Yorkshire Interiors - a Victorian villa in Holmfirth

PUBLISHED: 17:42 23 November 2012 | UPDATED: 22:26 20 February 2013

Yorkshire Interiors - a Victorian villa in Holmfirth

Yorkshire Interiors - a Victorian villa in Holmfirth

Claire and Andrew Longden have extended and refurbished their Victorian home to combine original features and modern interior design, says Heather Dixon. Photographs by Colin Poole


Building supplies and floors AL Construction (Holmfirth) Ltd 07967 143311

Interior Design: Claire Longden 07917 304221

CR Interiors, Mirfield, 01924 491448 cr-interiors.co.uk

Hulsta and Bo Concept at Red Brick Mill redbrickmill.co.uk

Designers Guild designersguild.com

Osborne and Little osborneandlittle.com

Pure Design Leeds 0113 218 6490 puredesignuk.com

Yortile yortile.co.uk

Atlas Bathrooms 01484 547 110 atlasbathrooms.co.uk

Claire Longden wanted a complete lifestyle change when she and Andrew bought their Victorian villa in Holmfirth. Our previous home was very traditional with lots of pine and dark wood so when we moved here we wanted to go very modern, said Claire.

I had seen the house from the road and always liked it but it was quite a shock when we saw inside. It was very spooky and dark but the views were incredible and I could see how good it would look if it was renovated.

Both Claire and Andrew knew they were taking on a major project when they bought this house. The initial plan was to open up the ground floor by knocking through two rooms to make the most of the incredible views over looking the Holme Valley.

They were also very keen on combining all of the period features of the property with a modern lifestyle. But before any of the new work could begin the couple needed to replace the roof and make sure the property was completely watertight. Knowing the large scale of the project, the couple bought a small cottage as a stop-gap before buying a caravan and pitching camp in the front garden while the major building work was undertaken.

The couple applied for planning permission to build a three-storey extension at the back of the house and a small side extension. The three-storey extension would create a larger kitchen and utility on the ground floor, a family bathroom on the middle floor and a bigger bedroom in the attic once used as servants quarters - for their eight-year-old daughter Millie.

The single storey extension would be a dining/garden room to the side of the kitchen. The couple also knocked through between the original kitchen and sitting room to create a large open-plan through space. By converting the basement, they also created a home office and wine store.

Outside the exterior stonework was sandblasted and the doors into the double garage, which used to be to the side of the garage, were moved to the front to make access easier. The old turning area at the top of the drive was then turned into a private courtyard.

Luckily, with Andrew owning his own construction company, he could do a lot of the building work himself and Claire turned her hand to mixing cement, pulling down internal walls, stripping wallpaper and decorating.

Although their hands-on approach meant they were restricted to only weekends and evenings in between full time jobs and looking after Millie they managed to save a fortune on labour costs.

We wanted to do a good job and get it right first time, so we were determined not to rush it, said Claire. We also wanted to keep all the original features, such as deep skirting boards, sash windows, ornate coving, the original tiled floor and large fireplaces, which were all in very good condition. Although the interior would be very contemporary, we knew it would work well with the period details, explained Claire.

Once all the major structural work was finished they moved onto the top floor of the house while the lower part was still a building site and waited until all the main rooms were decorated before finally making it their home.

We finished Millies bedroom and the kitchen first so we had somewhere to sleep and eat, said Claire. We then worked methodically through the house, finishing off and decorating.

The attic area was small and only accessible by a ladder when the couple bought the house, so Andrew built a staircase off the landing into Millies bedroom. Its hard to believe that servants used to climb a ladder to sleep in a tiny little room at the top of the house, said Claire. The area where the en suite bathroom is was just a dark hole that was difficult to stand up in.

We wanted to use the space, so Andrew created more head room by lowering the ceiling of the main bedroom underneath by six inches. It was such a high ceiling that we didnt notice the difference. All the waste pipes for the en suite were taken through a purpose-built cavity behind the book shelves in Millies bedroom and then fed outside.

The new family bathroom also borrowed extra space from the utility below it.

We originally planned to have the shower where the sunken bath is and lowered the floor slightly to allow for drainage, said Claire. Then we changed our minds and put a sunken bath there instead.

Clare and Andrew made further changes by blocking up the door into a large cupboard on the landing and creating a new door off the master bedroom so they had a walk-in wardrobe, using fittings bought at auction and adapted to the space.

The existing en suite in the guest room and cloakroom below it on the ground floor were refitted to give them a much fresher, modern look.

The kitchen is Claires pride and joy. She particularly wanted a large central kitchen island unit with a clear view straight through the new open-plan sitting room to the countryside in the distance. I couldnt see the point in having fabulous views and not making the most of them, said Claire. We put the sink in the middle of the island, facing into the sitting room. It means with the new open-plan layout, that whoever is preparing a meal can still face into the space and feel part of the family.

Claire is passionate about interior design and wanted to make the best use of light and space in the large rooms. The high ceilings of the Victorian villa make each room look particularly spacious but there are enough original features to create a link between old and new.

With the extension creating a large, open plan living area, they were left with a spare room which used to be the dining room downstairs. This is now a second sitting room and play room for Millie.

I love bright, bold colours, she said. I wanted to walk into a room and think wow. Luckily, through my work, I get to see lots of fabulous, inspirational wallpapers which Ive used in the house.

Claire likes to create an accent wall and pick out the main colours in soft furnishings and accessories. Antique and modern furniture, along with bargains which have been re-invented through painting or re-covering, complete the look.

We wanted the house to be light, colourful and modern, with lots of clean lines, but still to have plenty of character, said Claire.

By adding the extension and knocking the rooms into one downstairs weve created a spacious, modern lifestyle without losing any of the buildings history. Its the perfect balance.

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