Meet the Client Who Bought One of London’s Best Views

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

We recently helped a client through pre-planning for Wick Cottage, a Grade I listed house on Richmond Hill with a view that is surely one of the best in London. We visited her at her unique new home to reflect on the journey so far.

What was it about Wick Cottage that made you want it as a home?

We love Richmond and currently live here, so we knew we wanted to stay in the area. It has everything going for it: cinemas, restaurants, amazing pubs and galleries. I walk every day in Richmond park and I can get into central London in 15 minutes. I was born and bred in London but my husband loves the countryside, so Richmond strikes the perfect balance between the two.

Our children have moved out, so we didn’t want a house that was too large to maintain or spread over too many floors. Our second choice was a tall Georgian house by the river but I just knew I’d end up spending all my time on one floor. Wick Cottage has a lot of horizontal space, so I feel I can move around freely and enjoy the whole house.

Then there was the Keith Richards connection. My husband is obsessed with Keith Richards, he’ll dress up as him whenever Halloween gives him the chance. He actually found Wick Cottage because it was mentioned in Keith Richard’s biography. It used the be owned by Ronnie Wood along with the house besides it, and together it became one huge party palace.

The last owners would still discover relics from its rock star past, like psychedelic wallpaper hidden beneath the plaster.

And, of course, there’s the view, I’ll never tire of being able to stand in the kitchen and look out over the Thames. I couldn’t ask for a more fantastic location.

Why did you choose DGA to get you planning approval?

I was very frightened when I discovered the house was Grade I listed. We were buying a house with a lot of boundaries in terms of what we could and could not do and there were certain features that I just wouldn’t be able to live without – primarily, the kitchen.

So I went online to find the best architect for listed planning approval in Richmond and it was Dyer Grimes Architecture. Their success rate is amazing and I saw from their blogs that they’re very knowledgable, so I thought, they sound great! I met with John and I immediately thought, if anyone’s going to get anything done then it’s John Dyer-Grimes because he’s so incredibly enthusiastic.

How did you find the process of working with DGA?

They’re a lovely team. They took us through the pre planning process so we could understand what would and would not be allowed. John was very knowledgable about how to approach the design and include all the features we were hoping for. They also brought in Justin Ayton, an architectural historian, to consult the pre-planning and write up the historical context.

That historical context was really important for understanding how we could care for the existing fabric and reinstate elements, which can enable us to make changes elsewhere that are important to us. All windows will be restored, walls that have been stripped will be re-plastered and one of the fireplaces will be reinstated.

Our taste was not to produce a pastiche but also not be too modern, and they understood that balance. My main priority is to extend and open up the kitchen to make the most of that wonderful view and it looks likely we’ll be able to do that. Hopefully we’ll get approval to have a conservatory going out into the garden as well.

I hope we’ll get what we want and I know that John will be very strong in pushing for it.

Renovations can be tough, especially when they’re listed. What makes them worth it?

I’ve done a number of builds over the years, one in Wales, one in Majorca, another in Kingston Hill – always either near a river or the sea. I love to go into a house and make everything exactly how I want it, but I also love the character and history of an old building, so renovations are perfect for me. Over the years I’ve learned a lot – you always make mistakes – but I do think this will be my last one!