A double-fronted Victorian house in southwest London. The ground floor of this modern home (opens in new tab) has a living room and playroom, with a glass-sided walkway and stairs down to the open-plan family room and kitchen-diner (plus utility room and WC). There are three bedrooms (one en suite), a family bathroom and study on the first floor, with the master suite on the top floor.
The masterstroke in the re-design of this home was the owner's decision to slice through its traditional core, inserting sections of glass and crisp lines, so that the once buttoned-up 19th-century space now flows with renewed energy.
Slender gaps in the wood risers (shown above) let slivers of sunlight shine through the suspended glass-clad staircase, adding to the feeling of lightness and space. The marble kitchen island (opens in new tab) in the centre of the classic Smallbone kitchen was made so that each long side is parallel with its exterior wall – making a subtler mini trapezium.
Today, the house is anything but predictable; much of its dynamism stemming from contrasts, whether brights against pale shades or traditional vs modern materials. The couple who live here admit to quite different tastes. One loves artist, Modigliani – very measured and classically composed. The other, Jackson Pollock paint splatters, Damien Hurst skulls – anything that challenges rather than soothes.
But it’s the contrasting styles of architecture that pack the biggest punch – and succeed in solving an architectural puzzle that has lain at the heart of this London home since it was built. It’s not obvious at first, but the floor plan of this handsome double-fronted house is more trapezium than rectangle – probably the result of bickering Victorian builders when the land was divvied up. The result is that the house’s two exterior side walls gently angle inwards, finally meeting in a point at the end of the cake-slice of garden.
The slice of garden is cleverly designed in receding sections – decking, seating, hedge, lawn and a raised bed – which creates the illusion of depth, as if it fades into the distance. The white concrete retaining wall has been customised into a tropical bench.
The tapered, almost triangular floor spaces seemed to be crying out for a new central staircase (opens in new tab). Which, in turn, naturally divided the lower-ground floor into two zones – kitchen-diner and family room.
The central hallway (opens in new tab) was widened and the couple laid floor tiles that are part-modern, part-Victorian. The pattern harks back to the house’s roots, but the shades are crisper. Walls and a section of floor were removed to create a double-height atrium, emphasised by the cluster of pendants.
The couple try to keep this as a grown-up space for chats and late-night cognacs. It also shows their different tastes in art.
Bold colours pull the look together.
Bespoke shelving makesa feature of the unusual angles at play in the study.
The owners wanted every space to have a bit of light-hearted humour – even the smallest ones.
Colour pops lift this loft conversion master bedroom (opens in new tab) into a sophisticated but fun space.
The organic curves of this bath are a calm contrast to all the straight lines and angles in the house. It's placed under the window so you can lie back and stargaze.
See more Smallbone kitchens in this style at smallbone.co.uk
Photography / James Merrell
Shining a spotlight on the now and the next in home design and decor, Livingetc is the UK's best selling high end and contemporary home design magazine. As a brand, Livingetc showcases the world's very best homes, breaks and makes the trends, and has access to leading international designers for insight and ideas. It was first published in 1998, and is currently edited by Pip Rich.
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