English Translation: A Compact Victorian Gets an Eclectic but Cohesive Makeover
Here at Remodelista, we’re pretty omnivorous when it comes to architectural and interior styles. We can admire a dressed-to-the-nines formal home (like this one) and, in the same breadth, applaud a rustic DIY cabin with no running water (like this one). Sometimes, though, we happen upon projects that make us want to pack up and move right in. Paul West’s duplex, in a compact London Victorian, falls into this special category.
It helps that the space itself is blessed with good bones. “There was so much to love,” says Paul about why he chose to buy it five years ago. “At first glance, lots of space, mature garden, quiet street, original character, and the large, well-proportioned rooms. The whole space felt like a perfect canvas to create a home for living in.”
Paul studied interior architecture and used to work for various design and architecture studios (he is now a strategy director at a brand experience agency), so he was particularly knowledgeable about what to keep (the molding, the generously sized windows), what to restore (the pocket shutters), what to tweak (oak floors were given a lime wash), what to add (new built-in storage), and what to throw out and rebuild (the kitchen). While he kept the footprint largely the same, there was “considerable work undertaken on the fabric of the building, the roof, the facade, garden, kitchen, bathroom, carpentry, heating, the storage,” says Paul.
With the fundamentals in place, he was ready to fill it—but not too much. “We have quite eclectic tastes, inspired by lots of eras and ideas,” he says of his and his partner’s design sensibility (she moved in not long ago). “However, we tend to seek a few qualities: integrity, functionality, human, lasting, honest, forgiving. We like the functionality of and simplicity of modernism, the optimism and creativity of mid-century, and the honesty and timelessness of studio crafts. However, it all has to be useful or beautiful, as William Morris once said!”
Come take a tour of the sanctuary they’ve created. (And guess what? It’s for sale! Go to The Modern House for the listing information and follow Paul’s Instagram account @consideredthings for more photos.)
Photography courtesy of The Modern House.
Above: The Victorian townhouse has three floors; Paul and his partner, Michelle Bower, live in the lower duplex, which totals 1,250 square feet. The entrance, featuring checkerboard terracotta tiles, is on the street level. The hallway leads to stairs that go up to the living room and kitchen. Above: A Matthew Hilton sofa and a pair of mid-century Poul Kjærholm lounge chairs provide comfortable seating in the light-filled living room. Above: “The shutters are super-practical. I discovered one hidden behind a plasterboard wall by the window, and they had to be remade as a working pair,” says Paul. Above: A round mirror from Habitat is “probably the most contemporary item in the house,” says Paul, who collects ceramics. “I have made a few also. Michelle sent me on a pottery course to cure my obsession, but it ended up making it worse. The pottery hunt is the highlight of any antiques market adventure, here or overseas.” Above: Paul relaxes on his favorite piece of furniture in the home, the Spanish Chair by Borge Mogsensen. The speakers are a BBC design, from Harbeth UK; the amplifier, on top the low console, is from Jadis in France. “Technology is often too flashy, showy and doesn’t integrate well with the spaces we live in,” he notes. Above: The view from the kitchen into the living room. The wall-hung Lampe Gras lamp works as a task light in the space. Above: “Everything is built in to the handmade cabinets—including two fridges, a dishwasher, and storage. I designed the kitchen, and oversaw the build. It’s a joy to use and one of our favorite features,” shares Paul. Above: The kitchen cabinets are painted Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe. The stove is by Smeg. Above: A vintage baker’s rack serves as open storage in the kitchen. Above: “It’s great having open storage, especially when it’s full of things you love. It also means you keep check on what you really use and enjoy, and unused things don’t build up.” Above: Downstairs, the street-facing master bedroom is kept light and bright. An oversized Rice Paper Lampshade by Hay hovers over the Flag Halyard Chair by Hans Wegner. Above: Paul made sure there’s plenty of built-in storage. Lamps by Original BTC sit on nightstands from Forest in London. Above: Paul, on his partner’s contributions to the home: “Anything you see that’s yellow in the photos. There’s certainly a love for yellow! Pure optimism. We have chosen things together, reshaped layouts, and transformed some decor from dark to light—for example, the garden room is now a creative space for painting, making, drawing, and writing.” Above: The garden room also acts as a guest room. Paul designed the platform bed, and his dad made it: “A West x West collaboration!” he says. “We love it. It’s made of solid oak, recycled from an old school. Charlotte Perriand was my inspiration.” (“If you look closely, you might spot the Remodelista book in the garden room bookcase,” he adds.) Above: Paul commissioned the oak desk to fit the space. Above: When Paul first moved in, the garden, while mature, wasn’t in a great state. ” I didn’t know very much about gardening before living here but have grown to love it. It’s a regular ritual to wind down and feel ‘grounded.’ The whole process is a bit trial and error, but that’s part of the fun.” Wisteria and jasmine frame the building. Above: The stone patio gives way to gravel. “It’s very practical, feels good, and is easy to maintain,” says Paul.
For more inspiring London homes, see:
A Rising Star’s Spirited London Home: ‘Every Room Should Sing!’ Under the Eaves: A Brick House Reinvention in South London by Simon Astridge A Star Is Born: A Rehabbed London Maisonette from a Newly Minted Designer, High/Low Secrets Included #Victorian #Fireplaces&Hearths #Remodel&Renovation #Antiques&Vintage #HouseTour