The founder of The Hou_se Julia Wetzel kindly invited us into her home to show us the results of her South London property renovations, transforming a drab, tired space into a light and contemporary one for her family. Julia and her husband have created beautiful home that has a conscious design flow as well as character throughout. Check out the before and after transformation.
Julia’s husband worked as a carpenter in New Zealand, which along with her own background working for Tom Dixon explains the beautiful bespoke wooden staircase you experience adjacent to one of the first rooms you enter, the open dining room. The pair once lived in New Zealand, which was a big influence when it came to the design “we both always loved the very natural look of New Zealand beach houses and the use of natural materials” along with drawing from design blogs and fairs.
Transforming what was an outdated 1970’s terrace into a stylish home has been a huge triumph for Julia and her husband. Alongside completing all works the pair had a toddler to look after, Julia was also pregnant throughout and so the true success came from project management, allowing them to finish the bulk of the work before their son was born “It feels immensely satisfying to see all our hard work pay off and have a space that we designed ourselves and that now works for our family.”
When it came to project managing one of the biggest areas Julia recommends starting with is budget, by planning ahead and getting quotes for everything from the services to finishes being the main factor. Also by being realistic from the off you will save time later “I started off with a massive wish list, including beautiful finishes for power sockets and light switches and in the end it wasn't in our budget and I was over making decisions. Focus on the things that really matter to you and that you use and touch every day.” Alongside this cost saving where it matters less “We went with a wall hung toilet for the main bathroom but a standard one for the second bathroom for example which was a massive money saver.” Julia also suggested living in the space before it’s finished “you'll work out how you live in the house and use your spaces which will influence design decisions. Don't lose sleep over things like paint colours, go with what you love at the moment and your gut instinct, cosmetic things like that can easily be changed.”
Any home renovator will tell you that it’s a learning process, and this was no different for the Wetzel’s. One of the biggest discoveries was undertaking the administrative side of things and prep work prior to install with “nothing ever running 100% smoothly and most things taking longer than anticipated.” There was also a lot of patience involved living amongst dust and boxes, which was understandably an incredibly frustrating process if not a worthwhile one.
Despite the property being narrow in form, as a whole it is light and spacious. This is helped by bifold doors leading into the front garden, extending the liveable space and allowing for a lot of sun and natural light throughout. Julia commented that her favourite time of day is “either early morning when it's all still quiet and I enjoy my first coffee or late afternoon on a sunny day.” This doesn’t surprise us at all!
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Julia with her family, during the final chapter of the renovations
Words by Joseph Walker