Grange Hall is one of those buildings that I wouldn’t be able to walk past without pausing to take a photo – there’s just something about this façade with its weathered, rustic-looking brickwork that I can’t resist. The original West Hackney Parochial School in Stoke Newington in London’s N16 was built in 1857 as two large halls that housed the girls’ wing to the west and the boys’ wing to the east. The building was later used as a church hall, a social hall and a snooker hall, and more recently its name was changed to Grange Hall and it was used as a warehouse for electrical fittings and rare transistors.
It’s funny how some properties – and some developments – just connect with you. Years ago, way back in 1999 – and yes, I can barely believe it was so long ago! – I visited this loft development in Edinburgh’s Leith area. Named Leith Lofts, the project architects, Duffy & Batt (since reborn as Studio DuB) converted two former B listed whisky bond warehouses on Maritime Street in the heart of Leith to create 28 apartments. Buyers had the choice of purchasing a shell where they could fit out the interior themselves, or buying a completed apartment. Over the years I’ve written about a few of the lofts, and each has been interesting and unique, not only in terms of the individual spaces but also in the way each owner had interpreted and worked with the characteristics of each space.
Looking through the photos of this five bedroom house designed by John Pardey Architects, you would be forgiven for thinking that this home was in, say, California, with its flowing open plan living spaces and light-filled interior thanks to the walls of glazing, not to mention the incredible open views. But this house is on Withdean Road in Brighton, and those views stretch south across the city to the sea, and east across the South Downs.
Coastal locations are always my favourite – we escape Edinburgh every weekend for walks down the coast in East Lothian – and whenever I come across a property in Cornwall, I have to admit that the location alone is often the USP for me. Just the thought of living within walking distance of Cornwall’s beautiful coastline is enough to make me want to pack my bags.
And this property, which is on the market with Aucoot, combines its fantastic location in Bude, just a few minutes walk from Crooklets beach, with a stunning light-filled home designed by Hogarth Architects. Located on Ash Row, this six-bedroom home is part of an award winning development of four houses designed under Hogarth Architects’ development wing Hogarth Homes.
I’ve always been interested in textures – indeed, in my own home, textures have usually taken priority over colour or pattern. I’d always rather layer in interesting textures than add colours. But recently I’ve been drawn more and more to interiors that have a lived-in quality, where the patina is integral to the design of a space. A few years ago I visited a chapel conversion in Portobello – a conversion that had been tackled over a period of years by the owner – and I knew instantly that this was a house I could have moved into. The places I’ve loved for myself have all had that tactile quality: a touch of vintage, a touch of industrial, a touch of rustic, all mixed up together.
For every incredible house I come across, I’m always just as inspired when I encounter a smaller property that’s been really well thought out and designed. Indeed, living in the city means I tend to gravitate towards smaller properties – the quirky flats and fantastic mews buildings that have clever spatial design. When you look at more compact properties, so often there’s a poky internal kitchen or an even smaller and gloomy internal bathroom (my pet hate), or the flow of space is just a bit… odd.
Which brings me to this garden flat in London’s Kensal Rise – a one bedroom property where every inch of space has been considered and packed with great styling, and where the layout has been reworked to create a flow of space from the entrance right through to the rear garden.