Lucinda, a spatial designer, and husband Peter Williams, who’s an IT consultant, live in this semi-detached Edwardian house in Cheltenham, built in 1902. Their home features a sitting room, kitchen/dining room, utility, cloakroom, five bedrooms and three bedrooms. While expecting the arrival of their second daughter Ellie, Peter and Lucinda looked to buy a larger family home not too far from the station, as Peter commutes to work. That was eleven years ago. ‘We both love Cheltenham and we were both drawn to this house because of its quiet location in a cul de sac,’ says Lucinda. ‘We overlook a small piece of woodland, and we are conveniently close to shops and good restaurants.’ A period property with potential to expand, it had the classic side return, traditional layout and a small town garden.
Trained as a spatial designer, Lucinda says that changing the house layout at some stage in the future had remained a plan in her mind for eight years and was ‘a project in the making,’ – as the children grew up the old layout ceased to work for them. ‘The rooms were disjointed, broken up by corridors with lots of wasted space,’ she says.
So despite the fact that Peter was perfectly content with the traditional layout, Lucinda put her professional talents to work and three years on, the house is now a different place. Peter and the children are the first to admit how delighted they are with the results. ‘My intention was to create large open spaces, so instead of four small rooms spread over two levels, we now have a large light filled kitchen with separate utility room and a fairly large sitting room, which we never had before,’ says Lucinda.
With her background in design, Lucinda possesses what she describes as an eclectic style with a passion for iconic designs and industrial lighting. ‘The latter probably appeals to the architect side of my nature,’ says Lucinda. She says she was greatly helped by a local shop owner, who stocked lots of the kind of furniture she likes, who had a habit of allowing her to take things home ‘to see if they grew on her.’ In this way she acquired a bright red sofa, which initially she felt would be too garish but worked; and an armchair upholstered in vintage Union Jack flags, chandelier and several other quirky pieces.
She also was helped by a clever carpenter, Mike Geagan who had the bright idea of making replica cladding for the old pine staircase to match the new oak wooden floor in the hall. The main building contractor who is also an amazing carpenter, built shelves in a typically neglected spot under the stairs. He also made the wall of shelving in the sitting room. Lucinda particularly enjoys the contrast between the luxurious cosiness of this sitting room, with its velvet upholstery and a crystal chandelier with the sleek, clean lines of the new kitchen extension.
‘My top tip is to live in a house for a while before you decide on what to change. It should be a natural process,’ says Lucinda. ‘And always invest in good taps – often the equipment is sound and a change of taps is all it needs!’ ‘My favourite feature is the daylight in the kitchen. It is like living outside with all the comforts of indoors.’
Throughout the house, the walls are decorated with beautiful works of art, produced by her mother and daughter. ‘My mother is very clever and always been a forerunner,’ says Lucinda. ‘For instance for Ellie’s 18th birthday, she painted a photograph abstract called “Ellie’s cakes” because Ellie is a born baker. The large canvas in the kitchen is another of her works. Paintings and art work are such important visually stimulating ingredients.’
Fortunately Peter and Lucinda share the same taste, and although she runs big purchases by him, most of the pieces were sourced by her. ‘Good things turn up for those who wait,’ she says. ‘If I shop with too much impatience the right piece often eludes me. But then suddenly I come across just the right thing when I am not particularly looking for it.’
Lucinda’s final plans for the house, include a revamp on a remaining bathroom, a small study and she says she has big plans for the garden. ‘I long to have an outdoor sitting room,’ she says, ‘but meanwhile we are all so content with our newly extended home. It has proved such a fantastic space to live in and in which to entertain friends and family.’
Words adapted from Maggie Colvin. Photos: Nicholas Yarsley
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