The average detached home in London sells for insane $1,164,738. With prices like that, why try to buy something new? Why not renovate what you have instead? That’s the philosophy behind the Don’t Move, Improve! competition, which celebrates the best architectural makeovers of residential housing across London.
The shortlist of winners feature anything but the sort of cookie-cutter gimmicks you might see on HGTV programming (which are really about adding a fresh coat of paint and some new finishes from Lowes or Home Depot, anyway). Instead, the competition focuses on bespoke, creative work that maximizes the beauty and functionality of existing homes, often within the cramped footprints of historic buildings. It’s about celebrating emerging architecture–and the idea that it can coexist with what’s already there–rather than copy and pasting the same old quartz countertops.
The competition’s winner is dubbed The Chapel, designed by Craftworks. Formerly a run-down church, it’s now a full-fledged work of art. The existing vaulted roof was reconstructed with white, geometric paneling and new skylights that accentuate each angle. This high, sculptural ceiling is accentuated by a fireplace that rises two stories–and with practical bedrooms tucked into a new lower level and a broad living room taking the place of the existing ground floor, it puts the “open-concept” cliché to shame.
The “best-value” award went to the Scissor Truss House by Studio Mesh–built by two people, by hand–which reimagined a 1900s dairy cottage with a full glass wall. Its stunning “scissor” truss ceiling has two functions: First, it brings the feeling of the old growth trees on the property inside. And secondly, the truss is designed in such a way that it puts minimal lateral load on the structure’s original brick walls, which allowed the architects to keep reinforced steel framing to a minimum. The result is a cottage that feels like the perfect mix of the early 1900s and 2000s, simultaneously cozy and a breath of fresh air. And it only cost $45,000 in renovations.
Scope out the full slideshow above to see images of all 10 winners. The variety is pretty inspiring–and it will make you rethink that new backsplash you’ve been ogling.