Bold hues, textures and patterns form the foundation of Harriet Dell’s cleverly redesigned garden flat
Harriet Dell cleverly redesigned her flat for a cool and quirky space
After a 17 years in the north London garden flat she shares with her son and daughter, Harriet decided it was time for
change. With one bathroom between the three of them, and with Syd’s bedroom little more than a narrow box room, the property was in desperate need of renovation to keep up with the family’s needs.
Harriet had done a little work initially when she moved into the flat. ‘I bought it from an elderly lady and the place hadn’t been touched since the 1960s – and not in a good way,’ she says. While she chose the property for its room sizes and garden, she tweaked the layout for a bigger kitchen-dining space.
However, as Harriet’s family grew, it became apparent the design was no longer working. ‘When I moved here, it was just me with Chilli, and we only needed one bathroom,’ she says. ‘Syd’s room was our former spare room, a narrow strip of a room, which was no longer big enough for his friends to stay over or space to play.’
The first step was to find an architect. ‘Another architect thought my job was too small but recommended Johanna Ahrberg Johnson. We clicked from day one,’ Harriet says. ‘I’d asked for an extension across the back of the flat, however, she saw the bigger picture. She reconfigured the rooms to work much better for us all.’
For the same budget, Johanna planned to enhance the home by reworking
Syd’s space and creating a splendid master suite in the basement, with a muchneeded second bathroom and utility area. It was a space that until this time had been had been severely underused. ‘It was just a large, white, cold rectangle,’ Harriet says. ‘The heating didn’t work, and it was damp and uninviting.’
Meanwhile Chilli’s room was reduced in size, with part of her study area used to extend the hallway and make a new entrance to the family bathroom. Harriet believes it’s actually improved her daughter’s room. ‘Although she has lost space, she has gained more storage and it works better,’ she says. ‘With its close proximity to the bathroom and hallway, it now feels like a self-contained flat.’
The newly refurbished flat has provided the perfect backdrop for Harriet’s mid-century furnishings. But the biggest statement is Harriet’s bold choice of colours. She made a conscious decision to move on from her previous ‘mainly monochrome interior’. Her friend Sarah, a designer who runs Sarah Thomas Interiors, encouraged ‘brave’ decisions like painting her bedroom ceiling green.
‘The painter argued against it, so I gave in, but I hated it and made him paint it my way,’ Harriet says. ‘He even reluctantly agreed that it looked a lot better!’
Having Sarah to help her make these choices was immensely helpful to Harriet. ‘She was always there at the end of the phone when I felt overwhelmed or panicked,’ she says. ‘Not being part of a couple can be liberating as you don’t have to compromise, but sometimes decisions need to be backed by someone you trust.’
The build took around three months, and despite going over budget – thanks to the master suite’s reclaimed wood wall and en suite tiles – Harriet is thrilled with the end result. Next, she plans to save up to add more bathroom tiles to the bare wall. ‘We now have a warm family home to meet everyone’s needs – my young son, an older daughter and her boyfriend, plus sociable evenings and quiet nights in.’