Having bought a Grade II-listed former lace factory in north Essex, and determined to turn the oak-framed property into a proper family home fit for modern living, Poppy faced one or two challenges. Not least was the discovery that the house had no foundations (in common with many old houses in the country). And there was not a straight line in the property. And, to top it all, insulation had never been thought of.
Poppy believed in the project wholeheartedly, even so. Her husband, Harry, was just as enthusiastic.
She did have one huge advantage when starting the project. Her mother is a seasoned interior designer who instinctively understood the couple’s preferred style. Poppy, who studied interior design at KLC, also brought her own creative vision to the scheme. So they never had to deal with the risk many homeowners face when choosing a designer without the kind of help that RedBook offers, of finding out too late their taste is swamped by the designer’s own vision or is at odds.
The different trades who worked on Poppy’s project collaborated brilliantly, and she regards this as a key element in the project’s success, as well as one of the aspects of the whole process she enjoyed most. It made her realise the importance of having the right team in place to deliver a project efficiently.
“I was lucky in many ways with my project, having my mother’s help and a brilliant team working on the house. But it still made me see how much of an advantage it is to have RedBook’s input at the start of a project.“
“It is about really understanding what you are taking on with the project and having an expert sounding board to analyse costs and the skillsets of the designers and architects you need, as well as ensuring you have truly compatible builders.“
Looking back on her project, Poppy still finds it hard to believe that this once-neglected 18th-century workshop is now a warm, inviting home.
“The house chose us. As we walked in, it felt like nothing we’d ever seen. It was apparent a lot of work needed to be done, but I knew this would be our home. The effort and the investment have been absolutely worth it.”
Zahra, an experienced architect, began the refurbishment of her Grade II-listed flat in South Kensington three years ago, shortly before joining RedBook, and fearlessly took on the role not only of architect but also interior designer and project manager. In the early stages of the project, she was faced with securing listed building consent, managing a licence to alter and selecting builders all while working full-time.
“Doing your own project, and doing it entirely on your own, amplifies the challenges of every decision,” she recalls.
When it came to selecting a builder, Zahra was not exactly spoiled for choice. Only one trusted builder was recommended to her, so there was no way for her to compare this builder’s price with another to ensure she was getting a fair deal, and she had to fall in with the builder’s own timeline for starting the project.
Reflecting on this now, she sees all too clearly the benefits of having access to the broad pool of vetted and verified contractors that RedBook offers its clients.
Amid all the hurdles of her project, Zahra found great solace in collaborating with a landscape designer. Together, they transformed the flat’s barren terrace into a blossoming haven that changes with the seasons.
“I decided to work with a landscape designer because, honestly, I had no idea about plants. While I had a vision for the layout, colours, and themes, my knowledge about landscaping was limited.”
…It’s similar to our clients who approach us without architectural or interior design expertise. Collaborating with specialists ensures you’re in the best hands.“
Philip’s journey began with a leap of faith when he and his wife, Chloe, were looking for a home. ‘An exciting project for a keen investor or developer,’ was the brief description of a flat they noticed was for sale in the right area of Dulwich. There were no photos or details. But Philip is an experienced architect and his interest was piqued.
As soon as he set eyes on the property, he immediately saw potential in the space, which boasted beautiful crittall windows, great light and panoramic views of London.
Having bought the flat, Philip and Chloe decided to strip it back to its bare bones, installing new electrics and plumbing, and completely redecorating, setting themselves a tight four-month timeline for completion. Chloe played a crucial part, complementing Philip’s professional perspective with her own viewpoint as the ‘client’, and helping build a great working relationship with their contractors.
The challenges of working with the Dulwich Estate, owner of the freehold, to obtain a licence to alter the property gave him first-hand insight into the legal complexities of a project.
Keeping within budget was essential, and strategic decision-making that focussed on high-cost elements such as finishes in the bathroom and kitchen, allowed Philip and Chloe to stay on target.
From his professional perspective, one of the unexpected outcomes of the project for Philip was a newfound appreciation for interior design.
“As an architect, I learned how difficult it is to get the interiors right. It is an aspect of the project that is too easily underestimated. But above all the whole process has deepened my empathy for clients and the stresses they go through.”
And in the end the experience of refurbishing the flat only encouraged him: he and Chloe are now about to start on a second and much larger project at their new house in Dulwich.
What drives Philip to take on a new challenge like this, when he and Chloe have hands full at home with two full-time jobs and their baby daughter to look after? “I always seek to personalise my home and make it truly my own. You can only do that with a space you can put your mark on,” he explains.
RedBook acts as a Project Guardian, offering clients expert guidance at the outset of their project, along with introductions to the ideal design- and delivery professionals, and support through to the end of their project. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you are considering a project in the UK or abroad – firstname.lastname@example.org.