A Victorian Apartment - Quality Décor

We were contacted by a gentleman who was looking for a decorator to come and look at a large Victorian apartment in Reigate. I told him that we would be very happy to come and see him. I could feel excitement starting to take hold as he spoke of a large gothic staircase and grand rooms with high ceilings!

We were quite overwhelmed when we first visited the property, as we had not taken on a project of this size before.

The building had originally been a large Victorian house, which for modern living would be far too large, so was converted in to four apartments. The client had just purchased the first floor apartment, which was accessed by a large glass entrance porch enclosing the huge Victorian front door.

This opened onto the impressive hallway. The most amazing sight when entering was the spectacular Gothic staircase and stained glass windows. The apartment covered the entire first floor of the building and had a host of wonderful Victorian features, such as lofty ceilings with a beautiful cornice, panelling, mouldings and of course the fireplaces.

However, having just taken possession of the property, there were several things that the clients wanted to change and as we were invited to look around, it became clear that there was lots of work required.

As we started discussing plans for their new home, it was apparent that they already had ideas about what they would like done. The gentleman had a great deal of knowledge about design and wanted a contractor who could work with them on all levels.

The client wanted to paint out the dark brown varnish in the hall on the banisters and ceiling. It was very oppressive and covered a large area. We agreed that it would be difficult to live with and painting it would transform the feel of the entrance, making it more welcoming. As we walked around the property, several plans were discussed and we gave some suggestions which seemed to help inspire them.

The first part of the project was to remove the dining room wall which created a larger area needed for the dining table and chairs, and this also it made the landing double-aspect. This required re-plastering the ceiling. At the same time, we sourced and fitted new fibrous plaster ceiling centres for the dining room and also for the living room.

The decoration of the staircase proved to be a real challenge. Firstly the height of the ceiling from the ground floor was 6.95m! Secondly, the stone framed stained glass window needed protection. We used 3m masking film for this. The handrail needed to be stripped of several layers of varnish first, which took several days. This was then carefully masked up. We then contacted Dulux Select decorator Tony Pearson-Young to ask if he was available to sub-contract for a week. Spraying was the perfect technique for painting the intricate fretwork detail on the banisters and ceiling cornice.

As the wood had never been filled, every knot, blemish and gap showed, so it required a great deal of filling and mastic prior to applying the eggshell, which was done by brush.

When the masking film was removed from the large stained glass window, we suggested painting the white frame in a gunmetal colour to enhance the beauty of the stained glass. This made an enormous difference to the whole look. It gave the appearance of a more substantial frame and worked better with the stone surround.

At this point, colours were being chosen. The client was rather confused, she knew the look that she wanted but was not sure how to achieve it. We supplied some sample colours and a decision was made which proved to be a great success and this colour was used in most of the principle rooms as it worked well with the furniture and features throughout.

Seeing the staircase transformed, the clients were eager to move forward with the rest of the project so the large bedrooms were both finished in the same colour as the staircase area.

The living room ceiling was a massive problem. It had to be stripped and the lathe and plaster was very badly cracked. We suggested using Mavv fibre paper to hold the ceiling together.

The walls were painted in the same shade as the other rooms which gave a feeling of calm when walking from room to room.

The walls and ceiling of the kitchen were both painted in an off-white colour to enhance the clean lines of the modern kitchen fittings.

During this time, a few final details were finished in the hallway. In the entrance lobby, a block stone effect was created on the walls, which paid homage to the grandness of the staircase beyond. The fireplace in the hallway which was originally a black satin finish, was painted out in a base colour then a stone finish was created, both of these complement the stone window surround. Lastly, new hearths were cut and fitted for the fireplaces.

The bathrooms were still to be re-fitted and there was a small room created by partitioning off the larger en-suite bathroom.

The small room was painted in the client’s choice of colours to make a cheerful room for the grandchildren when they came to stay.

The bathrooms were painted in a cool blue, in contrast to the warm, earthy colours of the tiles.

The desired effect was achieved. A period home suited to contemporary living, using a calm, relaxed colour scheme that complements the furniture and fittings.

 

The walls were painted in the same shade as the other rooms which gave a feeling of calm when walking from room to room.
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