sev­enth heaven

Hav­ing moved half a dozen times, one owner fi­nally fell for a listed apart­ment in Lon­don


the first thought matthew White had when he walked into the apart­ment he had just bought was, ‘What have i done?’ Fol­low­ing a four-year stint in South africa, where he ran an art gallery, the dig­i­tal con­sul­tant re­turned to the UK in 2011. af­ter a year spent search­ing for the right place, he fi­nally got lucky when an apart­ment in his de­sired neigh­bour­hood came onto the mar­ket. ‘i first bought a loft in Shored­itch in 1998 and, cape town aside, i’ve con­sid­ered this part of lon­don my home ever since,’ says matthew.

as well as the location, the apart­ment ticked sev­eral other boxes. Sit­u­ated in one of Spi­tal­fields’ land­mark build­ings, com­mis­sioned by the Pe­abody trust in the early 1850s to pro­vide af­ford­able hous­ing, the flat had am­ple char­ac­ter. how­ever, it was in need of an update and, when the keys were fi­nally in matthew’s hands, the thrill of new home own­er­ship quickly dis­ap­peared. ‘ With­out any fur­ni­ture, the sorry state of the apart­ment was sud­denly much more ap­par­ent,’ he says. ‘there were wa­ter­logged car­pets, and the win­dows were held in place with elec­tri­cal tape.’ luck­ily, he did not re­main fazed by the task ahead for long.

as this was his sev­enth ren­o­va­tion project, matthew had estab­lished a good work­ing re­la­tion­ship with a team of skilled builders in the past, as well as with ar­chi­tect David Bel­lis, of Bel­lis ar­chi­tects. ‘David is very prag­matic, and he knew the best plan was to re­move the en­tire in­te­rior,

in­clud­ing the in­ter­nal walls and ceil­ing, and start from scratch,’ matthew ex­plains.

yet, de­spite the strip-out, matthew was keen to re­tain as many orig­i­nal fea­tures as pos­si­ble while also giv­ing the com­pact space some of its his­tor­i­cal iden­tity back. ‘I just couldn’t see the point of liv­ing in a building that’s al­most 200 years old and hav­ing a su­per­mod­ern in­te­rior,’ he says.

While he has not shied away from kit­ting out the twofloor apart­ment with mod-cons, in­clud­ing an in­te­grated sound sys­tem, the look matthew chose is de­cid­edly old school, thanks, in part, to the vin­tage par­quet floor­ing he has in­stalled. ‘Fun­nily enough, it ap­pears to have come from a church in South africa,’ he says. ‘the Kubus sofa is also a twen­ties orig­i­nal, which I fished out of a skip and had re­fur­bished. It’s now as good as new.’

matthew elected to keep the in­te­rior neu­tral, al­low­ing his books and art­work from the likes of Leon mor­rocco and Craigie aitchi­son to lift the schemes. ‘a home needs to make you happy, whether it’s a for­ever place or not,’ he says. ‘ev­ery time I walk into a room, I want to be able to en­joy the space and at­mos­phere.’

Ini­tially, matthew had con­sid­ered this place to be the lat­est in a series of ren­o­va­tion projects and planned to stay for only a year or two. But the building has since won his heart and tamed his wan­der­lust. ‘that “What have I done?” mo­ment has long since passed,’ he af­firms. ‘this place feels like a real home to me now.’

1 Kitchen ‘The units are sim­ple, but they work beau­ti­fully within the con­fines of the space, which has very few straight walls,’ says Matthew. Cab­i­nets, price on ap­pli­ca­tion, How­dens. Find a sim­i­lar two-door wine cab­i­net, from £509, CDA2 hall The double-height de­sign makes the in­te­rior feel light, airy and spa­cious. Cult Liv­ing’s Chiswick wal­nut chair, £99, would work here3 Din­ing area Well-stocked open shelv­ing adds to the in­for­mal feel. Oiled beech Wish­bone chairs, £670 each, The Con­ran Shop. Tripode G5 floor lamp, from £516, Twen­tytwen­ty­one, is a close match

1 Study A se­cond bed­room on the top floor doubles as a handy light-filled work space. Darcey desk in wal­nut and oak, £399,, recre­ates this look2 Bed­room Tucked away up in the building’s eaves, this is a serene space, punc­tu­ated by pops of colour from bold tex­tiles and art­work. King & Mc­gaw sells vin­tage movie posters, from £703 Bath­room The av­o­cado-coloured suite that Matthew in­her­ited has been updated, so the room now has a so­phis­ti­cated look with sleek mar­ble tiles. Pi­etra grey mar­ble tiles, £24.97sq m, topps tiles, have a sim­i­lar look

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