'But we liked the fact that it was structurally sound and was being sold with planning permission to add a fourth floor.'
Peter and his wife Shula had already some hands-on experience of renovation, having designed a chain of holistic London-based beauty salons called Ark - a business they launched seven years ago.
They set about redesigning their new home from the top down. The roof came off first and an additional floor was added - a project that took six months. They next turned their attention to the infrastructure - rewiring, replumbing and replastering - shifting stuff around as they progressed.
However, they bided their time when it came to design details, deliberately postponing the work for a year to soak up the atmosphere of the house and reflect at leisure on what would work best. In the meantime they whitewashed the walls and laid down cheap foam carpeting.
'We couldn't decide at first whether to go for a traditional or for a contemporary design,' says Peter, 'but in the end we decided to compromise by preserving the more traditional look on the outside but introducing a more contemporary feel for the interior.'
The original Victorian façade with its sash windows, delicate renderings and stone steps was retained, though the black iron railings at the front were given a modernist twist and repainted silver - a colour repeated in the house's many brushed steel fittings. Lilac is another colour that crops up a lot - on the front door, in the Welsh slate used for paving the front yard and inside in the carpets and curtains.
Much thought has gone into the lighting too. 'Terraced houses can often be dark and gloomy,' says Peter, 'so we have tried to maximise the play of light throughout the house.'
Walls and ceilings are painted white and extensive use is made of open-plan design. The front door leads directly into the first-floor sitting room - originally two rooms that have been knocked through into one. Here, as throughout the house, the wooden flooring has been stained chocolate brown and given a varnished finish. A slim fireplace lends symmetry to the space while overhead lighting is supplied by two giant chandeliers wrapped in a silvery fabric that reflects the rays. The futuristic feel is reinforced by a plasma TV built into the wall above the fireplace and in the minimalist fittings and furniture. A summer room to the back of the lounge, meanwhile, leads out to a bamboo-fringed decked garden area.
The open-plan kitchen and dining room area is below the lounge, down a flight of timber stairs incorporating sensor-triggered lights. 'Perfect for midnight feasts,' says Peter.
They retained only the Victorian parquet flooring from this level, stripping the plaster from the chimney breast to expose the London stock brickwork and using the same bricks to build the breakfast bar island. There's a utility room and mini-gym to the back of the kitchen and a south-facing patio courtyard adjoining it.
The floor above the lounge is given over to two sizeable bedrooms and a bathroom, while the top level is devoted to a light and airy master bedroom suite. 'Because we have gone right up to the eaves of the roof and installed five Velux skylights in the vaulted ceiling we've been able to make best use of all the natural light to achieve an incredibly bright effect,' says Peter.
The bathroom is en suite but its free-standing bath and twin basins are only partially screened off by a limestone partition. A further potential bedroom to the back of the house currently serves as a walk-in wardrobe with fitted floor-to-ceiling closets while a short flight of stairs leads out onto a sun terrace.
Peter and Kim are now planning to buy a new home in Spain and make do with a London pied-a-terre from which to oversee their business. What will they miss most about it? 'The views over the Thames, the fresh air and the fact that the whole house is bathed in natural light,' says Peter.
Get the spec
What's for sale: Three-double-bedroom house, on four floors, in Chelsea riverside location, with patio, decked garden area and sun terrace.
Serious kit: Rationale kitchen cupboards and units, Neff double oven, Miele fridge, Gaggenau gas hob; fitted plasma TV with surroundsound; four-zone centrally controlled Bose audio-visual system; concealed sensor-operated LCD lighting in stairs.
How big? About 185 sq m, including open-plan kitchen/ dining area, generous living room, gym and master bedroom with en-suite bathroom and fitted walk-in wardrobe.
Buy it: Cluttons, 020 7584 1771, £1,275,000.