You probably know me well enough by now to realise that I can’t resist interiors that have been designed around textures. Exposed brick, combinations of timber, metal finishes, concrete… throw texture into the mix and I’m sold. This warehouse conversion on Warley Close in London’s E10 is on the market with The Modern House and offers a striking example of how to use textures – both existing and new – as the foundation for an interior. This former industrial space has been redesigned and adapted for the current owners – a photographer/filmmaker and a musician – to create a flexible home that combines live and work spaces. Arranged over three levels, the scale alone is striking as there’s over 2,200 sq/ft of space here.
I’ve seen a number of shop conversions over the years, from a compact split-level studio space in Edinburgh’s Stockbridge area to a fantastic industrial-style loft space by Holyrood Park, and each has demonstrated ingenious ways of dealing with the spatial challenges of working within a former commercial space. How do you create a functional and desirable living space when you have limited light at street and below-street level?
This two bedroom property on West Annandale Street in Edinburgh – which has been marketed by Smart Property with photography by Dave Morris – caught my eye as, when faced with these same challenges, the owners, architect Tim Bayman and Lizzie Elliott, have created a dynamic interior that works both as a home for their family and as a work space for Tim.
Usually, when I’m looking at houses online, I’m drawn to an interior by one photo. There’s usually that one image that will catch my eye, just as the photo above did. I have a major soft spot for warehouse conversions and this one in Sydney is also a great example of indoor-outdoor flow of space – just look at that external terrace – and feels authentic with its exposed brick and chunky timber trusses. And even that one photo suggests that this home is owned by someone with a confident aesthetic and an eye for eclectic styling.
But then, this warehouse has a surprise waiting – namely, a giant sculptural white pod that’s been inserted into the main volume of the first floor living space. Architects Allen Jack+Cottier refer to this design as a ‘Mancave‘ and it was created as a private suite for the owner.
Years ago, I visited an incredible property called Sea Loft in the Fife coastal town of Kinghorn. Sea Loft was the home and studio of artists Robert Callender and Elizabeth Ogilvie, who created the space by converting a previously derelict cinema. The volume and the natural light thundering into the all-white studio was incredible, and no less so in the couple’s living area with its sea views. It was a wonderful example of a living space and studio that worked together, cohesive in design and approach, to create an unforgettable home.
And this London house, House for a Painter, although very different in location, shares that same unique quality and the wonderful sense of light and volume. Whereas Sea Loft was about views outside to the landscape, this house offers long views between the studio and living zones, an “internal landscape,” as architect Dingle Price refers to it, where one area flows into the next.
It isn’t every day that you come across a property that has been converted from a 19th century greenhouse, but then this house in the Kent village of Hawkhurst is far from your everyday property. As I was looking through the listings with The Modern House, this image above caught my eye. This photo reminded of the Victorian greenhouses that I’ve long admired within the walled garden of Cambo Estate in Fife – greenhouses that had become so decrepit in time that they were replaced this year with Alitex greenhouses that look very, very like the originals.
But even when decrepit, the originals had such character, particularly when viewed against the old brickwork of the walled garden, and – stating the obvious really – the light once inside was just beautiful. So imagine having a greenhouse like this as part of your home.
A couple of years ago I went to visit a rather unusual house in Edinburgh’s Blacket conservation area, and it’s always stayed in my mind. You know the saying, ‘you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover’? Well, The Coach House is a bit like that. From the driveway, this property doesn’t have the grandeur of its neighbours, but then this detached house has more humble origins having been built in the 19th century as accommodation and stabling for the neighbouring Blacket House.
Once inside, however, The Coach House is a revelation both in scale – the floor plan is much deeper than you might imagine – and in style thanks to its owners – journalist Alan Douglas and Viv Lumsden, a former broadcaster and journalist who, although now retired, previously worked as a news presenter for the BBC and STV, and also co-presented STV’s The Home Show with Alan for six years.