I have a list of blog posts that I’ve been meaning to share, but sometimes you spot something randomly, and it seems to fit the mood of whatever you’ve been thinking about, right? The Mountain Refuge caught my eye when scrolling on Dezeen last week (you can see Dezeen’s feature here) for a few reasons. Like most people, we haven’t had a chance to escape this year, and ‘escape’ for us usually means going some place quiet, away from people, and spending a week or so just connected with nature. And this year, my desire for a more remote lifestyle has really kicked in. (I’m guessing that I’m not alone in this.) As we’ve grown more accustomed to being away from people, I’ve realised that this is how I’d like to live. Find me some place remote, by the sea, with a great broadband connection (the tricky bit), and I’ll be there. You can dream, right?
It feels as if spring has shifted into summer this week, even though we’re still in May. The biggest challenge of our home in summer is the temperature. We face south-east at the back where there’s a glass-roofed conservatory that’s our dining room, and as this is open to the kitchen and the sitting room there’s really no way of preventing this heat from just …. seeping everywhere. If you’re someone who really enjoys warmth, you’d love this set up. If, like me, you really can’t handle heat and enjoy cooler days, you’d be dreaming of escaping to a house that was well ventilated, with extensive glazing in the right places (not on the roof in other words), and open plan living where every space feels comfortable all year round.
So hello again. It’s been a while. Of all the things that I imagined might draw me back here to blog again, a global pandemic wasn’t one of them. But look at how much our lives have changed in a few short weeks. Short weeks that feel so much longer. Two weekends back we were in Fife visiting Cambo Estate; having a bite of lunch in their café and walking in the walled garden; visiting the glasshouses before winding through the woodland with its carpet of snowdrops. We walked along Kingsbarns beach in the low, late afternoon light, enjoying the peace and emptiness of the scene. Two weeks ago, we couldn’t even have imagined the rules of social distancing; friends losing all their work and closing the doors to their businesses, unsure of when they might open again. A country in lockdown with all the restrictions this brings. A world in crisis.
How do you build a house on an unspoilt natural site without destroying the very nature that makes that site so special? This was the question faced by the owners of Villa Åkerman when they came to this plot in Värmdö, which sits in the middle of the Stockholm Archipelago, back in 2013. Albert and Amanda Åkerman wanted to create a family home that would embrace the nature surrounding it while also respecting the site. As Albert says in an interview published in Swedish Elle Decoration in June 2016, even if the house isn’t here in 100 years, the couple wanted the rock that it sits upon to be intact.
So hello. It’s been a while – since September last year to be precise. I took a blog break that became an extended blog break, and then I wasn’t sure when or indeed if I was coming back here. I’d been working on some other ideas – hopefully a new venture this year. I decided to spend less time at my desk. But I kept bookmarking ideas for blog posts. And occasionally an email would arrive with a great product range and I’d immediately think, ‘I have to blog about this…’ So I’ve been saving ideas waiting for the time when I wanted to sit down and write – and if I decided not to, well, that was fine too.
And then yesterday I was browsing Dezeen and I spotted this house. Random, but interesting, and it reminded me that I used to enjoy blogging about random and interesting things. Not planned posts as such. Just things I liked. Wasn’t that why I started Copperline in the first place? So, the best way to start writing anything again is just to start.
When I look at this house, just as a set of photos without any of the accompanying details, I’d never guess that it was located in London. From the choice of materials to the quiet restraint of the design, to details such as the pebbled courtyard garden, I visualise this house in a much less urban setting; a peaceful place away from the hustle of the city.
Yet this house sits on Tiverton Road, between Kensal Rise and Queens Park in London’s NW10, and this ‘quiet’ design offers a respite from the urban environment that extends out beyond it. Currently on the market with The Modern House, this property is described as a ‘monastic oasis’, and I can’t think of a better description for a design as pared back and beautifully simple and thoughtful as this.