victorian design

A Remarkable Victorian Revamp


An old soul reimagined

When this family made the move home to London after a stint in New York, they returned to a worn and weathered — but full of potential — Victorian home in Hampstead. Pregnant and about to pop, designer Tamzin Greenhill was sporting a super-chilled mum vibe with this renovation. And as fate would have it, her daughter decided to arrive on the exact day the builders moved in to start work on this project.

Luckily, Tamzin had been preparing for this meticulously. “The project took seven months from start to finish, which is pretty quick,” she explains. “I was there every day pushing the job along. However, we spent months before on designs and plotting how we were going to live and what it was going to look like.”

The original 975sqm, six-bedroom, two-bathroom, dingy home had been untouched in years, save for the odd lick of paint. Tamzin’s dream was to transform this old soul into a liveable, elegant family home for her, her husband John and their two young daughters. So she got hands-on. She planned every room’s layout, all the joinery, finishes and fixtures herself. She transformed the home into a workable, beautifully liveable five-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom property that capitalised on space and light with much-needed modernisation.

Tamzin says her favourite part of any project is designing the layout. “I love to create flow and make a house work. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle and a process that takes time to evolve based on practicalities and aesthetics,” she says.

Tamzin made a few changes to the original building as she felt the Victorian features were not working for the family. Starting with the removal of walls between the living and dining room, she crafted a formal living room out of the remaining space, which sat adjacent to the TV den. She then set about working on some of the original Victorian features. She removed the fireplaces, stain-glass windows and tiling over the original hallway in a move that was somewhat controversial. “It’s hard to design a room around a redundant fireplace,” she explains. “Removing these made the area feel fresher and more contemporary, which suited me and my family’s needs.”

Next, on the first floor, came John and Tamzin’s bedroom, complete with walk-through wardrobe and large master bathroom. Embracing controversy once more, Tamzin made the decision to leave a bath out of this master bathroom. She says her and her husband are both shower people, and it seemed more logical to install a large shower in the space rather than a small shower and small bath cramped in. There is, however, a bath in the family bathroom upstairs. “I never design around re-sale,” she explains. “We are the ones living here now and I doubt we wouldn’t sell our house because there isn’t a bathroom in my master bathroom.”

This master bathroom is quite the pride and joy for the homeowners now, probably largely due to the absence of a bath and the space gained instead. Tamzin goes on to explain that the space is now bright and spacious, with plenty of cupboard storage and, most importantly, it never feels cramped. She designed the vanity herself based on an image she had seen in a book. She wanted it to be modern, handleless and with soft corners. “I’m always trying to balance old and new,” she adds. “It looks like it’s floating but actually it has blackened steel legs and the bronze-framed mirrors echo the vanity’s curves.”

The second floor houses Tamzin’s daughters’ bedrooms. The bathroom sits in the middle of their two bedrooms, easily accessible from either side in a bid for innovation and convenience, and, we imagine, space saving. We know Tamzin is a big fan of saving space. She confesses she likes a clutter-free house and for this reason has fitted the home with ample bespoke storage.

While Tamzin gushes over layout and space-saving elements, we can’t help but draw attention to her impeccable eye for colour and detail. The moody dark blue/grey in the bedroom and the magnificent dark blue in the living area, offset by the snappy red in the popping lampshade, are equal measures daring and perfect.

Her carefully curated art collection and much-loved New York furniture that — luckily — slot beautifully into this modernised space show Tamzin’s talents at picking items of beauty and sophistication. And while she explains that sustainability was not a huge factor in her renovation plans, her commitment to long-lasting, timeless furniture and original artwork tells a — perhaps unintentional — story of sustainability.

Last, that master bathroom tiled floor. What a beauty! Tamzin’s own brainchild, the flooring is, what she terms, a mash-up of Moroccan design and classic monochrome crafted by an Italian company with beautiful, timeless hand-cut statuary marble.

Using exceptional design prowess and, we’re guessing, some super-mum smarts, this expert designer shows how a Victorian renovation should be done: without the rulebook but with intuition.