A Family Home In Highgate Has Been Reconfigured And Modernised

XUL Architects renovated this family home in London's Highgate, reconfiguring the formerly uncomfortable and unordered layout to create a modern family home that flows and is filled with light.


A family home on Cromwell Avenue in Highgate had multiple circulation issues, with different levels and spaces flowing in an uncomfortably unordered manner. To turn it into a more practical modern home,  the owners brought on North London based XUL Architecture to address these issues and to create a space which is usable, has a better circulation and is filled with light. The homeowner enlisted the services of a fabric consultant who chose fabrics for the rooms to add colour and warmth to this vibrant home. The interior design was originally conceived by Philip Lihou from Inner Space London.

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Key to the refurbishment of this property was opening views from the front door through to the garden, drawing light in from both angles. XUL Architecture also opened up a skylight to flood the stairwell with more natural daylight.

The architects also closed up one of the entrances to the dining room, and replaced that doorway with handy hallway storage and a bench seat.

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The kitchen flooring was created with polished concrete, which continues on the kitchen countertops.

Together with the grey cabinets, this took on an industrial look which was warmed up with the clever use of plywood, terracotta lamps and pots and decorated with greenery throughout.

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The room is filled with light from two sides and has a view to the front door.


The kitchen flows into a relaxed family room which sits in a conservatory-style space.

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Hanging plants add lots of greenery, giving this space a garden-like vibe.

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The downstairs loo is a similarly inky colour, a textural wallpaper that was painted in Farrow & Ball's Inchyra.

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A step up from the kitchen is a laid-back luxe dining room.

By opening up the walls from the kitchen and living room into the dining room allowed for the doorway from the hallway to be sealed off. This created more wall area to create a cosy dining room.

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Glassware and crockery is stored in the dining room, which also helps free up space in the kitchen.


Restoring original features of the property was part of the brief to the architects. Reclaimed wood was used for the flooring within the refurbished living room.

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The alcoves next to the mantel were undeep, so the bottom shelf comes out at an angle to create triangular storage.

A colourful Kilim-style flatweave rug adds colour to the living room, making it a more homely space.


A signature to all XUL projects is to consider the three directions of light that can be channelled into the building; from above, back and front of a property. XUL opened up the plastic skylight above the stairwell and replaced with a contemporary glass alternative which now floods the space with light.

Bookshelves were also fitted into the stairwell, making a striking feature, adding colour and maximise space.

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XUL spent many hours talking to the homeowner and discovered their love of cactus. This colour and shape were brought through to the design adding character and a homeliness that turned the house into a home.

The music room or “green room” as the owners refer to it has built-in storage which was already present in the house from a previous renovation.

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The house was spread over three floors and after many discussions with the owners, the architects decided to relocate the master bedroom to the top floor and create a suite for them. This allowed for the middle floor to become bedrooms for the children and guests.

A curved arch framing the window breaks up the sloped ceiling and gives this room a softness.

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The master suite comprises of a bedroom, bathroom and walk-in wardrobe. The bathroom is accessed via the wardrobe so when the doors are closed it looks like typical wardrobe doors.

The master bathroom is definitely a highlight in this home, it is pretty much another hangout space.

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A wallpapered feature wall and daybed with coral print cushions add lots of fun colour to this inviting master bathroom. The wallpaper plays on the owners' love of cacti.

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The bath takes central space under the dormer window and curved ceiling.

The bathroom has a steam shower in addition to a standard shower.

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A large palm print paper makes a fun feature in one of the kids' rooms.

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The bay window creates a perfect nook for doing homework.

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A couple of framed art prints add a pop of colour to the compact, minimalist bathroom.

Photography: Matt Clayton

Lotte Brouwer

Lotte is the Digital Editor for Livingetc, and has been with the website since its launch. She has a background in online journalism and writing for SEO, with previous editor roles at Good Living, Good Housekeeping, Country & Townhouse, and BBC Good Food among others, as well as her own successful interiors blog. When she's not busy writing or tracking analytics, she's doing up houses, two of which have features in interior design magazines. She's just finished doing up her house in Wimbledon, and is eyeing up Bath for her next project.