Enjoy a tour of this stunning, sympathetically renovated Victorian semi in Surrey

The interior is a dreamy vision of cohesive colour throughout
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  • Past meets present perfectly in this seven-bedroom Victorian semi in Dorking, Surrey. The homeowners have sympathetically updated their Victorian house, avoiding period pastiche and working in contemporary elements without destroying its character.

    Another inspirational home: Step inside a renovated Victorian house – with secret den hidden behind a door in the bookcase!

    ‘We adored this house from the moment we walked in,’ says the owner. ‘We’d been looking for a while, as we were expecting our second son and running out of space. This house was much larger, and the beautifully-proportioned rooms and period features were fabulous.’

    ‘There was work to be done, though. The interior was all dated creams and yellows. And although the house was habitable, the kitchen was small and rickety. The roof, windows and guttering needed redoing, and there was a decrepit, leaky conservatory at the back.’ Top of their wishlist was a light-flooded, open-plan family kitchen and living area, and once they had sorted out the structural issues, they were eager to push on and bring their vision to life.

    Sympathetically renovated Victorian semi in Surrey

    Large kitchen wooden cabinets white metro wall tiles and glass pendants above island

    Image credit: Brent Darby

    ‘A couple of years in, and just before our third son was born, we began a massive, 15-month renovation project. We decamped to the top of the house and turned a spare bedroom into a living room. The timing wasn’t ideal; there were masses of decisions to make, and juggling family life with dust and mess was pretty stressful. That said, we were excited about our plans and enjoyed the process.’

    Bedrooms and bathrooms were updated alongside new heating and wiring. Walls came down, uneven floors were levelled, and the conservatory was rebuilt to form an open kitchen, dining room and sitting area.

    ‘We’d never attempted a project on this scale before, but I wouldn’t change anything about the end result. We spend most of our time in the new kitchen-living area and it’s lovely for entertaining, so that makes this a great Christmas house, too.’


    kitchen with open plan living space

    Image credit: Brent Darby

    Who wouldn’t want to prepare a Christmas feast from this incredible kitchen space?

    ‘We’ve run a parquet floor through the kitchen and living room. We felt the house deserved traditionally-laid, solid oak blocks and we wanted plenty of visible knots to give it authentic character.’

    Open-plan dining area

    open-plan kitchen dining area with glass roof

    Image credit: Brent Darby

    The dream now a reality. ‘The new conservatory is based on the original Victorian design. For continuity, the frame is painted the same colour as the hall – a warm, dark grey that works anywhere’ says the homeowner. The frames are painted in Noble Grey Eggshell by Dulux.

    ‘The kitchen floor was dug level with the conservatory, for a seamless flow, and we chose concrete and parquet floors to mix tones and textures. The island has a concrete surface, too. It has become scratched; but it doesn’t have to be perfect!’

    dining table with blue glass cabinet

    Image credit: Brent Darby

    ‘We’ve highlighted the period features, but we also love industrial materials like concrete, metal, glass and natural wood. With the decor, the style is timeless but there’s always a contemporary edge to it’.


    Blue hallway with tiled floor and Christmas tree

    Image credit: Brent Darby 

    This homeowner runs an interiors business sandrockhouse.com – you can tell there’s a eye for design in this stunning family home.

    ‘It was important to restore the house sensitively, so finding modern floor tiles for the hall that matched the original Victorian design in the porch was brilliant.’
    Buy the tiles: Norfolk mosaic floor tiles, £344.35 sq m, London Mosaic.

    blue and white hallway with patterned tile floor

    Image credit: Brent Darby

    ‘My painted gold stair runner was supposed to be a temporary replacement for the worn-out carpet, but I love it so much I’ve continued it across the landing. It’s glamorous and durable; even with three boys, there’s not a scratch.’ Just one of many style tips to take away from this house.

    Living room

    blue living room with grey button back sofas

    Image credit: Brent Darby

    ‘This is where we relax with music or a film, so the dark blue walls and comfy sofas make it cosy. I like the character and warmth of wood, so we’ve left the original pine floor.’

    blue living room with log burner

    ‘I started with pale grey in here,’ the homeowner explains. ‘But it felt bland so I added the gorgeous wallpaper to draw attention to the log burner.’

    ‘Using a lot of colour can make designing a room hard work. My palette is restrained, as it’s easier to create interest with bold accessories and statement furniture’

    Buy now: Cole and Son Fornasetti Nuvolette wallpaper, £300 a roll, John Lewis & Partners

    Blue decorated christmas tree

    Image credit: Brent Darby

    ‘I don’t use a lot of colour, but blues are a definite thread running through my house’ says the owner. ‘Turquoise is my go-to Christmas accent, as it sits well with white and silver.’

    Master bedroom

    Blue bedroom with cloud wallpaper

    Image credit: Brent Darby

    ‘We removed old-fashioned fitted wardrobes and pinched space from the next-door bedroom. Which freed up the alcoves for beautiful wallpaper and an antique dressing table.’
    The wallpaper is the same as used in the living room.

    freestanding bath

    Image credit: Brent Darby

    ‘We didn’t have space for the dressing room and en suite we wanted, so we treated ourselves to a bath in the bedroom instead.’ A very happy compromise.

    Boys’ bedroom

    Image credit: Brent Darby

    ‘We wanted a wood feature in the boys’ room, so we used discarded pallets to panel the wall for a cabin feel. Then found the bunk beds on eBay and the boys keep their books in the step drawers.’

    The refurbished planks were simply sanded and treated with a protective oil, before being fixed securely to the wall.

    Related: Brilliant boys’ bedroom design ideas for every style

    ‘We were determined to renovate the house sympathetically and I love everything we’ve done to it’ says the homeowner proudly – and rightly so. This house is simply stunning.

    This house originally appeared in the December 2020 issue of Ideal Home. Original feature by Annabelle Grundy, styling by Gemma Gear

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