Through the keyhole of a stunning Regency apartment in Bath
PUBLISHED: 13:38 26 November 2018 | UPDATED: 13:38 26 November 2018
From 1970s horror to 21st-century chic, Sami and Kate Attia have transformed their beautiful Regency apartment in the city of Bath
When Sami Attia and his wife Kate first viewed their 1,800 sq ft apartment in Bath in May 2013 it still had many 1970s features.
“It’s quite an unusual space as it actually spreads across two Regency houses,” says Sami, a property developer. “It’s Grade 2 listed, and this sideways expansion wouldn’t be permitted any more. However, the apartment rooms situated in house number 4 had the worse of the 70s improvements. House number 5 had more of the original fabric.”
The illustrious Sir William Holburne, who established the Holburne Museum in Bath, once lived in this very pretty crescent.
Having bought the apartment, Sami and Kate remained in their home in Shepton Mallet as they knew a huge amount of work would have to be done.
“We bought it because it had wonderful classic features such as four metre high ceilings, cornicing, huge windows, original shutters, and it also came with its own exclusive garden,” says Sami. “But after consulting a historical architect, who managed to get planning consent within eight weeks, I brought in a team who spent another eight weeks gutting it of all the 1970s rubbish. These included suspended ceilings, flat panel doors and even a poor quality wall which had to be rebuilt. We also went back to the brickwork in some areas as the old render and plaster had blown and we had to re-skim the walls. And 120 metres of warped and split skirting board had to be replaced.”
While the stripping was underway Sami tackled the garden which measures some 10m by 10m. “It was summer so we thought we’d make the most of it. I had new paving laid, new borders designed and planted lots of trees and flowers.”
Then the whole apartment had to be rewired and replumbed, and a new gas boiler and water cylinder installed along with 16 specially made radiators. These came from House of Radiators and are on their own hot water zone loop. “Rather than have them electrically and water fed, it was just easier to get the plumber to put in a separate hot water circuit,” says Sami.
New engineered oak was laid over the poor quality Victorian floorboards, with plywood in between to create a level surface.
Sami also replaced many of the missing Regency features in House 4. “I matched them up with those still in place in House 5,” he says. “So I had the skirting boards, architraves, ceiling roses and so on copied by an excellent joiner Duncan Copeman to achieve continuity.”
Two fireplaces were found blocked up but were of the wrong period anyway – so Sami replaced them with gas-fuelled Regency reproductions from Chesneys. “Bath is a smoke-free zone so I couldn’t have restored them to how they would have been,” he says. A third fireplace was removed and the space filled with a chest of drawers, framed by a Regency-style surround.
“As for the shutters I had them removed, dismantled, numbered, chemically-stripped and then repainted,” he says. “It meant 64 individual closing parts had to be rehung at the correct windows. It was six weeks’ work! My decorators were not thrilled. In hindsight I would just have repainted them.”
Just off the main bedroom was a grim set-up comprising separate w.c. and tiny shower. “I made it into one big space,” says Sami. “I also rebuilt the surrounding wall and refurbished it with a big walk-in shower, a metre square, a bath, loo and basin. I also chose stainless steel towel heaters as steel disperses heat better than chrome.”
As for the kitchen, that too was gutted and refitted with bespoke Harvey Jones painted units, Panna Fragola granite units as well as a free-standing Italian Bertazonni double-oven.
It all took nine months then Sami and Kate set about furnishing their new home. They decided upon a mainly contemporary theme, mixed with period designs.
“So we have Bo Concept sofas in the Drawing Room and an ‘antiqued’ mirror above the fireplace plus an old re-upholstered footstool,” says Sami.
“And in our ‘with-drawing room’ we have an expandable Bo Concept veneered oak dining table and chairs - yet on either side of the Regency-style fireplace Duncan Copeman Furniture built some beautiful cabinetry, again in veneered oak. It replaced some 1970s built-in cupboards.”
But how did Sami get into the world of property development?
“It began with my mother who turned an uninspiring bed and breakfast business into a wonderful country house hotel,” he says. “I grew up there – it’s in Wookey Hole – and I absorbed many design ideas from her.”
Not long after Sami and Kate moved into their beautiful airy apartment they realised baby Alex was on the way. “And although we live in an apartment we now have our very own garden for him to play in,” says Sami.
RJ Mitchells Plumbers, 01225 424089, plumbersofbath.co.uk
Harvey Jones Kitchens, 01225 421032, harveyjones.com
Aspect Window Styling, 01225 469559, aspectwindowstyling.co.uk
Mandarin Stone, 01225 460033, mandarinstone.com
Coopers of Bath, 01225 311811, coopers-stores.com