Modern Homes: A Contemporary Victorian in Richmond

by Kate Burt in Interior designed homes

Giving a period property a modern look – without destroying its antique charms – is a tough feat to pull off. But the architect Richard Dickinson, who was behind the respectful renovation of this four-bedroom Victorian villa in Mount Ararat Road, Richmond, has done a stunning job.

By modifying this Victorian home’s traditional room arrangement with an open-plan layout, Dickinson – a renowned designer who worked with Richard Rogers and Norman Foster in their early years – has allowed light to flood through the interior, as well as giving the whole house a contemporary edge. White walls throughout also instantly feel modern and, with pale wooden floors and limed oak shutters and doors, the place has a sleek, minimal Scandinavian feel about it. And yet the warmth of this family home’s heritage also shines through inside and out, thanks to original marble fireplaces and traditional style radiators throughout the interior, as well as restored iron railings and cast-iron verandah on the exterior.


These key details really work with the ultra modern interior design, fittings and furniture which, without this historical context, could risk looking rather clinical.

The kitchen is a good example. I love the beautiful old bay window, flanked by that gorgeous oak and with its squat, chunky radiator: the last thing you’d expect to work with that is a sleek, contemporary glass dining table and a minimal kitchen. But it does. Not least because the clever design means that even more light gets bounce around the already super airy space. Despite the fact that this kitchen – and many of the other rooms (including two receptions and a lower ground floor potential granny flat as well as the bedrooms) are dual aspect, and so spoilt for natural light, everything here is about boosting all that light to the max. The kitchen – whose brushed steel, marble and gloss white surfaces also help to maximise the light – is by Bulthaup. And elsewhere in the house, shiny built-in cupboards, rather than a matte wall, behind the bed in the master bedroom add an expanse of light, rather than absorbing it.

It is a simple technique to steal – and one that can do wonders for light-starved, smaller spaces too. Incorporating shiny or transparent surfaces – whether it’s sleek glass, or a retro big-weave wicker chair – will instantly give you a brighter, bigger-feeling room. To retain cosyness, add layers of soft textiles – canvas, sheepskin, wool, suede – to sofas, chairs, beds and floors. Keep them different shades of white or neutral to keep things feeling airy.

And there are more clever old-versus-new touches all over this place. The open plan playroom could be straight out of a modernist Malmö apartment – and then you get the metal spiral staircase for an antique twist but, white-washed and smooth-lined, it bridges the old/new gap beautifully. Even the sharp Starck bathroom with its freestanding tub gives a discreet nod to the building’s heritage without feeling like a pastiche of the past.

This house is currently under offer via The Modern House estate agents.

Recommended Editorials