The British do simplicity just as eloquently as the Scandinavians, as this London home’s interior shows
‘A contemporary scheme like this could feel stark, but the unpolished concrete and the timber tone that down. They will age well and become more interesting with time’
This west London home, once an ordinary Victorian terrace, has been transformed thanks to a strong architectural vision. ‘The view of the magnificent magnolia tree in the garden was the starting point for the project,’ says architect Rob Excell of the architectural practice Mclaren Excell, who added an extension to the rear of the property and converted the warren of poky rooms into one space. Two vast picture windows, both set onto angled external concrete plinths, frame this garden view: one slides open to form a window seat, while the other ( beside the dining table) is fixed.
The ceiling above is angled to form a series of wedge-like blocks, and daylight pours in through a pair of rooflights. ‘The owners, Susan Usher and Abeni Akindele, wanted to avoid creating something that looked like a large, square air hangar tacked onto the property,’ says Rob. As such, the effect – as seen from the garden – is of two pitched roofs that interlock, one leaning into the other.
Inside, two materials dominate the space: all of the flooring on the ground floor is concrete, while the walls are panelled in oak. These finishes extend to the main features of the house – both the large kitchen island and the bathroom vanity area appear to rise up from the poured concrete floor. ‘We chose both materials for their warmth,’ says Rob. ‘A contemporary scheme like this could feel stark, but the unpolished concrete and the timber tone that down. They will age well and become more interesting with time.’ The oak cladding is treated with white oil – a clear coating that tempers the wood finish – and features tapered battens at regular intervals. ‘These break up the expanse of timber,’ explains Rob. Much of the cladding conceals storage, and extends in an unbroken line through the house to the living area at the front. As this room features traditional cornicing and high ceilings, the design helps to blur the lines between old and new. Where the panelling reaches the bay window, it transforms into an elegant series of shutters, which provide privacy and fold back completely when not in use. A simple oak staircase, mounted on a concrete plinth, continues the scheme to the second floor, where the same materials are celebrated. ‘The concrete lends the entire house a solidity from the ground up,’ says Rob. mclarenexcell.com
The large kitchen island and the bathroom vanity area appear to rise up from the poured concrete floor
Details The house’s oak panelling transforms into screening around the large bay window. The dining table was imported from Bali (find similar at Heal’s), while the chairs are by Naoto Fukasawa for Maruni, available at Twentytwentyone. A ‘CH25’ chair...