While a flat in the heart of London and a weekend cottage in the countryside might seem like an idyllic set-up, it simply didn’t work for this couple: ‘Living a split life ended up being too complicated.’ So the pair sold the cottage, let the flat and bought the first and only house they viewed. The configuration of a wide terrace in north London with its generous living space across three floors was perfect. They never stopped looking at properties online, but neither of them saw anything worth mentioning. ‘But as soon as this place came on the market, we moved quickly.’
Initially, the pair designed an extension using structural glass, but it was only when permission was obtained and drawings prepared, that they discovered building costs were likely to be double their architect’s original estimate. ‘After nearly a year of planning, it was so disappointing.’ So the couple sat down to rethink their ideas and decided to renovate the house as it was. And, as they had already specified the wood flooring, bathroom fittings, tiles and more, it was enough of a head start to give them the confidence to manage the project themselves.
'We had to strip almost everything out and start again from scratch,' they recall. All the dated fittings were removed, and in went new flooring, underfloor heating, a boiler and water tank, fireplaces, lighting, a kitchen and new bathrooms in a complete top-to-toe refurbishment. 'We tend to be drawn to spaces that are comfortable, warm and functional, and so we wanted to create that here. It's the little details that make a difference, from effective lighting to de-misting pads behind bathroom mirrors.'
A muted palette of gentle tones creates a calm, relaxing mood in this elegant open plan space. The floor to ceiling windows floods the room with light, which makes the atmosphere bright and airy. If you have a large room with wooden floors like this, carpets and rugs are a great way to make it feel cosier.
The owners share a love of art and design. And while many of their favourite pieces have been accumulated over the years, there are some that have been bought especially for the project - even before the sale of the property had been completed, they had made a few purchases. 'We just couldn't help ourselves as we knew they would look amazing in the finished interior.'
Arranging the furniture around a central coffee table creates a comfortable atmosphere in the living room. A large mirror above a mantlepiece is a great trick to make the room seem even larger.
Sleek, streamlined units have been given character with a tiled splashback and quirky artwork. The large window floods the kitchen with natural light so most of the time the lights aren't actually needed.
Discreetly designed built-in storage has resulted in a clean, uncluttered space in the bedroom. In contrast to the drama of the paintings and prints on the walls, the pair's decor style is deliberately calm. 'We like to keep it simple. That doesn't mean minimal, you just need to choose carefully, go for clean lines and focus on pieces you love.'
In a smaller bedroom like this, blinds are a great option as they take up far less room than curtains, keeping the room clutter free. The burnt orange cushions on the bed give a burst of colour and pick out tones of the abstract artwork, mounted above.
A solid-oak bath surround and shelf provide a warm contrast against the raw finish of the modern concrete-effect tiles in the bathroom. The owners have managed to create a bright, white space without it looking too stark and clinical.
The owners enjoyed the project so much that one is considering becoming an interior designer. And even though the other doesn't have a career change in mind, they both share a passion and attention to detail. 'This is what's made everything come together so easily. We've created a home that we adore.'