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Victorian Secrets

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Have you ever walked past a house on your way to work and thought, Wouldn’t it be nice to live there. Artist Judith Brenner did. But unlike most of us, Judith loved the house so much that, in July 2002, she and her husband, Jonathan, took things a step further by phoning the owners and making an offer. Before they knew it, the Brenners were holding the keys to the front door, and moving their three young children into the double-fronted Victorian in Richmond, just outside of London.
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  Have you ever walked past a house on your way to work and thought, Wouldn’t it be nice to live there? Artist Judith Brenner did. But unlike most of us, Judith loved the house so much that, in July 2002, she and her husband, Jonathan, took things a step further by phoning the owners and making an offer. Before they knew it, the Brenners were holding the keys to the front door, and moving their three young children into the double-fronted Victorian in Richmond, just outside of London.  Photo by: Richard Powers
    Have you ever walked past a house on your way to work and thought, Wouldn’t it be nice to live there? Artist Judith Brenner did. But unlike most of us, Judith loved the house so much that, in July 2002, she and her husband, Jonathan, took things a step further by phoning the owners and making an offer. Before they knew it, the Brenners were holding the keys to the front door, and moving their three young children into the double-fronted Victorian in Richmond, just outside of London.

    Photo by: Richard Powers

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  Phillips retained the old-world charm of original features like the black-and-white floor tiles (seen here in the entryway) and views of the garden from the front door.  Photo by: Richard Powers
    Phillips retained the old-world charm of original features like the black-and-white floor tiles (seen here in the entryway) and views of the garden from the front door.

    Photo by: Richard Powers

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  Architect Gregory Phillips connected the original house to a new modern extension that doesn’t interfere with the surrounding houses. “I try to be true to the location,”he explains, “so it doesn’t seem like some spaceship has landed.”  Photo by: Richard Powers
    Architect Gregory Phillips connected the original house to a new modern extension that doesn’t interfere with the surrounding houses. “I try to be true to the location,”he explains, “so it doesn’t seem like some spaceship has landed.”

    Photo by: Richard Powers

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  The kids’ rooms were designed to let the littlest Brenners express their own tastes. “When designing you need to accommodate lots of functions, from piano lessons to just hanging out,” says Phillips. “A house should have all the elements that allow you to relax.”  Photo by: Richard Powers
    The kids’ rooms were designed to let the littlest Brenners express their own tastes. “When designing you need to accommodate lots of functions, from piano lessons to just hanging out,” says Phillips. “A house should have all the elements that allow you to relax.”

    Photo by: Richard Powers

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  The new space was conceived as a blank canvas so that the decidedly nontraditional English garden—a large lawn bordered by exotic palms, bamboos, ferns, and other flamboyant foliage inspired by a recent holiday to Australia—could be the focal point. The minimalist dining table, benches, and stools are by e15.  Photo by: Richard Powers
    The new space was conceived as a blank canvas so that the decidedly nontraditional English garden—a large lawn bordered by exotic palms, bamboos, ferns, and other flamboyant foliage inspired by a recent holiday to Australia—could be the focal point. The minimalist dining table, benches, and stools are by e15.

    Photo by: Richard Powers

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  To avoid formality, Phillips created a different environment for each room. The kitchen, for example, is understated by virtue of its simple cabinetry by Boffi, and its white walls that flow with the rest of the house. “What we love about living here,” says Judith, “is that it works well with our young family. There is plenty of daylight, all the latest technology, and 
we don’t have to worry about sticky fingers destroying anything.”  Photo by: Richard Powers
    To avoid formality, Phillips created a different environment for each room. The kitchen, for example, is understated by virtue of its simple cabinetry by Boffi, and its white walls that flow with the rest of the house. “What we love about living here,” says Judith, “is that it works well with our young family. There is plenty of daylight, all the latest technology, and we don’t have to worry about sticky fingers destroying anything.”

    Photo by: Richard Powers

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  “I like the idea of houses having layers,” says Phillips, who incorporated the home’s strong traditional features into his design. He kept the formal dining room, for example, which is divided from the kitchen by an elegant cabinet displaying colorful glass vases, but also created a more casual dining environment in the new extension.  Photo by: Richard Powers
    “I like the idea of houses having layers,” says Phillips, who incorporated the home’s strong traditional features into his design. He kept the formal dining room, for example, which is divided from the kitchen by an elegant cabinet displaying colorful glass vases, but also created a more casual dining environment in the new extension.

    Photo by: Richard Powers

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  Phillips designed Judith a stark white, glass-fronted art studio.  Photo by: Richard Powers
    Phillips designed Judith a stark white, glass-fronted art studio.

    Photo by: Richard Powers

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  The interior of the new glazed extension. “It’s great to have a space where I can be visually stimulated,” says Judith.  Photo by: Richard Powers
    The interior of the new glazed extension. “It’s great to have a space where I can be visually stimulated,” says Judith.

    Photo by: Richard Powers

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  New residential buildings are few and far between in England, so architects like Phillips have increasingly been charged with creating groundbreaking modern environments within the shells of historic houses. “People just find it easier to work within existing houses to transform them to be sleek, stylish and functional,” says Phillips. “Extensions have almost become a requirement for any homeowner who wants to be a part of modern living within the U.K.”  Photo by: Richard Powers
    New residential buildings are few and far between in England, so architects like Phillips have increasingly been charged with creating groundbreaking modern environments within the shells of historic houses. “People just find it easier to work within existing houses to transform them to be sleek, stylish and functional,” says Phillips. “Extensions have almost become a requirement for any homeowner who wants to be a part of modern living within the U.K.”

    Photo by: Richard Powers

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