Cap­i­tal gains

When writer An­abel Cut­ler bought a for­mer garage plot in north Lon­don, she had the rare op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate her own ur­ban haven from scratch

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - News - Words AN­ABEL CUT­LER Styling CLAUDIA BRYANT

When writer An­abel Cut­ler bought a for­mer garage plot in north Lon­don, she seized upon the rare op­por­tu­nity to carve out a calm­ing sanc­tu­ary in the city

Even if you were one of those peo­ple who is ut­terly in love with Lon­don, you’d still have to ad­mit that life in the cap­i­tal comes with cer­tain stresses. In a city that’s so densely pop­u­lated, it’s nigh on im­pos­si­ble to find so­lace, and I had reached the point at which my best chance for sur­vival was to cre­ate a peace­ful, in­ter­nally-fo­cused liv­ing space to pro­vide an an­ti­dote to the chaos. I craved a home that was sim­ple and beau­ti­ful – al­most monas­tic. So, when my part­ner Steve Walling­ton and I bought a garage plot in Lon­don’s Ken­sal Rise, it was a tan­ta­lis­ing chance to cre­ate a new space that was to­tally unique and re­sponded as much to our phi­los­o­phy on liv­ing well as it did to our idea of a func­tional home.

Build­ing a house from scratch in Lon­don is a rare op­por­tu­nity, and it came with the added treat of be­ing able to stay true to our de­sign aes­thetic. We agreed that the prin­ci­ples and ma­te­ri­als that would bring this con­cept to life should fol­low the Ja­panese phi­los­o­phy of wabi-sabi, which em­braces au­then­tic­ity, sim­plic­ity and nat­u­ral de­sign, and cel­e­brates beauty in the flaws that come with age. Ul­ti­mately, we were guided by the curved arches and pools of light seen in JMW Turner’s 1819 sketch, In­te­rior of an Ital­ian Church, in which the play of sun on the walls has an in­te­gral role in cre­at­ing at­mos­phere.

The Ja­panese-led ar­chi­tec­tural prac­tice Takero Shi­mazaki Ar­chi­tects fit­ted per­fectly with our ideals and, from the out­set, they had a real un­der­stand­ing of what we were try­ing to achieve. Work­ing with them over the three years it took to plan and build the twobed­room house felt like a truly cre­ative col­lab­o­ra­tion, free of any ego-driven de­ci­sions.

‘The in­ter­nal con­crete struc­ture and the strate­gi­cally made open­ings, in­clud­ing the arches and the high-level win­dow above the stairs, bring in just enough light to ar­tic­u­late the form of the build­ing’, says Takero Shi­mazaki. ‘The ex­ter­nal weath­ered chest­nut wood façade was cho­sen to closely match the tone of the con­crete. This home is a hid­den, warm oa­sis of tac­til­ity and sen­sual light.’ It is ev­ery­thing we’d hoped for, and some­where that gets bet­ter with time, grow­ing and chang­ing as we live our lives in it. We can shut the door and find still­ness and peace. It’s a mod­ern in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the word ‘ home’. Liv­ing area A plas­ter wall fin­ish by Clay­works, vel­vet cur­tain by Sally Rieder and ‘Deltille’ rug by Trine Kiel­land for The Rug Com­pany cre­ate a tac­tile space. The De La Es­pada sofa is cov­ered in ‘Epoque’ vel­vet in ‘Mole’ by Mark Alexan­der, while the cop­per side ta­ble is by Rose Uni­acke Stock­ist de­tails on p269 ➤

Pho­tog­ra­phy PAUL RAESIDE

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