We have featured plenty of case studies on the pages of Designer Kitchen & Bathroom in the past that demonstrate the huge transformation that a home extension can bring to the living space in the house. It is altogether less common to see a project in which the whole house next door is added to the equation.
The existing property was a Grade-II listed villa in a conservation area in St John’s Wood, North London. The purchasers owned the neighbouring semi-detatched villa and were interested in purchasing the adjoining property. They consulted architects SHH who advised to go ahead with the purchase seeing the property’s great potential to work as a remodelled family home, even though at that point it was in a run-down state and needed major conversion works after having being carved up into apartments back in the 1930s.
Unlike the other houses in the street which are designed as paired villas with a mirrored layout, created around the turn of the last century, this pair dates from the 1840s and was designed with a rotates L-shaped layout that is identical in plan form. One complication was that when the property had been concerted into apartments – and prior to it being listed – a new entrance had been created, making the building out of sync with the other properties in the street.
SHH began a long planning process with the local council to reinstate the two apartments as a single home – with an additional two-storey contemporary extension to the rear and a reinstatement of the original main entrance. Planning became a major battle lasting 18 months, with a lot of focus on the changed entrance, even though the design sought to bring the property back in line with the original design and the rest of the street and was very much supported by other local householders – but permission was granted in the end.
Additionally, at the bottom of the garden there was an adjoining cottage property. A developer had purchased the property previously and started work on it without getting the necessary consents – although the building was not listed, it was still in a conservation area. Building works had been halted and the site left in a poor state of repair. A second round of planning went in for the conversion of the cottage, which also got consent, but much more smoothly this time.
The reconfigured house sits across four-storeys with a lower-ground level and ground, first and second floors. The lower-ground floor has also been extended at the front below the parking area to house a new basement utility room.
Visitors arrive at the house via an external stair to the left of the front façade and enter into the vestibule on the raised ground floor. The eye is immediately taken by a striking bespoke timber wall opposite, with a first glimpse too (via a floor-to-ceiling glass panel) through to the glazed rear extension and garden beyond. The flooring is in engineered planks of oak used throughout the ground floor, whilst a dark-timber credenza, matching the joinery wall opposite, sits to the right of the hall space. The house has very rich details throughout as SHH’s client – who is also an architect – used to work in California and was inspired by the region’s autumnal palette of redwood trees and warm colours.
“The interior design scheme was very much a mix of the client’s existing furniture and artworks, together with new items chosen closely with the client to complement these pieces”, explained Ana Coates, Interior Designer at SHH. “A lot of research and material sourcing was done to create a varied palette of fabrics and finishes with a variety of timber used repeatedly as a unifying finish throughout the scheme and bespoke joinery items to ensure a perfect fit with the space.”
On the lower-ground floor to the rear, sitting within both the existing house space and the new extension is the large kitchen and informal dining room space, with the fully-glazed garden-facing wall of the extension able to slide fully open in good weather.
The space features honed stone flooring – in 600mm square limestone tiles – to match the outside terrace (which has a brushed finished), blurring the inside/outside boundaries further when the glass wall is fully open, with an almost flush finish.
The result is a clean and bright space with stronger tones added by further inset joinery designed by SHH in dark-stained oak with coloured felt panels, with spaces for display and an inset wall space for photos, with a joinery unit set below that also functions as a place to read or work. A bespoke Geoflame fireplace is set within a white-gold textured wall panel by Seamless Industries, whilst a bespoke natural oak dining table sits at the centre of the space with a Louis Poulsen pendant light above.
The kitchen sits at the other end of the extensive double room, featuring units with specialist joinery veneered fronts in walnut for the lower units, and white upper units and Angolan black granite for the worktops. A row of Damasco amber spun glass pendant lights sits over the extensive island unit in the centre, with four high bar chairs at the far side, meaning this area can also be used for informal dining. Bespoke floor-to-ceiling units at the far end of the kitchen area are also in dark-stained timber veneer.
Also on this floor, accessed separately via a narrow stair, with inset LED lighting zig-zagging down at both the top and bottom of the right hand wall, is the new utility space created beneath the front outside parking area.
On the first floor there are three bedrooms for the couple’s daughters, featuring bespoke joinery, reclaimed fireplaces and bespoke embroidered wallpaper commissioned from upcoming textiles star Clare Coles in each room.
One of the two bathrooms on this floor features colour-backed glass sections in green and magenta on white tiles, plus a thick resin vanity unit. A guest shower room features a photograph taken by the client’s father of Aspen trees, backed onto glass and integrated into one wall, afforded extra light by a rooflight above.
The master-bedroom suite is located on the second floor and includes the master bedroom and dressing room, which has a leather floor. It features another specialist glass panel for the shower unit, featuring seed pods from the ‘honesty’ plant, pressed between layers of specialist laminate by 3form, and a private, glass-bordere terrace looking out over the extension to the garden.
“We worked closely with our highly architecturally-articulate clients at all times to create this project,” said SHH’s Coates. “The result is a home filled with bespoke items and very personal details and features. Every element has been carefully thought out to respond to our clients’ wishes.”
SHH / shh.co.uk