Amidst a row of charming Georgian townhouses close to Bath’s historic city centre stands the beautifully restored period house that Sami Attia is now proud to call home. “I’m relaxing and enjoying this gorgeous property now, having taken two years of hard work to return it to its former glory,” says the aviation consultant.
Sami, who adds that his inspiration and love for design stems from being brought up in a beautiful hotel in the Somerset countryside, first viewed this grand dwelling in 2010, and instantly knew he had found something special.
Despite the fact that only part of the house had been lived in by an elderly couple, it was in a poor state of repair. Nevertheless, he could see the property’s great potential and was instantly drawn by its history and charm. “I just wanted to transform it back into a lovely family home again,” he says.
Renovating and restoring this wonderful period building back to its former glory did not come without its challenges, however. “Although the house was structurally sound, I knew it was going to need a lot of time, money and patience to bring it back to life in a sympathetic manner,” says Sami.
He put in an offer on the property for £550,000, which was accepted, and once the sale was complete, he couldn’t wait to get started. With a budget of £350,000 and having waited a further four months for the plans to be approved, Sami started his search for suitable tradesmen. “I found my builder, who had a sound reputation, through talking to various local suppliers,” he says.
Sami’s vision for this house was clear from the outset, which enabled him to successfully project manage the entire process. Given the sheer scale of work, he enlisted one contractor to undertake the whole renovation alongside smaller local tradesmen for more specialised areas, such as bespoke joinery and wiring.
“I purposely chose not to put myself under the pressure of any fixed deadline, which helped the flow and pace of the build. I wanted everything to be done right so there was no point rushing each stage. I felt like a conductor in an orchestra,” he says.
“Even though I was making some major alterations, the planning, design and construction phase went relatively smoothly,” he continues. “There were a few minor communication issues with workmen along the way, but these were always resolved quickly.
“We started at the very top, re-roofing and replacing the tiles with Welsh slate. The front of the house had a much-needed facelift and was pressure cleaned, which has exposed the original sand colour of the stone. It looks so much better now that all the build-up of dirt and grime has been removed.”
Inside, work started on creating a large and light-filled master bedroom on the top floor. “There were previously three rooms up there – two small bedrooms and a cloakroom,” says Sami. “The first task was to knock down the dividing wall, gut it completely and take it back to its shell.”
He then reconfigured the space to build a luxury ensuite wetroom with a curved shower screen from Matki, and Italian marble walls and floors supplied by Mandarin Stone.
An open and bright space has now been created on the top floor, which is flooded with illumination from a new skylight. The irregular spaces under the eaves have been filled by bespoke fitted wardrobes embellished with oak veneers, which were built by a local carpenter.
Next on the agenda was the kitchen. “The old one was on the fourth floor, but I wanted to return it back into the basement, which was being used as a workshop, because that’s where it would have been originally,” says Sami.
“I really felt I needed to take my time to choose an arrangement that would complement the period of the house and blend in with its historical features. That’s why I chose beautiful bespoke units in a New England style, which came from Mark Wilkinson, and a Lacanche gas range cooker.”
Moving the kitchen proved to be a blessing, as the cooker wouldn’t fit through the front door. When it was delivered, Sami had to have a basement window removed to bring it in by a crane. “This is my favourite room because it is very light, even though it’s in the basement,” he says.
A luxurious wetroom has replaced the old kitchen on the fourth floor. On the same level, Sami has turned what had once been the lounge into another double bedroom, featuring bespoke floor-to-ceiling fitted oak wardrobes and a limestone fireplace.
To bring the property up to modern standards, a brand new central heating system was installed. Sami selected a Keston boiler, together with a 300-litre water cylinder, which was fitted by a local plumbing company. This set-up, coupled with the heavily insulated roof, means that the property’s energy bills are affordable.
There is underfloor heating in the kitchen, and classic-style radiators from Bisque have been installed elsewhere. “I am really pleased with the radiators – they look so crisp and elegant in the rooms,” says Sami.
The renovation work continued methodically up through the house, where partition walls were taken down and windows were restored with the aid of Wessex Restoration.
The old Victorian fireplaces were replaced with elegant new limestone surrounds by Chesney’s (from Mendip Fireplaces in Bath), which Sami felt were more stylish and sympathetic to the period of the house. All the floors were stripped back, stained and sealed, and the period cornices were replaced.
Although the renovation and restoration took more than two years in total (and went over budget by £100k), Sami is extremely proud of what he has achieved. Realising this historic property’s true potential has been a huge challenge, however the end result is an alluring residence that combines classic Georgian features and details, but is sympathetic to modern living. As Sami sums it up:
“I feel privileged to have played a part in the history of such a beautiful house, and to have been able to transform it back into a comfortable and stylish home once again.”