Client of the Month: Lady Louise Carr Refreshes her Victorian Richmond Home
Lady Louise-Carr was faced with a choice: update her home of almost four decades or find somewhere new. She chose to stay, and we helped her breathe new life into her cherished home.
What’s the story behind your home?
It’s a detached Victorian house in Richmond. I moved here with my husband in 1980.
Previously, it was owned by a 90-year-old woman and the house needed a major overhaul. When we moved, in there wasn’t even any electricity on the top floor, which were the old servant’s quarters.
So, we did a complete revamp of the house – new roof, new bathrooms and whatever else we could afford at the time. Then, about ten years ago, John Dyer-Grimes built our new kitchen.
Why did you feel that the time was right for a renovation?
I am in a situation in which many people might downsize, but my home holds dear memories, so I decided to stay put.
With eight grandchildren, I like having the rooms and the space for them to stay with me, and I’m often hosting friends and guests.
Having lived here almost four decades, I have a huge sentimental attachment to the surrounding area as well as the house itself.
As I had decided to stay, I wanted to give my home a complete top-to-bottom refurbishment of all services and decorations.
What were your main objectives for the renovation?
My first priority was to update all the services. Heating was very unsatisfactory. Half of the radiators didn’t work and the half that did gurgled constantly and needed to be bled all the time. The lights were equally unreliable.
As replacing the plumbing and the wiring would require digging into the walls, it was the perfect opportunity to fully redecorate as well.
Then the project expanded in scope because the more we dug back, the more problems we discovered. The floorboards were old and draughty, the ceilings required extensive, specialised repair and many of the walls needed replastering.
We also needed space for a plant room for the new services, which would be best kept out of the way in the cellar. This needed waterproofing in order for it to become a useable space.
What did you do while your house was being renovated?
I moved out and rented a house nearby. As every room was being redecorated, the entire house had be totally emptied, which was quite an operation. Completely clearing out the house has given me an opportunity to decide what I want to keep and what was just taking up space.
How did you approach a modern renovation to a period home?
It is an interesting challenge fusing the old and the new and ensuring you have the best of both. I worked closely with Jemima and her team on a complete interior design solution.
They walked and talked me through the hundreds of details which go into a renovation of this scale. It was far more than just choosing paint colours, there was a staggering amount of minutiae.
Jemima’s impeccable taste and eye for detail meant that I never felt overwhelmed, and I trusted her to fill in the blanks and guide me through the creative process.
What were some of the highlights of the interior design?
I love the two bathrooms, I think they’re fantastic. My bathroom is a mix of aquamarine herringbone tiles and gold panels, while the guest bathroom features modern, geometric black and white tiles across both walls and floor.
The dining room has been painted a lovely light pink, picked from the Victorian floor tiles just inside the front door. We were able to keep the original tiles, which have been carefully acid washed and now look brand new.
All of the other walls are a pale grey which won’t yellow with age. It was a brilliant suggestion as it seems to change colour through the day, appearing white in daylight and becoming a comfortable grey in the evening.
In the rear, the window frames, door frames and the pergola were painted black. I was quite nervous about this but John and Jemima convinced me to go for it. I’m glad I did, it’s very refreshing and I find it more suitable for a Victorian house than the same old white frames.
Finally, do you have any advice for someone considering their own home renovation project?
If you’re going to do it, it’s worth doing it properly with a team who knows what they’re doing, and you should do it all at once.
It might seem easier to upgrade a bit at a time, but you’ll never achieve a high standard across the entire house without doing a top-to-bottom refurbishment.
And when you have done it properly, it will last you a good length of time. I can relax now, knowing that I won’t have to do any major works on the house again.