Renovated Victorian flat for Art Deco ceramics collectors

Feb 5, 2019

Work carried-out: A Listed Building Consent was submitted for some changes to internal room arrangements on the top floor of this mid-19th Century building.   The progress of the work depended on negotiations with the Conservation Officer, Building Control and the Managing Agents.   There was a negotiated contract with a builder and separately with both a joinery company, for the many bespoke hand-made furniture items that they provided, and a home automation company.

Project description: The brief was to reconfigure the existing accommodation to make it a two Bedroom flat with En-suites, Living / Dining Room, Media Room, enlarged Kitchen and Utility Room, Office and Store.   Two addresses had been converted into flats in the 1920’s and throughout the building were references to this era.   The clients collect ceramics – primarily tea and coffee sets from the 1930’s which they wanted to display well along with paintings and framed prints.   They also have lots of books and are very interested in art and architecture in particular.   A dedicated room for enjoying TV, movies and music was also important.

Apart from various structural repairs needed in the roof and insulation, uncovering a hidden window and replacing all the other windows like for like, a complete re-plumb and re-wire (including a home automation system) the flat had various issues with leaks and damp penetration and earlier attempts to resolve this had not been successful, so a special ventilated cavity system which was used on all external walls.   This was integrated with specially designed room joinery with a deco feel so that ventilation slots were well-disguised.   This treatment was extended to cornices and door mouldings to integrate the look and feel.   Colours were chosen from a particular colour study by early 2oth century artist Ozenfant to produce a serene and relaxed set of interiors.   The blue matches the sky on a sunny day and the mauve grey colour in the Media Room resonates with the slate roofs opposite.

The main furniture items were designed and then with the Specialist Joiner the further detail was developed, leading onto manufacture and installation to a very high standard.   The Master Bedroom wardrobes and Living / Dining Room display cabinets had references to a 1930’s ocean liner liner whilst the office had a more modern Memphis style.   The Master En-suite was lined with Carrara marble and the smaller one fully tiled.

Contractor: Pat Plumstead

Specialist Joinery: Workhaus

Home Automation: PowerPlant

David Kemp and the whole DKA team enthusiastically stuck with our project from first concepts through to redesigning the custom picture rail hooks afterwards. From the overall concept to the minutest detail, DKA proposed, interacted, reworked and supported great outcomes throughout what, at times, was a very challenging build. We assembled the team of builder and contractors DKA proposed and DKA then worked closely with these highly skilled and design-committed people – always in close alignment with us as client. Our flat, at the top of a late Georgian terrace had not had serious care for over 50 years. It was also void of original 19th Century features. Complete re-plumbing and rewiring were essential, but first there needed to be an overall total rethink; electrics were aligned with 21st Century electronics, waste pipes were reconfigured, rooms reconfigured, and a fundamental problem solved. One example illustrates the breadth of requirements DKA confronted and solved: fixing the damp of external walls. Ranging through restoring the fundamental fabric of the building to the most precise design detail of the new finish; external damp was cleverly eliminated with a modern membrane system and, at the same time, a total reworking of the decaying hotch-potch of styles of skirting, picture rails and cornices turned a practical solution into a beautiful and consistent design throughout. The design also disguised the venting system (thus the need for special picture rail hooks). We could go into similar detail on many other project areas from the reinforcement of the roof to stabilising ceilings to the careful location of the in-ceiling lighting. Each required interaction between architect, client, builder and contractors. As the build progressed, and the build progressed, and the builder (Pat Plumstead) and contractors came to the fore, DKA receded to a support role, but one where David Kemp was always ready to constructively join a client/builder/architect site meeting to solve a problem, propose or refine a clever design twist. Because there was a plan, and a teamwork approach with the client, builder and specialist contractors, we didn’t chop and change or fall out with each other. The final result is a beautiful and subtle Art Deco-themed whole (with a dash of Memphis spice) that is loyal to its early 20th Century conversion to a flat, yet enhances the conservation of a late Georgian building – and also delivers 21st century “smart living”.


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