Jane Merrylees succinctly explains that ‘clever buildings do not happen by accident’, and this statement is evident in the innovative and considered design strategies employed in this Brighton renovation. The client brief was to transform a Victorian-era home into a more spacious family residence, that could adapt to the needs of the residents as their lifestyles shifted over time.
Unlike many renovations which start from a deficit model, the bones of the original home were loved by the owners, and the layout was functional and well proportioned. This meant minimal intervention into the existing house – the architects retained the front rooms, bedroom, study and bathroom, bringing light into the home with carefully placed skylights, and adding a few modest upgrades, such as a small concealed ensuite.
Previous renovations at the rear of the home had left a series of ‘lean-to additions’ that created a ‘dark and disjointed layout’ Jane explains. ‘The brief was to open up the rear, creating a bright open plan living space, with ample storage and utility areas for day-to-day convenience’ she explains. The design response offers a ‘mud room’ with large storage lockers for each family member, laundry and wine store. All bases are covered in this space, with the flexibility to adapt toy storage into a study zone in the future.
The owners love the of the original property also informed the material selections for the renovation, as Jane describes ‘they wanted the new addition to have a strong connection to the home they fell in love with.’ The main-road facing Victorian brick façade had previously been concealed under a dull-cream render. The architects reversed this overlay, to reveal red bricks in excellent condition. In transforming the home to its ‘former glory’, the architects were also able to create a powerful material connection between old and new.
The internal spaces are equally considered. Internal steel framed doors and a shift from timber to concrete flooring offer a material threshold between the original home and new addition. The soft blue colour palette sits against light timber joinery to create a tranquil and peaceful interior.
The true success of the home is summed up by its occupants, who proclaimed to the architects ‘you’ll be wheeling me out on a stretcher’ soon after moving in. It is difficult to think of higher praise !