Interior stylist JP de la Chaumette shares his personal renovation tips.
Being able to re-imagine and visualise a space really helps the renovation process. JP’s original home had four strangely configured bedrooms, but he needed only two. He left what was the main bedroom untouched and decided to turn the remaining three poky, interleading bedrooms into a master suite by converting the first bedroom into a combined dressing room and study through which you access the actual bedroom. He enlarged the doorway between these two spaces and added architraves to match those in the rest of the home. The third bedroom is now an en-suite bathroom. Dreary metal window frames were replaced with salvaged sash windows, a change that immediately gave the space a sense of provenance. Next JP banished the oppressive feeling created by the dark wooden ceilings by painting them white. These relatively simple changes transformed a warren of dark rooms into a spacious, light and airy master suite.
THE LIVING SPACE
The layout of the home appealed to JP, so instead of opting for a contemporary open-plan living, dining and kitchen area, he kept the original room arrangement. By simply widening the doorway between the living and dining rooms to fit salvaged double doors, he introduced a more modern flow to the space. He had a similar set of doors made for the doorway to the veranda – the only other structural change in this part of the house.
Screed floors fitted perfectly with the country vibe he was after, and preferring a more rustic look, JP purposely omitted skirting. For the same reason he kept the conduits between the lights and their switches exposed (he did, however, have the wiring to the plug points chased into the wall). The result is that it still feels like an old farmhouse, and is the perfect place for his collection of inherited and found furniture. ‘This house has been great to display all the stuff I’ve been collecting for years.’
JP kept the original layout of separate loo and bathroom, but to make space for a shower he moved the basin into the adjoining passage. All the fittings, including the old metal window, were removed and replaced with a reclaimed freestanding ball-and-claw bath that was re-enamelled and now takes centre stage in front of the new sash window. By adding a marble top to the little table next to the bath he was able to glam up the room a little. For the shower fittings JP asked a plumber to connect a shower head he found in a pawn shop with Victorian-style taps using copper piping that was left exposed for an old-school look. Instead of plastering entire walls with tiles, JP used bevelled white Metro tiles only in those areas that are likely to get wet – in the shower, around the bath and above the hand basin. They can also be found in the kitchen, where they act as a splashback behind the stove and the lab sinks in the scullery.
The kitchen is a small room with a chimney breast, three doorways and a long window, so it involved some careful planning. ‘I wanted everything to have legs,’ JP explains. ‘Everything needed to be lifted off the ground to make the room feel bigger.’ The chimney breast was an original architectural feature that he liked, so he kept it, and he positioned the fridge, dishwasher and microwave in the space where the stove once was.
JP’s approach to renovating a kitchen is, ‘Rather use high-end appliances while skimping on things such as cabinetry: a cupboard can be made to look great with an expensive-looking stone counter top and nice handles, but a good appliance that looks and performs beautifully is irreplaceable.’ It goes without saying that JP bought a top-end gas-and-electric combination stove. To replace the dated built-in cabinetry, he refitted and re-imagined several small units. For the scullery area a simple pine butcher’s block was painted and finished with a marble counter top through which holes for plumbing were carefully added. In keeping with the period look JP was after, he had two salvaged laboratory sinks re-enamelled and found a second-hand brass tap to match.
This article was originally featured in the July 2012 Renovations issue of House & Leisure. Get our latest July 2013 Renovations issue – on sale now!