Osborne Villas Renovation Project

Several months ago, I wrote about my new home on Osborne Villas. The plan was to live there at least until I had a proper plan in place for my next step.

The place was bought as a damp, badly carved-up wreck and proper renovation was always going to be expensive. It was a toss-up between a simple paint-job (with a view to retention and a quick jump on to the next project) and complete refurbishment. I lasted one week before snapping one evening and ripping out all of the carpets and, shortly afterwards, all of the plasterboard walls. The following weekend, having removed the bathroom and kitchen too, I had to move back out.

Osborne has been reduced to its shell. It has no internal doors, no ceilings, no gas, a couple of dangling bulbs, one or two working sockets, one tap and no plaster on the walls. At least it has some walls left, I suppose. It has been a tough but fulfilling few months and there’s little more in the way of demolition for me to do. The layout now closely resembles its original format save for some lintels that I had installed between the principle front and back rooms. Non-structural refurbishment is to commence soon.

Although there was little in the way of original interior features to preserve, I have tried to work in the spirit of the building where appropriate. Interior design is one of those things that almost everybody thinks that they can do – but many really can’t. I’m acutely aware of my limitations so have been scouring as many books and magazines as possible to find the exact look that I want – so that I can blatantly copy it.

Outside, I have taken the opportunity to remove all superfluous junk (such as a lean-to extension, overbearing plants, cabling and a satellite dish) to return the building to its clean and calming Italianate state. The greatest – but most expensive – addition will be the new roof. Cheap but heavy clay tiles replaced the original material which led to several important beams buckling. The new slate will be stunning though.

Osborne Villas was built in around 1850 and takes both its name and style from Osborne House, Queen Victoria’s official residence on the Isle of Wight. Osborne House was designed by Thomas Cubitt and Prince Albert. I wonder what they would make of my new place.