Take a tour around this small artisan cottage in London

Explore this 19th-century worker's cottage, chosen by Homes & Gardens, and be inspired by the owner's retro-inspired contemporary update featuring bold materials and clean lines. Find more inspiring ideas for your home at housetohome.co.uk

Design should be low key, chic and understated, but rich in detail.’ So says the owner of this 19th-century worker's cottage, a designer who applies this philosophy to everything he creates, from a range of affordable bathroom furniture to a red-carpet evening gown. The 1950s have inspired the changes to the house. ‘It's a design era that is infinitely user-friendly,’ he says. The circa 1958 curved chairs originally came from a Norwegian luxury cruise liner.

1/12 Open-plan ground floor

open plan ground floor with white wall and stairs

(Image credit: Future PLC/Ben Anders)

Vintage Scandinavian furniture
Vintage Retro

2/12 Fireplace

sitting room with cream coloured wall and fireplace

(Image credit: Future PLC/Ben Anders)

On the ground floor, interior walls came down and a small fireplace was removed to allow for the open hearth with its pebble gas fire. ‘I've used a dash of red right through the house. I designed this red, laquered-wood shelf to double as a coffee table and seating for extra guests.’ The owner also designed and made the wooden relief on the chimney breast.

Pebble gas fire

Real Flame

3/12 Guest cloakroom

guest cloakroom with white basin and flower pot

(Image credit: Future PLC/Ben Anders)

In reworking the layout of the house, the owner was able to carve out a small cloakroom on the ground floor. Elsewhere, gone are the curves and arches beloved of the original builder and of the previous owner, and in their place the rooms have clean, contemporary lines. ‘I wanted to create the feeling of one big, open-plan space downstairs.’

Afya basin

Ben de Lisi Room Concepts at Abacus Direct

4/12 Guest bedroom

bedroom with windows on carton and pillows on bed

(Image credit: Future PLC/Ben Anders)

In the guest bedroom, the luxurious silk curtains and bed quilt are framed by alcove shelves laden with a lifetime's collection of black ceramics and glass. The main focal point, however, is the extraordinary hand-embroidered and painted silk wall covering on the chimney breast.

Origami Platinum wallpaper

5/12 Guest bedroom storage

room with white door and black storage

(Image credit: Future PLC/Ben Anders)

A set of stacking boxes cleverly hides a television and DVD units. ‘I couldn't find exactly what I wanted,’ says the owner, ‘so I designed these and had them made.’

Similar storage


6/12 Spare room

guest room with frame on wall and pillows on sofa

(Image credit: Future PLC/Ben Anders)

The owner decided to keep the second, smaller bedroom as a spare room instead of knocking it and the guest bedroom into one large space. The bespoke-designed shelving and cupboards frame the sofa, which can be converted into a small double bed whenever necessary.

Similar sofabed
The Conran Shop

7/12 Stairwell

stairwell and white wall and wall star

(Image credit: Future PLC/Ben Anders)

Upstairs, a loft extension has taken the house from two to three storeys and houses the main bedroom and shower room. ‘I put in wall-to-ceiling glass panels to replace the windows on every floor at the back of the house.’ The stairs have been kept open to the bedroom for maximum light and the 1950s wall-mounted glass star came from an antiques shop in London's King's Road.

Similar wall stars
At The Ark

8/12 Main bedroom

bedroom with white wall and ceramic collection

(Image credit: Future PLC/Ben Anders)

Piled with pillows and cushions, the owner is more likely to relax on his bed and watch television up here than in the living room. ‘My respite from juggling so much in life is to rest here in the evenings with the remote control and the dogs at my feet,’ he says.

Similar mirror doors

KKS Fitted Bedrooms

9/12 Ceramic collection

bedroom with ceramic collection

(Image credit: Future PLC/Ben Anders)

Collections of china and glass, including this display of milk-white glazed ceramics in floor-to-ceiling box shelves, are put to striking decorative use around the house. ‘I love the way they look like a modern art installation,’ says the owner.

Similar ceramics
John Lewis

10/12 Bathroom

bathroom with glass door and commode

(Image credit: Future PLC/Ben Anders)

Tiled in pure white from floor to ceiling, the compact bathroom and shower are an excellent exercise in spatial design.


Ben de Lisi Room Concepts at Abacus Direct

11/12 Shower

bathroom with shower and bathroom essentials

(Image credit: Future PLC/Ben Anders)

From the shower room, the owner has a crow's nest view of the surrounding neighbourhood through the plate glass panel fitted into the back wall. ‘Visitors sometimes wonder a little about it, but the steam soon obscures the glass so it is perfectly private.

12/12 Garden

garden with wooden floor and plants

(Image credit: Future PLC/Ben Anders)

I wanted the garden to be really easy to maintain,’ says the owner. ‘I especially like the mirrored window set into the wall and the way the shed is concealed as a summerhouse.’

Garden design and Jumbo Pot

The Chelsea Gardener

If you liked this, find more inspiring ideas on the Homes & Gardens website. And be first to hear about our favourite new finds on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Heather Young

Heather Young has been Ideal Home’s Editor since late 2020, and Editor-In-Chief since 2023. She is an interiors journalist and editor who’s been working for some of the UK’s leading interiors magazines for over 20 years, both in-house and as a freelancer.