An 1890’s Victorian mid-terraced house in Forest Gate, London, E7. When architect and designer Richard John Andrews bought the house for him and his wife, it was a run down, poorly kept and overcrowded HMO in Forest Gate, Newham. Fourteen months later and the property has been completely revamped from top to toe, including an impressive ground floor rear extension and side return. In order to keep to the tight budget of £85,000, architect Richard Andrews did much of the manual work himself. The hard work clearly paid off, as the house has been transformed into a light, modern and spacious family home.
The project is phase one of a three phase overall development plan for this property. The priority of this phase was to create a set of open-plan and functional entertaining spaces which would cater for both work and social lives, whilst at the same time acting as an experimental test bed for design and kick-starting Richard Andrews' recently established architecture and design studio.
As newly arrived owners and creatives to the local area, which has struggled with its quality of housing for some time, Richard felt the house had to set a high standard for proceeding small scale residential developments within the London Borough of Newham. The design set out to start a conversation about the fact that high quality building design shouldn’t be constrained by budget. Designed for now, with an eye on the horizon was his personal brief right from the start.
In order to achieve the project within such a tight budget the bulk of the labour was undertaken by the architect owner's own hands without the aid of a contractor; from groundworks and steelwork to brickwork and roofing. This presented some challenging design and construction obstacles, the most notable being the fact that he was on site alone, making simple tasks such as lifting timber a logistical problem-solving exercise.
With this newfound space downstairs and to the rear of the house they approached the design focusing on their love of entertaining and hosting family gatherings.
The couple also wanted to maintain a strong connection between the home and garden. Theirsolution was the addition of full height sliding pocket doors, that dock within a cork wall at the end of the kitchen space for unobstructed views of the garden. There is a sense of craft and honest design that has been constructed to flow throughout these spaces.
As their budget was restricted in places, the couple wanted to create a bespoke kitchen without the premium price tag associated with the word, ‘bespoke’.
They designed, treated, fabricated and assembled the entire kitchen themselves using simple cutting lists supplied to local timber merchants and basic joinery skills learnt first-hand.
Elsewhere, simple yet innovatively practical design solutions were adopted to match the couple's joint vision for the project. These range from the Indian ink-washed birch plywood kitchen cupboard doors to dyed concrete fireplace hearths poured in situ.
The rear extension and side return playfully nods to the property's original bones, retaining the brick walls and original back doorway, and contrasting them with poured floors, the modern kitchen and a sky light in the side return.
The kitchen / diner leads through to a cosy double living space. This middle room has a fresh, light palette, while the connecting space at the front of the house is painted in a bold inky blue.
The bubble chandelier is Dowsing & Reynolds.
Throughout the home, pale birch plywood shelves perched upon concealed aluminium angles offset the ebony-stained original Victorian floorboards.
The reclaimed staircase is modernised with a metal balustrade, keeping the scheme fresh.
A skylight illuminates the stairwell from above. A bedroom was sacrificed in order to create a large bathroom, unlocking the constricted terrace house layout that is typical of narrow London homes.
The bathroom features industrial design, from the exposed bulb pendant to the copper taps and retro reclaimed vanity unit.
Large metro tiles in herringbone formation give a fresh look, while copper-coloured grouting ties in with the copper bathroom fixtures and fittings. The modern freestanding tub is big enough for two.
There's a freestanding shower too, featuring the same industrial-style copper scheme.
The project reaffirmed Richard Andrews' belief that within the field of architecture, the void between design and construction detailing can be bridged by a more practical and pioneering synthesis between designer and maker.
The success of their methodology is a testament to the potential for self-builders to create stunning results in their own homes armed only with time, patience and a dedicated vision.
Photography: Chris Snook
Architecture and design: Richard John Andrews, Hello@richardjohnandrews.co.uk, www.instagram.com/richardjohnandrews
Structural Engineers: Structure Workshop Ltd
Brick Supplier: London Reclaimed Brick Merchants, exhibitor at the Homebuilding & Renovating Show