When the owners of this 19th-century townhouse decided to convert it from flats back into a family home, one of their main concerns was to create a large, lateral living space at its heart, one that would be free of any structural distractions. Working closely with an architect, the back of the house was opened up to create this towering space, in which a basement kitchen is overlooked by a galleried living room above. The ground floor appears to float in space; “All the supporting steelwork is concealed in floors and ceilings so there was no need for columns,” says the owner.
The kitchen table is another triumph of physics: a slab of granite supported at one end by a thin slice of steel. The secret? “It has a steel-framed section embedded in concrete under the floor.” The double-height cupboard, painted a striking ebony colour and accessed by a classic library ladder, links basement and ground floor like an abstract artwork and typifies the dramatic approach to interiors that is found throughout the house.
When the owners bought the property, the ground floor alone was divided into three flats. These have now gone and the owners have used the open front-to-back area to create a vast functional space that works as somewhere to relax and entertain.
Both luxurious and family friendly, this home has been cunningly designed to conceal all child-related paraphernalia; the electronic keyboard is housed in a bespoke piano, the television is masked by a mirror, and even the remote has its own custom-made box; “The trick is to look minimalist without actually being minimalist,” the owner remarks. A part-wall keeps the front door neatly hidden from view.
Cinnabar-coloured velvet cushions
Simply by removing most of the original entrance hall wall, the owners have been able to reveal the original, fine staircase and make it a key and integral part of the new open-plan ground floor. Softly coloured panelling extends up the stairs from the living room wall to create a feeling of continuity between the two floors.
Although the palette used throughout the house is quite neutral, the owners are adept at deploying colour to emphasise the architecture. In the delightfully decadent water closet, the double-height door flaunts deep-buttoned suede upholstery in a rich midnight blue, to contrast with the plum walls. Close the door and the tones of Martin Jarvis narrating Richmal Cromptons tales of Just William drift from hidden speakers.
Door upholstered in Ultrasuede
Walls painted in Pelt
Farrow & Ball
Formerly a one-bedroom flat, the whole of the top floor of the house has been opened up to the roof (vaulted ceilings conceal the necessary metalwork) and is today a flowing sequence of rooms, where bedroom leads to a walk-in wardrobe and on to a luxurious bathroom. The subtle cupboard built into an alcove of the main bedroom is an example of the practical, streamlined storage found throughout the house.
A vaulted ceiling, inky colours and a towering statement bedhead give the main bedroom a sense of gothic drama. Again, the furniture here has been especially designed to fit the revised proportions of the room.
Downstairs, the childrens bedrooms are both practical and elegant, and any childish clobber is spirited away into furniture made “for size and purpose”. A graceful “bed in the sky” designed by the owner leaves space for play beneath while pretty rosebud wallpaper and bedding make this a room that will grow with the child.
Bed painted in Joas White
Farrow & Ball
Childs Retro Kitchen Cooker
Great Little Trading Company
Grown-up but child-friendly, this bedroom was designed with maximum storage; so floor-to-ceiling cupboards line one wall and drawers are tucked under the four-poster bed. Fluttery drapes and a chandelier echo the sophisticated air of the house.
Similar Eiffel Tower cushion
In another example of the cunning design ideas found throughout the house, a trampoline is sunk into the lawn so as not to spoil the smart look of the garden. There are plans for a swimming pool, which will be elegant but also long enough for the children to practice laps because “there is no point in having something that looks good but isnt practical”.
Amalfi sofa and ottoman