Home Tour | Petersfield House by McLaren.Excell

  • A previously dark and poorly-planned Victorian house in central Cambridge, UK, is now considered “flowing”, “tactile” and “intimate” by the architect who restored it. 

    The subject of an amateur extension several years ago – one that rendered it “devoid of natural light” and “hampered by a tight plan” – this heritage-listed home in the historic UK city of Cambridge was due for a structural reset.

    Rising to the challenge was London-based architecture firm, McLaren.Excell, who have never been one to shy away from a heritage revival. Faced with the task of correcting previous design shortcomings, McLaren.Excell didn’t hesitate to give the home the upgrade that it deserved.

    The theme of revival is ever-present in McLaren.Exell’s work, which mostly comprises residential architecture projects in and around London. Each of McLaren Excell’s projects fits the mould of ‘light, open and fluid’ – a contrast to previously ‘dark, confined and disconnected’ spaces.

    In the case of Petersfield House, its rigid layout failed to capitalise on its high ceilings and intimate garden views. The centre of the house, in particular, was completely shut off from the rest, offering next to no natural light nor a sense of connectivity. The design scheme therefore revolved around opening up this central core to the living room at the rear and a new kitchen to the side. 

    The kitchen now takes complete advantage of its high ceilings and intimate garden views. This space features the Knoll Cesca chairs.

    The home’s existing plan prevented McLaren.Excell from opening spaces up vertically – or so they thought. The team improvised in the kitchen by dropping the floor down rather than raising the ceiling, and integrating skylights on either side. Sailing between the skylights is a concrete raft punctuated by bespoke light fittings designed by McLaren.Excell. “The concrete raft was designed to homogenise the many ceilings levels and create a dramatic, textured finish against the soft oak joinery,” associate architect Alexander Streatfeild says. The stair balustrade’s raw, blackened steel diverges from the harshness of the concrete and the softness of the oak, forming a new material entity of its own. Brickwork – both internally and externally – was chosen to reflect the existing Victorian house.

    The minimalist nature of Petersfield House seems to convey the idea of effortlessness when in reality, the project affirms the demands of deep contemplation and stringent consideration.

    Alexander was pleasantly surprised by the clients’ furniture choices; “it perfectly complements the simplicity of the architecture!” This space features the Workstead Orbit sconce.

    “How would I describe the home in three words? Flowing, tactile and intimate; a steep contrast from how it first looked.”


    – Alexander Streatfeild

    In the bedrooms and living spaces, the light-stained oak joinery harmonises with the clean white walls, while in the bathrooms, it was smoked dark to reflect the deep-grey stone. All tapware is Vola.

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