Clifton Hill


Australians Grant and Cheryl dreamed of owning a historic home in London with a sweeping staircase and elegant rooms for entertaining.

They bought a derelict, listed house in St. John’s Wood which they planned to restore to its former glory, whilst staying true to their Australian roots by opening up the back of the house to the garden for barbecues.


English Heritage and Westminster Conservation officers were traditionally against modern extensions to listed houses in this area and preferred small scale traditional timber doors and windows.

Little or no maintenance work had been carried out on the house for over 35 years which meant that all the windows and floors were badly rotten. There was also evidence of unchecked subsidence throughout.

The existing basement consisted of poorly laid out, small, dark rooms which were cut off from the garden and other livings spaces. A large proportion of the garden was taken up with a garage and its paved driveway.

And to top it all, they had to face the complex VAT issues associated with Listed Buildings – and a legal boundary and easement dispute with the adjoining owner.


Dyer Grimes Architects were able to negotiate the planning permission needed to demolish the basement walls, construct a modern glass extension and to reinstate the garden.

We installed floor-to -ceiling glass stacking doors, running the full width of the house and a 16m2 glass roof-light to flood the house with light.

We carried out a number of radical structural layout changes, replacing existing internal walls with modern steelwork throughout. This enabled us to link together previously cramped and dark living spaces to create one magnificent open space kitchen and dining area flowing into the garden.

The building fabric was stripped back to its basic shell, most of the timberwork floors, stairs and windows were replaced. New waterproofing was installed in the basement and the house was fully underpinned to stabilize against subsidence.

Working with our VAT specialist we were able to ensure the client only paid 5% VAT on the building works for the whole project. Furthermore, our detailed knowledge of Land Law and Covenants led to successful negotiation with neighbours to set new boundaries and maximise the size of the garden.


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