We pre­dict that th­ese old-school spa­ces are back on the rise in mod­ern homes. In­te­ri­ors au­thor Stafford Cliff ex­plains all

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Contents -

I’m a great be­liever in the say­ing ‘what goes around, comes around’. The Ger­man philoso­pher Hegel saw the con­cept as a spi­ral be­tween the the­sis and the an­tithe­sis; one gen­er­a­tion cre­ates the the­sis (or trend) and the next gen­er­a­tion re­acts against it. Then the fol­low­ing gen­er­a­tion re­dis­cov­ers the best of the first idea, and de­vel­ops it for them­selves. Don’t you re­call that when TV be­came pop­u­lar, peo­ple said it would be the death of cin­ema? And when CDS were in­vented, it seemed like the end of vinyl? Re­cently, I learned that there’s a new trend for re­viv­ing old-fash­ioned rooms, such as pantries, that peo­ple can only have known about from their grand­par­ents – or from Down­ton Abbey.

Michael Reeves, ac­claimed in­te­rior and fur­ni­ture de­signer, says the trend is about ‘zon­ing’. ‘ Where peo­ple have the space, they are ask­ing for strongly des­ig­nated ar­eas. I’m work­ing on a home at the mo­ment that has a li­brary with space for a pi­ano, a whole room for laun­dry, and a walk-in larder. I do think that li­braries in par­tic­u­lar are very im­por­tant, but, be­cause they’re such a lux­ury, peo­ple would prob­a­bly also in­cor­po­rate an of­fice so that the room has another func­tion. I also think peo­ple still want big all-singing, all-danc­ing kitchens – frankly I’ve never un­der­stood it my­self, be­cause those who want them don’t tend to cook much.’

Kitchens, laun­dries and larders are now the rooms with the great­est sta­tus, it seems. Richard Coutts, ar­chi­tect and founder of Baca Homes, has no­ticed that wealthy clients ‘ like to have a din­ing room with a “front of house” kitchen, and then, tucked be­hind it, a work­ing kitchen where the ma­jor­ity of the meals are cooked’. James Soane, co-founder of ar­chi­tec­ture and in­te­rior de­sign firm Project Or­ange, has just fin­ished a new­build fam­ily house in the Suf­folk coun­try­side that has a for­mal din­ing room/study/sit­ting room at the front, and a ‘ back of house’ with a huge open-plan kitchen/din­ing room/ lounge. Even in Soane’s smaller city projects, the kitchen is king: ‘ We find that there’s a ten­sion be­tween the size of the kitchen that de­vel­op­ers are ask­ing for (quite big) and what we think peo­ple re­ally re­quire,’ he ex­plains.

For de­signer Sue Tim­ney, it’s the need for pri­vacy that’s driv­ing the re­vival of old-fash­ioned spa­ces in mod­ern homes. ‘It’s no longer a case of open, open, open ev­ery space un­til you live in one area that com­bines ev­ery­thing and gets kind of messed up,’ she muses. ‘ We’re shar­ing so much nowa­days, but shar­ing ev­ery as­pect of your home is some­thing that you can now choose not to do. A laun­dry room is a good ex­am­ple. No­body wants to have their wash­ing ma­chine and tum­ble dryer on show in their kitchen. Larders are also com­ing back, as they keep an as­pect of the kitchen sep­a­rate.’

In­te­rior de­signer Mark Lewis has fond me­mories of the walk-in larder in his child­hood home, a lovely house in the Wye Val­ley. ‘If I can see the op­tion to in­te­grate a larder into the lay­out of some­one’s house, I’ll do it,’ he says. ‘It doesn’t have to be more than three or four square me­tres, as long as you can walk into it. I work mostly with Vic­to­rian and Ge­or­gian ar­chi­tec­ture, and you have this aw­ful thing called a fit­ted kitchen, which is so out of place in that type of build­ing. I make my kitchens look as sim­ple as pos­si­ble, re­mov­ing the wall cup­boards and in­stalling sim­ple shelv­ing; yes, that means less stor­age, but then you bolt on a pantry and sud­denly the client’s wor­ries about stor­age are for­got­ten. If you’ve got the flex­i­bil­ity to

move the walls any­where, I’d have a good-sized kitchen, a good­sized larder, and a sep­a­rate liv­ing area. I’d ditch the din­ing room.’

At the other end of the house, there’s the ques­tion of dress­ing rooms. In the 18th cen­tury it was com­mon for fash­ion­able ladies to en­ter­tain in theirs, but they’re be­ing re­vived as pri­vate spa­ces – and they’re equally pop­u­lar with men. ‘ Whereas pre­vi­ously one would have seen the lady of the house have far more space for cloth­ing and shoes, now cou­ples need as much space as each other,’ ob­serves Richard Coutts. ‘Many of our clients want us to de­sign the house so that the hus­band and wife can dis­ap­pear into sep­a­rate ar­eas. They at­tribute long and suc­cess­ful mar­riages to this!’

Michael Reeves con­curs. ‘ We hardly do a project now where clients don’t want his and hers bath­rooms and dress­ing rooms,’ he says. ‘Th­ese are peo­ple’s pri­vate spa­ces. If you’re do­ing your makeup, read­ing a book, or play­ing the pi­ano, it’s about the need for pri­vacy, and hav­ing a des­ig­nated area of the home that’s your own.’

Along with wash­ing ma­chines and tum­ble dry­ers, tele­vi­sions and tech­nol­ogy are other things we are in­creas­ingly keen to par­ti­tion off. ‘Tele­vi­sion has long dom­i­nated the life of ev­ery­one, but now peo­ple are tak­ing the room that used to be the par­lour and mak­ing it into a li­brary – some­where that the me­dia doesn’t dom­i­nate so much,’ says Tim­ney. ‘Peo­ple are re­turn­ing to old-fash­ioned pur­suits like read­ing. I love the idea of the calm away from the storm.’ Most of the homes Coutts works on have some kind of li­brary. ‘Though we live in a dig­i­tal age, it seems that peo­ple are even more pre­cious now about hav­ing books around them. Whether it’s a small space in­te­grated within a staircase or a mez­za­nine over­look­ing a dou­ble-height liv­ing room, li­braries are used for mo­ments of quiet re­flec­tion and peace. They are a nice an­ti­dote to liv­ing life at 100 miles an hour; an ideal place for gath­er­ing one’s thoughts.’ Or, per­haps, for plan­ning what sort of feast you’re go­ing to rus­tle up from your larder.


For de­signer Sue Tim­ney, it’s the need for pri­vacy that’s driv­ing the re­vival of spa­ces such as larders, li­braries and laun­dry rooms in mod­ern homes

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