How Dyer-Grimes Architecture Saved Siobhan from a Defective Smart Home System

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Planning approval in Hampstead

Siobhan and her family had found a home that ticked all their boxes: a short walk from Hampstead Heath with plenty of space and a lush garden. She thought all it would need was a bit of redecorating, until the house started behaving with a mind of its own…

What’s the story behind your home?

We had just moved back to London from Geneva when we bought this house in Hampstead. It all looked fine at first but of course it was only once we moved in that we discovered everything that was wrong with it.

There was some general disrepair and a few elements of the decoration we wanted to change, but by far the worst thing was a faulty smart home system that turned our home into a haunted house.

Lights, the sound system, the television, they would all turn on and off seemingly at will. If we turned on the light in the dining room it would turn on the light upstairs, while the hall lights wouldn’t switch off at all.

Worst of all, my bedroom light and my son’s bedroom light would turn on and off together, so if he came home late at night I’d be woken up too. It was all a bit spooky!

We were at our wit’s end. Luckily, my husband had been following the DGA blog so we got in touch to ask what could be done to make our home sane again.

What brief did you give the team?

Through talking to John Dyer-Grimes and the electrical consultants we worked with it became clear that all the old electronics would have to be switched out and replaced with an entirely new design.

This would require a lot of digging into walls and under floors, so we decided this would be the perfect opportunity to redecorate the house as well to bring it more in line with our tastes.

Our house was only built 30 years ago but was already dated due to its very 80s aesthetic, with lots of heavy dark wood for the window frames, floors and decking, plus a very dark, square, masculine kitchen.

It made what is quite a well proportioned house feel a bit cramped and oppressive, so our brief to John Dyer-Grimes was for a much more bright and welcoming style throughout.

This photo of the kitchen window prior to the project shows how oppressive and dark the old window frames were. This window has since been replaced with a single pane, providing panoramic garden views.

What were your experiences with the building process?

John Rookyard took over the project and Galowers were appointed as the contractor, and they were absolutely amazing. Communication was brilliant throughout, they followed up on everything and were great at making suggestions and finding solutions to little issues.

Because we had moved out of the house while the works were going on it was very reassuring to have John Rookyard there looking after the project. We had renovated three houses before and built our home in Geneva from scratch, so we knew the importance of having a good team.

Usually building works can be a nightmare and very stressful, but having DGA on board removed all of that. If Galowers ever had an issue, they would go to John first, who would resolve it without us ever needing to know.

It’s been a difficult year for us, we’ve had a family bereavement and I’ve been away a lot. The only thing I haven’t had to stress about was the building work!

What is your home like now?

We kept the interior very simple, it’s almost all white or very light colours throughout, and the floors have been sanded and varnished in a lighter colour.

The biggest change is in the kitchen. We completely redid everything there with a new Martin Moore kitchen, which somehow looks more contemporary despite being more traditional in aesthetic.

There was window in there before, divided into four panels with dark frames, which made it look far smaller than it was. We’ve replaced that with one big picture window, which has brought in so much light and a lovely view to the garden.

Before, the kitchen was this dark pit at the end of the house that you didn’t want to spend time in unless you had to, but now it’s a space I actually enjoy sitting in.

Oh, and I’m happy to report our smart home is actually smart now. All the lights work as expected, I can control it all from my phone and my son doesn’t have to worry about waking me up in the early hours anymore.

Do you have any advice for anyone else renovating their home?

First would be to have everything done at once if you’re going to renovate your home. If we had done this in bits and pieces rather than moving out and just getting it all out the way it would have taken far longer.

Next would be to work with an architect. This wasn’t a huge job, I think a lot of people would think they wouldn’t need an architect for it, but after having done so many home building projects over the years I can say it relieves so much stress.

I would have no hesitation recommending DGA in particular. Sometimes you don’t want to recommend people in case it all goes wrong, but I wouldn’t be at all worried about referring friends and family to DGA.

It’s just been a great experience, we are very grateful. And that’s not usually what you hear at the end of a building project!