Interview with Gwen and Patricia, occupants of The Judd

We had the opportunity to interview Gwen and Patricia, the proud owners of The Judd, to gain insights into their motivations behind the transformation of their terraced property in Tottenham and their experiences of living in their newly renovated home.

Excitingly, the project has been shortlisted for this year’s British Homes Awards for Best Interior Design. Collaborating with Gwen and Patricia during the development of the interiors was an enjoyable experience, we discussed their inspirations, how they influenced our designs, and we gathered valuable recommendations for those aspiring to undertake a home transformation.

What was the biggest reason for you for doing the works in the first place?

Patricia – We spent a long, long time making a decision about whether or not we should move. And in the end, we decided that Tottenham, although it has its limitations, there were lots of reasons for us to stay; friends nearby, great transport links into central London to visit the theatre, and it was cheaper for us to stay really. 

What prompted you to think about moving, what wasn’t working for you at the time? 

Gwen – We wanted more space. I suppose on one level we weren’t using the house properly. It didn’t feel like we had enough space, and I wanted a separate space for people to visit.

Patricia – It was also the middle room, which was just a dumping ground really, we just didn’t use it. Really it was a waste of a room.

From the outset, was it a priority for you to have a house that was unique and reflected your personal style?

Patricia – Yeah, I think we thought if we were going to do it, we would stay here for a long time and we wanted something beautiful. Maybe I wouldn’t have chosen a Victorian terrace house, but within the limitations of our scope we’ve got a house now that we just love, and we say we love it every day.

Gwen – She doesn’t tell me that she loves me anymore, she just says she loves the house!

Patricia – I wanted something that was not just functional, but really lovely. So, I didn’t want bog standard. We could have got somebody to knock that wall through, but there’s no way that we could have ever got this house without having employed Bradley Van Der Straeten. That makes the house really special.

You went through a thorough process of selecting an architect, why did you choose us?

Gwen – Because we fell in love with the Ewald! We did the thing that you should do, we looked at various architect websites and then we got some quotes. I think lockdown started and we talked on zoom. Ewald was very personable and he had lots of ideas and he seemed really, really enthusiastic about the potential. We also really liked the work on your website, it wasn’t boring, all the projects were different and interesting.

Patricia – I think we were looking for somebody to work with that was exciting, that was able to create something special from something that can look pretty boring or ordinary, I mean, these terrace houses are the same, aren’t they? I like colour and you have lots of colour in your work and materials that are different. And you don’t do the same thing in every house.

If we jump forward to the design process, could you provide some insights on what it was like for you as an experience?

Gwen – It was weird because it was all on zoom. Plus, we’ve never done this sort of thing before, so we had no idea what to expect.

It was very exciting actually, because BVDS kept coming up with all these really, really interesting ideas and they were very exciting. The built project also stuck very closely to the original design. You gave us what we were looking for and you were also very willing to tweak if necessary

It’s the little details like the archway in the kitchen, it’s just fantastic and we can see it now with the light coming through exactly how you said it would. Light is different all through the day, little things like that make it really special.

If you could pick a favourite part of the house, what would it be? 

Gwen – I love the aspect downstairs, sitting here in the lounge and looking all the way into the garden. Having the big window in the garden and a big window in the kitchen

Patricia – I find it difficult to choose. I love the kitchen and the island, It’s just really beautiful. We love it. I love the loft bathroom. I also love my little sewing room, which I’m now using. I love everything I see in the house. Honestly, it is really, really hard to choose.

What is the reaction you get when visitors walk in the front door?

GwenYou know, people come through the door, and it is a bit like a Tardis. You think you’re coming to an ordinary Victorian terrace and then you walk through the door and its completely not that at all. It’s completely different. And then you walk through the glass door here and you come into this room and just go, wow. This is completely different from what you would expect from walking in off the street.

Patricia – Particularly I think because of the concrete tiles. Nobody expects those tiles. They just expect a plastered wall and they’re just so lovely. 

Gwen – I think people universally just think the whole thing is fantastic. We had a painter and decorator builder friend from Australia visit recently, who’s very, very, very picky. And he said it was really, really nice. And he never gives feedback like that. 

What is the general reaction to the pink staircase?

Gwen – People really like it. A lot of people are nervous about colour, aren’t they? The house before was mainly white or shades of white. So, I think people think we’ve been very bold, and they’ve been taken aback, but actually they really, really liked it. The one thing that Eddie (the builder) said to us was ‘paint it whatever you want, if you don’t like it, change it, because it’s easy to change the colour’ and that was really good advice because we were worried we were being a bit too bold!

On the subject of advice, if somebody else was thinking transforming their home, have you got any good advice for them?

Gwen – I think obviously you’re constrained by budget, a lot of the time, but if you’ve got the budget, do something, even if it’s one thing, that’s really special. It’s worth doing it because it can change the whole aspect of the house. I think we’re lucky we’ve got a few things that are really, really special, the concrete wall tiles, the archway, the tiling around the kitchen island for example. But if you can do one thing that’s different and unique to your home, it’s worth taking the plunge.

Was there anything through the process or even in the build that’s surprised you or exceeded expectations?

Gwen – All the lovely things. I had no idea that the wall would turn out to be so beautiful or that the archway would turn out to be so good. So, all these things I think are really special items. It’s more than exceeded our expectations. Every individual piece works well together, so that even if we only had half of them, I think we would have exceeded our expectations as it is so fantastic.

Patricia – I didn’t think we could have such a lovely house in Tottenham!

Some of your design references where quite ambitious (The Chrysler building entrance lobby, The Tate Modern), do you feel they informed the design?

Gwen – Yes, our references were pretty big spaces! But with the house, we have now got a much greater sense of space. The house feels much bigger than it did before. The footprint is pretty much the same, but it feels much, much bigger, downstairs particularly. 

Why was low energy design important to you and what is it like to live with an Air Source Heat Pump and with cork wall insulation?

Gwen – The amount of money we’re spending on energy is tiny now. It was important we should do something environmentally and we thought we should try and future proof the house. Upstairs is really warm. We’ve had days when we haven’t had the heating on at all during winter, but it warms up and the heat retains really well.

Patricia – I was very keen to do the solar panels and the air source heat pump seemed a bit like a no brainer if you can afford it, to get rid of the dependence on gas.

What difference has this project made to your life and to the way you live?

Gwen – It’s made it a place where we’re both really, really happy to spend time.

Patricia – More than before, because it’s just such a nice place to be. I love being in the kitchen. It’s even making me want to cook. I love cooking and I kind of stopped years ago but it’s such a nice space that works so well. 

The house in general is a really lovely place to be. I love that little sewing room in the back, the one with the vaulted ceiling. It’s so lovely. I’ve been spending a few days in there now and it’s just really, really nice. The little semi-circular roof shapes in the kitchen allow little beams of sunlight through, which is really lovely.

Everywhere is just beautiful. The blue bathroom upstairs is, it’s all beautiful, so you can go anywhere and just be happy where you are. There’s nothing about the house that I don’t like.


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