A home should tell a story. A narrative that in some way reflects the owners’ lives. It’s all too easy to design a home that says more about the designer than the client, which can happen when a client offers no input or ideas of their own, or when a designer simply imposes a solution without reference to the client. Here is a house that was a long and intense collaboration between designers and client. I should know, as it was one of the last design projects I was involved in, alongside Corin Morton, an architect then working for Metropolitan Project Shop, and now with Brighton based Camillin Denny.
Unlike many smart London homes which tend to be tall and narrow, the owners fell for this white stucco building in Notting Hill primarily because of its width, and that there were only 2 main floors. The building was then deconstructed, extended and put back together in such away to allow maximum connectivity. That’s not to say that individual rooms have been sacrificed for open plan living, but rather that, links and openings have been formed to create a flow around the house. When privacy and separation are required, large sliding doors can close off areas, so the house can be both open and relaxed, while still retaining the elegant proportions of a 19th century villa.
There are many surprises in this house. Open a door, and you are likely to encounter an unexpectedly bright colour beyond, like an intensely coloured silk lining to a sombre suit. The biggest surprise however, is the first thing to hit you once through the front door. The unapologetic gloss red of the staircase, which flows almost drape-like from floor to floor. Corin’s inspiration was an unfurling ribbon.
There is much that is personal to the owners throughout, but perhaps the most intimate element is the finish on the full height cupboards in the piano room. We had searched for some time for an interesting treatment for this large storage wall, when I stumbled on the exquisite work of Based Upon. Using patented techniques in molten metal and resin, they have created an artwork which not only incorporates family momentos and photos set within the resin, but also uses a blown-up print made from the very lines on the palm of one of the children’s hands, turning a functional storage unit into an abstract work of art.