds like you, fear not – we’ve got a home tour that will inspire you to make a statement and bring your old home to life.

Aysha Rahman and her husband Ali wanted to do something different when it came to expanding their house – a magnificent Edwardian construction. After living there for 13 years, focusing on improving the quality of the home for them and their three children, they wanted to make bigger changes. “The kitchen was converted into a kitchen, with steps leading up to a morning room,” Aysha explains. “The space was really uncomfortable and cold. We’ve been living with this for a while, but we’re a big family, and when we’re all together, everyone wants to hang out in the kitchen. We wanted a space where we could all socialize together.

The couple worked with James of architectural design and renovation company Model Projects to bring their ambitious plan for a new, sociable space to life. Read on to find out the top five things we learned from them to make home renovations a success.

Edwardian living room with neutral walls, dark green painted open shelves in the alcove, pink sofa and armchair, chandelier and Christmas wreath above the fireplace

Painted cupboards Studio Vert, Farrow & Ball. Ground, Woodpecker. Pink sofa, To cure. Pink armchair, Made. Carpet, French connection. Chandelier, John Lewis & Associates. Low table, Atkin & Thyme

(Image credit: Chris Snook)

1. Big projects come with compromises


The owners Aysha Rahman, a full time mom (@aysha_interiors), her husband Ali, vice president of an IT company, and their children Taseen, Ilyas and Zahir
The property A three bed Victorian terrace in North London
Project cost £ 150,000

High on the wish list for Aysha and Ali was height and lots of glazing, as well as handy additions like a utility and dining area towards the middle of the house. However, it took a few attempts to arrive at this design, in part due to planning issues.

“We wanted the extension to be tilted, but the board wanted something more traditional,” says Aysha. “We also had to watch out for the neighbors, as this could affect the planning as well. We ended up designing an L-shaped addition to make sure it didn’t go up to the neighboring wall, rather than crisscrossing the entire space. We’ve lost a bit of space, but it actually defines the areas of the room much better that way.

Hallway with original tiled floor, blue painted staircase with striped runner and Crital style interior doors to the living room

Chandelier, French connection. Glass doors, Sanctuary of Fabco. Stair runner, Roger oates

(Image credit: Chris Snook)

2. Living can be relatively painless

Thanks to great builders, Aysha and Ali found life during construction relatively without drama. “We didn’t have the budget to move and rent – and anyway, we preferred to invest the money in the house,” says Aysha. “As a patio with no side access it could have been a nightmare, but the builders got on the stairs and gave us a new front door so we could live above the mess.”

The builders also installed a dishwasher in the bathroom. “They really put us at ease,” adds Aysha. “Everything went well, although the project took longer than expected – 10 months instead of the original five or six.”

Open concept rear extension with Crittal style bay window, comfortable space, gray Shaker style kitchen and black island, skylights and pendant lights and industrial style bar stools

Food, Neptune; painted driftwood units and charcoal island, both from the Neptune brand. Work plans, The marble group. Skylights, Velux. Bar stools, Ebay. Pendants, Etsy. Dining Chairs, HK alive. Steel doors, Sanctuary of Fabco

(Image credit: Chris Snook)

3. Keep a constant eye on your wish list

The design of the house evolved as Aysha saw new things that she liked, but a certain theme was always at the forefront of her mind. “I love the Parisian vibe – courtyard gardens, black steel balconies,” she says. “We didn’t want folding doors because we wanted impact with full height glazing. I came across Fabco Sanctuary and loved the Crittal style doors – they are French doors on a more modern scale. Doors used to be one of the most expensive parts of the build, but they have such an impact on space.

For the kitchen, the couple opted for a Shaker style to complement the era of the property. “It adds character and provides a nice contrast to industrial doors,” says Aysha. “I didn’t want the styling to be too powerful, so I kept the units neutral so they almost disappeared into the wall. The island is blue for contrast – it is the most dominant part of the space. ‘

Gray Shaker-style laundry room behind pocket door

retractable door, LPD. Mirror, Wayfair. Cabinetmaking, Howdens. Tiles, Earth on fire

(Image credit: Chris Snook)

4. Learn from the mistakes of others

Aysha had seen other renovations on the road and noticed that the front of the house rarely flowed with the back – a design mistake she was keen to avoid. “There had to be continuity back and forth,” she said. “I was following someone on Instagram who had French Crital style doors in their living room, and that gave me the idea.”

The couple had originally planned to install double doors in the living room, but opted to replace the entire wall between it and the hallway with glass instead to maximize light and create a bond with the back. “We checked that everything would be structurally sound, and then we took the plunge,” adds Aysha. “When the doors are closed, they block out more sound than you might think, so it looks like a private space, but it’s still visually connected.”

Neutral peach bedroom with wood and glass wardrobe, bohemian bedding and bay window with white shutters

Bed, John Lewis & Associates. For a similar wall color, try Dusty rose lick

(Image credit: Chris Snook)

5. Small adjustments make a huge difference

While the kitchen was the couple’s biggest project, the rest of the house has been transformed in small steps. The hallway gained an additional square meter during the renovation, so the couple had to source some salvaged tiles to match the originals. A utility room off the kitchen is separated from the main space by a nifty pocket door, which lets light into an otherwise dark pocket in the house.

The family bathroom, previously two spaces with a toilet separate from the sink and tub, has been merged into one, with a double sink, contemporary freestanding bathtub and walk-in shower adding a sense of luxury. The master bedroom features soft, earthy colors – although it is “not finished at all,” Aysha adds.

Dark blue vanity unit with two sinks, brass fittings, brass mirrors and pastel green subway tiles in a herringbone pattern

Washbasin cabinet, Harvey george, painted in Railing, Farrow & Ball. Marble counter, Granite Direct. Handles, Anthropology. Brewery, T Patton. Mirrors, Made. Suspended luminaires, Not in the main street. Wall tiles, Earth on fire

(Image credit: Chris Snook)

After a half-hearted Christmas last year, Aysha can’t wait to properly host this time around. “We had a pre-lockdown family reunion last year, but I’m looking forward to lots of Christmas dinners,” she says. “We open all the doors and the whole space below becomes one. It makes a huge difference in the way we live now.


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