How boutique architects Russian For Fish turned a damp terrace into a spectacular modern home

Nilesh Shah

This property in Kensal Green had been empty for a while when we were approached to work on it, and it was looking a bit sad.

The couple that had bought it were both graphic designers and they had very specific ideas about what they wanted out of the renovation. The property was very typical of this type of Victorian building, and it had an existing extension with a utility-room to the rear, leaving very little garden space.

There were serious issues with damp and poor drainage, so we demolished the extension altogether and created an open-plan living space that flows right from the kitchen to the courtyard space we created at the rear.

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As the building wasn’t listed or in a conservation area, we only needed planning permission for the exterior work, which was a relatively smooth process. One interesting thing was the extension could have restricted light to the neighbouring property, so we made a joint planning application with the neighbour to create what’s essentially a mirror-image of this on his side, which meant we had a little more height to work with when it came to the skylight you can see in the top-left of the above photograph.

We needed to completely re-wire and re-plumb, so to keep costs down we painted the existing pine floor-boards and used inexpensive commercial brick paving to line the patio.

Everything was finished in less than six months, even including a change of plan mid-way through that required a new planning application. The result is a light and modern family home that makes maximum use of the relatively small amount of space.

Russian For Fish is an award-winning architecture firm available for both residential and commercial projects. Go to or call 020 7739 4442.