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Victorian Values

PUBLISHED: 17:16 09 February 2009 | UPDATED: 08:57 21 February 2013

The living room

The living room

With Leonie and Andy Bradford expecting their second child, this double-fronted Victorian house in Coggeshall proved to be their new family home

LEONIE and Andy Bradford had been looking for their ideal family house for a while when they stumbled across a double-fronted Victorian property in Coggeshall. 'The place had been lived in by the same elderly lady for the past 50 years, so it needed a fresh approach,' explains Leonie.
Although the structure needed very little work, the couple decided that a large family room at the rear of the property would work well for them, so they approached an architect who drew up some plans offering them the perfect solution.

The main alteration would be to the kitchen as Leonie had always hankered after a large family kitchen and so the wall between the old kitchen and a small conservatory was demolished to create a much larger room with the new extension built up to it giving a great area for their growing family.

'A large kitchen was always high on my agenda,' says Leonie with a smile. 'The layout we chose works really well enabling Rafferty, my son, to help with making cakes which he absolutely loves.' The new extension is entered via a couple of steps from the kitchen and looks fantastic, blending in seamlessly to the rest of the house. Most of the original exterior wall is in place, including the window recess which has been plastered up to create a look through into the next room and is the perfect place for a vase of flowers. A great feature is the arched window and French doors which add the character to pull the whole thing off while making the whole area feel light and airy. Andy even managed to design in a wooden train set for Rafferty which is concealed behind the wall and pulls out like a draw from the skirting board, and was achieved because of the addition of the steps between the rooms creating some
dead space.

'Overall the building work went very well,' says Andy. 'As with all new builds, the finished result always seems to appear a lot quicker than with renovation work, although with this project we had our fair share of both. When we bought the house we noticed that all the doors were plywood faced and presumed that each one would have been replaced. But to our enormous relief, all the doors were original but just had a plywood cover. We also made the decision to replace the top two panels of each door with toughened glass to bring more light into the rooms, which has really worked well.'

Modern undertones
A downstairs loo was squeezed in under the stairs where the old kitchen larder used to be situated, which is always a helpful addition in any family home. The living room at the front of the house has been painted in an off-white shade to keep an airy feel and to add a more modern undertone while keeping with the traditional theme the couple have gone
for throughout.
The other front reception room is used as the couple's dining room, but only tends to be used when Leonie and Andy entertain. 'We find we spend most of our time at the back of the house in the new extension,' says Leonie, 'and it is ideal when the kids have friends
over to play.'
The bathroom had to undergo a major transformation to get the amazing finish that the Bradfords have achieved. Firstly, there was a separate loo which has now been turned into a large airing cupboard, while the main bathroom had quite a large chimney breast with built-in cupboards using up a lot of space.
'Andy decided to remove the old chimney breast as it was not in use,' explains Leonie, 'which was one of the messiest jobs we did with years of soot creating zero visibility.'

Finishing touches
With the area gutted back, Andy had to rebuild the walls, which was done using studwork and they were able to gain a much more usable room with a shower and the roll top bath they chose. The couple wanted to maintain a traditional feel with all their paintwork and found the colours they were after, with lots of emphasis on the green shades.

'Green has to be my favourite colour,' says Leonie. It appears in many different shades around my home. I particularly like the dusty old tones and I think they complement the style of the house so well.'

The only exception to the painted walls was to be in the master bedroom with the introduction of wallpaper. 'I love Laura Ashley,' says Leonie.
'I used some amazing wallpaper in my bedroom to give a romantic feel
and opted for this lovely pastel print which I dressed up with tiny glass beads glued to the centre of each flower on the print, and the painted wooden furniture adds the softness to the room I was looking for.'
So, like the whole house, it has all come together perfectly.

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