Property: Style in suburbia

The long-scorned Thirties semi is finally making converts.

Just as lots of people start off with a strong idea of the sort of partner they are looking for, then fall for someone completely different, so it can happen with a home. The handsome Victorian or Edwardian property has long had plenty of admirers, while the Thirties semi is often ignored or rejected outright.

The determined refrain "I would never go for a Thirties house", is as familiar to many estate agents as "I'm looking for a Victorian terrace with original features".

The perceived shortcomings of the Thirties semi are well documented: they lack the relatively capacious rooms of many of the older period properties, and there is often a small kitchen - and the infamous "box" third bedroom. Louise Woodford, curator of the Geffrye museum in London, says: "The fireplaces could often be hideous, with brown tiles, although you could sometimes get marble or wood ones."

There has also been a little snobbery attached to the Thirties semi. "They were built predominantly for the lower middle classes", says Ms Woodford, and for some buyers they still represent an image of net curtains and suburban tweeness.

John Harrington and his wife Sarah-Jane had been adamant that they would not buy a Thirties house. When their two daughters came along, however, and they were keen for them to attend a particular school, the area in which they needed to find a property was effectively circumscribed.

They focused their search for a new home on 15 nearby streets and found that these were made up entirely of Thirties houses.

John says: "I always said I hated Thirties semis, particularly since I had seen so many that had been butchered. However, when we walked into this one we were extremely surprised at what we saw and were instantly smitten. We just looked at each other and said, `we'll have it'."

Much of the attraction lay in the fact that the house retained many of its original features.

"It had lovely fireplaces with dark wood surrounds, as well as the original picture rails. In the bathroom was a big, free-standing bath, still with its taps that infill from the sides. We must have looked amazed, because the old lady who was selling the house told us not to worry about the existing state of the bathroom - she would make sure that this was all replaced with a new whisper-grey bathroom suite for us. We quickly put a brake on that."

The Harringtons also found that the house had original Art Deco tiling. "All we had to do was to clean up the grout."

In Kent, Annette Stephens and her husband, Ervin, did not see themselves in a Thirties house - but ended up being seduced by one. "We had been looking for a Victorian house but all the ones we looked at were too pricey. We then decided, very half-heartedly, to take a look at a Thirties house in the same area. When we saw it there was instant attraction.

"It was on a secluded corner plot so I didn't have the feeling of living in one long row of Thirties semis, and it had a beautiful, mature garden. It was also built in the chalet style with a long, sloping roof, so the room layout was quite different from that of the typical Thirties semi's room structure."

The Stephenses stripped the floors, the doors, the skirting boards and the window frames. "We deliberately made the house as unfussy as possible."

Like the Harringtons, they now believe that having a rear reception room that fully overlooks the garden gives an edge over their former ideal home - a Victorian terrace with just a narrow stretch down the side of the house to the garden. The Harringtons say: "It also makes it very easy to watch the children."

The Stephenses added a conservatory to the rear reception room, so the French doors and flanking windows lead into another bright room.

Louise Woodford says: "Lighting was deliberately enhanced in Thirties houses, with their curved, suntrap windows, or wide horizontal ones that were meant to let in as much sun as possible."

So will there be a continued trend towards Thirties houses? Bryony Galpin, at the magazine Period House, has noted a burgeoning interest among readers.

She says: "Although the majority of our readership have Georgian, Victorian or Edwardian properties, we also have a many readers who live in Thirties properties. We have run features on Art Deco and on Thirties furniture recently, and we've been surprised at how popular they have been."

Thirties semis are certainly well represented in Britain's housing stock. Louise Woodford says: "They form a very important part of most suburban areas, in all their various forms - from the `Tudorbethan' style to the flat-roofed versions."

As couples are forced to look further afield than the urban centres, where Victorian houses may either be in less salubrious areas or command premium prices, Thirties properties make up a larger percentage of the homes available.

Serge Weinberger, of the north London estate agents Anscombe and Ringland, says: "Given a choice, a particular couple may choose a Victorian over a Thirties semi, but in many locations you are talking only of Thirties properties.

"Some of these areas are readily accessible to the city centre, yet still relatively close to the countryside, and saw big price hikes when prices started taking off.

This has now levelled off," he adds, "and the over-pricing by sellers has been nipped in the bud."

The Geffrye Museum (0171-739 9893)

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
beauty
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
transfers
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
News
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
tv
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    JavaScript Developer (Angular, Web Forms, HTML5, Ext JS,CSS3)

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: JavaScript Dev...

    BC2

    £50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

    SAP Data Migration Consultant

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

    Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

    £300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice