Rows of desirable Victorian houses line Calton Road, Dulwich Village, overlooking the green playing fields of Alleyn’s School. The Resident takes a peek around one such house, recently extended and refurbished by Holt Construction with the needs of a young family in mind
Words: Madeleine Howell
‘We have a passion for construction and design – it’s a family business,’ says Rob Holt, who set up Holt Construction with his brother James back in 2001. ‘We build and design our houses for the customer. We never work for other property developers, or for clients who are renovating with a view to putting it on the market. Our clients are always involved in the process. We build a family home that they might live in for the next 20 to 30 years.’
Calton Avenue is a case in point. ‘We worked with Maureen Diffley Architects on the property,’ Rob begins. ‘The brief was to demolish an existing extension and build a contemporary extension. It’s timber frame, and we used an installation product called Pavotherm, which is quite cutting-edge. The outer skin is brick. There’s a lot of bespoke glazing including the wrap-around roof light, which was complex because it’s pitched around a multi-degree corner.’
It’s that classic London layout, where you walk in through a Victorian house and the front half is sympathetically refurbished, in keeping with the original design with a few contemporary touches, and then you walk through to the modern rear extension
The pair also worked on the entrance hall, keeping it modern, but with a courteous nod to Victoriana. ‘We ripped up the existing flooring and sub-floor and put a new concrete slab in, and then laid over some Victorian-style tiling, which is absolutely stunning. It’s that classic London layout, where you walk in through a Victorian house and the front half is sympathetically refurbished, in keeping with the original design with a few contemporary touches, and then you walk through to the rear extension, into a very modern, lateral space with an island unit. I think a lot of people in London are very comfortable with that now.’
As well as benefitting from the spacious layout, the kitchen has lots of natural light. A sumptuous marble feature wall above a generous sink catches the eye. ‘The kitchen is by Roundhouse Kitchens, Fineline Aluminium did the glazed doors and a company called Cantifix did the roof lights,’ Rob says. ‘We created niches and fitted in bespoke joinery ourselves to match the kitchen. The pendant lighting was designed by John Cullen and we installed a top-notch Lutron lighting scheme.’
The spiral wine cellar is really cool
As if that wasn’t luxurious enough, storage space for wine is cleverly concealed under the floorboards. It’s certainly a space geared towards entertaining. ‘The spiral wine cellar is really cool,’ Rob chuckles. ‘We’ve done three of those and we’re doing another one on a separate project in Dulwich at the moment. The flooring itself is chevron, stained oak parquet from Walking on Wood, which is based on the King’s Road. The doors between the kitchen and the family room are made by Longden, who are a main player in what they do. It was tricky to get right, but they work really well.’
The garden and terrace area is also perfect for entertaining and running around. ‘The terrace at the rear makes the most of the space outside. The high level of garden originally came all the way to the back of the house, so we excavated the height from the terrace area and paved it. We got all the steps and stones made by London Stone to match. We made replicas of the outside railings to match all the other houses.
‘The overall finish is that of a contemporary, sympathetically refurbished period property that meets the demands of family living, down to the details. There’s coat hangers for each kid, and a galley for utilities tucked away.’ We love the pretty pink paisley wallpaper in one child’s bedroom, and the view out onto the balcony and the trees in the garden is delightful.
It’s fun designing with children in mind – one of the walls is painted with magnetic paint so they can pin up their pictures and homework
‘The homeowner has a really good eye for interior design, so she chose a lot of the finishes herself, like the geometric wallpaper in the playroom,’ Rob says. ‘It’s fun designing with children in mind – one of the walls is painted with magnetic paint so they can pin up their pictures and homework.
‘The great thing about Dulwich is that the houses are very big. We often install basements there – the typical client is a married couple with three or four children. Calton Avenue is one of the best streets. They’re very lucky.’
Gazing out over the green playing fields, we couldn’t agree more.