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View: Grid List
Interiors Residential Retrofit
< £1m
Creativity Context
London Borough of Lambeth
Carol Costello
Sparrow Building Ltd, Rise Structures, NRG Consulting

A Victorian terraced house in Brixton has been reconfigured and renovated to meet the needs of a growing family – and also to provide a bright backdrop for the client’s artwork. Light filled spaces have been opened up; another bedroom added in a new loft conversion; and a remedy found for persistent damp. The result is a unique contemporary home – but one that retains much of its original character. 

Artist's House, Brixton

Dusk view of renovated kitchen from the rear garden.

The Victorian terraced house in Brixton had been the family’s home for 12 years. Rather than move from a well-loved house and neighbourhood as their children grew, the clients asked us to create a spacious, warm, energy efficient home.

Downstairs, spaces have been opened up – bringing in light and reconnecting the house to the garden. Upstairs, remodelled bedrooms, bathroom and shower room – and a new loft conversion – are carefully planned to meet the demands of family life.

The renovations have an undeniably contemporary feel – composed of steel, concrete, smoked oak flooring, and rough plaster walls – but old and new are finely balanced so that the house’s original character is not lost.


The challenge was to create more space for a growing family – but also to show the client’s artwork to best effect – without detracting from the charm of a Victorian terraced house. And all within a limited budget.

Ingenuity was needed to create a sense of light and space within the narrow plan of the house. The ground floor was opened up – allowing dual aspect views to the outside from the living room. Large sliding doors in the entrance hall provide glimpses into the garden. And large patio doors from the kitchen also help bring house and garden together.

Upstairs, bedroom and study spaces have been remodelled, with a new family bathroom and shower room. The shower room – with lemon yellow tiles – borrows light from the bathroom through a large opaque sheet of glass. Separate entrances to each allow both to be used during peak hours.

A simple material palette, exploiting the special quality of natural or exposed finishes, playfully balances old and new – and meets the brief for a more contemporary home in a Victorian house.

A consistent language of steel, concrete and smoked solid oak flooring is used, with rough plaster feature walls to the loft stairwell and the larger first floor bedroom. The existing chimney in the living room has been restored – but is now set off by a concrete hearth.

Exploded axonometric section


Damp had long been a problem. This was tackled by using innovative natural materials to insulate walls and prevent build up of condensation. Calsitherm is a breathable insulation that allows moisture to pass through and evaporate, rather than being trapped in an ‘unbreathable’ insulation – a common problem when insulating solid brick walls in older buildings.  

The existing steel kitchen was re-used, but with a new floor – Mapei Ultratop screed with anthracite polished concrete finish – with underfloor heating. The result is an industrial feel.

A steel WC and black basin inject a touch of quirkiness in a compact below stairs WC behind a pocket door.

The new loft conversion is reached by a bespoke folded metal staircase - a slim 6mm mild steel was chosen in order to make the cramped stairwell feel as open as possible.

A large lightwell at the top of the stairwell brings light into this tight, internal space. And the loft’s large windows maximise light and views out to sky and gardens. Outside, the loft cladding is standing seam zinc rainscreen by VMzinc, with the seams carefully set out to complement the new window composition.

Also bespoke are the oak joinery of the storage space and a built-in bed that makes clever use of the change in floor level created by increased ceiling heights in the bathroom below. 

"We are enjoying the house so much that Chris now works from home two or three days a week. Rather than a house built for a Victorian family, with seven kids in one room, our home serves modern family needs and habits. We finally have a space that suits the way we live and move around. Selfishness is quite well executed in this house!"