Prac­ti­cal Magic

Lisa’s all about func­tion, Joel’s all about form, but to­gether, they’ve cre­ated a beau­ti­ful home that works on ev­ery level

Living Etc - - CONTENTS ⁄ETC - Pho­tog­ra­phy ⁄ Paul Massey * Words ⁄ Joanna Sim­mons

team­work was the vi­tal in­gre­di­ent in lisa and Joel’s as­ton­ish­ing trans­for­ma­tion of an ed­war­dian ter­race

‘I could never have any kind of knick­knack in my house,’ says Lisa Craw­ford. ‘If it doesn’t serve a pur­pose, it’s point­less!’ So speaks a woman who places func­tion­al­ity above fancy flour­ishes on her home de­sign pri­or­ity list. But if you think that sounds a lit­tle strict, take a look at the house she shares with hus­band Joel and chil­dren Ru­fus and Matilda. Gor­geous, tac­tile ma­te­ri­als, such as pol­ished con­crete, flint-grey mar­ble and re­cy­cled wood form its back­bone. Orig­i­nal art­work in­jects colour and per­son­al­ity and a mix of vin­tage pieces and clev­erly adapted finds adds yet more heart. Su­per-func­tional it may be, but this place feels warm and stylish too.

In fact, the house beau­ti­fully re­flects the tastes of both its own­ers. ‘We’ve found a happy medium with style,’ says Lisa. ‘Joel is in­cred­i­bly de­sign fo­cused, but some­what im­prac­ti­cal. He’d ide­ally like the kitchen work­top to be com­pletely clear, without even a sink or hob on it to mess up the clean lines!’ she adds, laugh­ing. ‘For me, though, it has to be func­tional. I want my house to work, not just be a piece of art.’

Swedish Lisa was raised in Abu Dhabi, but her func­tional aes­thetic speaks of her Scandi roots. ‘I try to de­sign in­stinc­tively,’ she says. ‘There’s too much in­spi­ra­tion out there, so it can get con­fus­ing. On our last ren­o­va­tion, we were us­ing tear sheets from mag­a­zines. Now, there’s so much choice.’

Nat­u­rally drawn to­wards a mono­chrome pal­ette of pure white walls and black wood­work, Lisa has in­cluded lots of built-in fur­ni­ture, which teams prac­ti­cal­ity with style. An in­te­grated fu­ton in the fam­ily room is both comfy and space-ef­fi­cient, while a wall of kitchen cabi­nets is made from Ikea car­casses fronted with ply­wood. ‘They reach from floor to ceil­ing,’ says Lisa. ‘After see­ing all the dust that can ac­cu­mu­late on the tops of cup­boards, I’m ob­sessed with this kind of stor­age. Any­thing else also wastes space and I want the house to feel as big as pos­si­ble.’

As a build­ing de­signer, Lisa mapped out the key changes to the prop­erty her­self, be­fore en­list­ing a struc­tural en­gi­neer to draw up the plans. She rethought the poorly de­signed loft bed­room and en suite and on the ground floor ex­tended into the side re­turn to cre­ate a spa­cious area at the back of the house. This now con­tains a liv­ing, din­ing and cook space, with the kitchen clev­erly po­si­tioned along an in­ter­nal wall. ‘You often have the kitchen down one side in this kind of ex­ten­sion, but then you can’t fit in a table and chairs and a seat­ing area,’ she says. ‘We wanted all that in here.’

Now this is the mul­ti­task­ing heart of the home, with Ru­fus and Matilda often cov­er­ing the floor with art ma­te­ri­als for a morn­ing’s creative play. ‘We spend 90 per cent of our time in here,’ says Lisa, ‘but it isn’t al­ways this tidy!’

Away from the busy fam­ily hub, a liv­ing room at the front pro­vides a cosy re­treat, which in­cludes a wood burner. ‘We com­pletely opened up our last home, so there was no room you could go into to en­joy some quiet,’ Joel ex­plains. ‘It’s nice to have a snug sit­ting room, es­pe­cially in win­ter with the fire on.’ This space is sep­a­rated phys­i­cally, but not vis­ually, from the hall­way by the glass and tim­ber doors that used to lead into the gar­den, now re-in­vented as a beau­ti­ful par­ti­tion. ‘Th­ese pe­riod homes can feel a bit dark, with lots of lit­tle rooms,’ says Joel. ‘Here, the sin­gle most im­por­tant thing was get­ting light into the house. We like liv­ing in a light box!’

As much of the fur­ni­ture is built-in, the rooms have an un­clut­tered feel, with just a few free­stand­ing pieces dot­ted around. Most are vin­tage finds or one-offs, snapped up on ebay or Etsy. ‘We don’t dis­like new things,’ says Lisa, ‘it’s just quite hard to find things we want.’ That’s why there’s no cof­fee table in the liv­ing room and why the same set of sim­ple Ikea din­ing chairs has fol­lowed the fam­ily through four dif­fer­ent houses. ‘It takes time to make a home,’ says Joel. ‘You can’t go on a big shop­ping spree and buy it in one go’ – par­tic­u­larly when you and your wife are hav­ing an on­go­ing debate over aes­thet­ics and func­tion­al­ity! ‘So what should come first: de­sign or func­tion?’ Joel asks, smil­ing at Lisa. ‘I think you can have both,’ she says. Judg­ing by this beau­ti­ful home, we reckon she’s spot-on.

Find out more about Lisa’s work at thes­pace­ol­o­gists.com

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