Visit a classic Victorian home with an unexpected interior

Reinventing a Victorian terrace into a home with a defining architectural style is always a challenge in a city like London where there is no shortage of period properties, many of which are the best houses in the world. Yet with the help of Flower Michelin Architects and interior design firm Salvesen Graham, Nina and Lorne Balfe found themselves the owners of a highly original and deeply regarded family home.

“We had rented in the same area for a few years and when this house came on the market we fell in love with the footprint. Properties on this road don’t show up very often so I came to see it while Lorne used to work in LA,” Nina explains.

“The lady who owned it had lived here for 20 years and although it was very stylish, there was a certain amount of work that we knew would have to be done,” she explains. “I wrote it down but sent the details to Lorne and when he saw it he loved all the nice features and he was the one who encouraged us to buy it.”

Deciding to live in the house for a year while planning permission was applied for and with an architect and builder signed up, the couple quickly realized the scale of their ambition was greater than they had originally anticipated. .

A basement complete with a music studio for Lorne’s work as a film composer would be dug along with the addition of an additional bedroom and bathroom for the children and the extension of the kitchen . To allow the scope of the project, the house was stripped back to its shell.

“We were surprised that many details we liked, such as the original boards, were impractical and were lost, but our team felt it was better to start from scratch,” says Nina.

Intimidated by the scale of the renovation, but with strong interior design ideas, the couple hired Salvesen Graham as interior decorators.


foyer with fluted edge wall panels, bright orange artwork, console table and patterned floor

(Image credit: Simon Brown)

“Nina and Lorne asked us to take them out of their comfort zone and give them a hand to help them feel more comfortable with colors and patterns,” says Nicole Salvesen. “It can be difficult to keep reinventing the wheel with Victorian townhouses, but we found Flower Michelin Architects to be great collaborators and together we were able to find details to make the house unique.”

With the builders improving the strength of the house while adding a lot of insulation, the team ended up with a solid base on which to layer their details.

One of Nicole’s hallway ideas was to incorporate fluted edge ceramic wall panels in the hall, which mirror the round arches of the doorway. The pattern is repeated throughout the house, including the rear windows of the kitchen extension and the detailing of the floor tiles.

Dining room

turquoise dining room with white fireplace, red circular table and brown leather dining chairs

(Image credit: Simon Brown)

“We wanted to create a classic house but not a slave to the Victorian style,” says Nicole. “It was fun working with clients who constantly pushed us to reinvent ourselves.”

Dining room ideas include lacquered elements which are essential to the lavish aesthetic of the space.


cream living room with cream sofas and multicolored artwork and blue coffee table

(Image credit: Simon Brown)

Nicole’s living room ideas include curves, from the back of the sofa to the edge of the table, to tie modern and classic elements together.


off-white kitchen with island, marble work surfaces, arched doors and wooden floor

(Image credit: Simon Brown)

Architects came up with kitchen ideas such as arched doorways to add dramatic statements.

Basement bathroom

bathroom with gold leaf wallpaper, green ceiling and black marble sink

(Image credit: Simon Brown)

Bathroom ideas include gold leaf wallpaper to ensure this space impresses.

Girl’s room

nursery with a mix of eclectic prints and a statement headboard

(Image credit: Simon Brown)

A mix of eclectic prints gives an informal note.

gray cabinets with built-in seat and plaid curtains in the nursery

(Image credit: Simon Brown)

Plaid curtains add character to closet doors. The alcove seat is where Nina reads bedtime stories.

master bedroom

neutral bedroom with bed with gray headboard and patterned sofa bed

(Image credit: Simon Brown)

Fabric-covered walls are one of the bedroom ideas that give this scheme a cozy feel.

Main bathroom

marble and brass bathroom with shower cubicle and freestanding bathtub

(Image credit: Simon Brown)

Marble and brass create hotel-style luxury in the master bath.


blue and brown patterned twin bedroom with fern wallpaper

(Image credit: Simon Brown)

Shades of blue and brown combine for a grounded feel.


neutral bathroom with traditional style curved sink, gold towel radiator and marble

(Image credit: Simon Brown)

The bathroom rug contrasts sharply with the very glamorous furnishings.

With the renovation complete and the family settled in, the winter months were greeted with relish. “We didn’t have fires in our rental building, so we like to have them on, even in our bedroom,” says Nina. “It’s such a big house for entertaining, so we look forward to lots of dinner parties and the place being full of guests,” she adds.

So beautifully modernized and with such a unique character, it is certain that this house will become a defining backdrop in the life of the Balfe family.

Interior designer / Salvesen Graham

Architect/ Flower Michelin Architects

Photography/Simon Brown

Text/ Juliet Benning

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