A remodelled London home is full of light, plants – and the owners’ favourite colour. By Dominic Bradbury. Photographs by Michael Sinclair
A London house full of light, plants and colour
Green’ is the word that immediately springs to mind when to describing Liza and Matt Giles’ double-fronted Victorian house in Peckham. Ever y room, from the attic studio to the downstairs loo, features flashes of the colour. ‘Stylish’ and ‘calm’ would probably come a close second and third. Each of the four floors has huge windows, covetable furnishings, art-lined walls and house plants – pots and pots of them–which create an inviting whole. That this is a family home–they have two young sons, Arlo, four, and Elwood, six – is enough to induce pangs of inadequacy in visitors.
The couple do have a few advantages when it comes to planning a new house. Matt is a partner at Giles Pike Architects, which has a strong residential focus, while Liza is a freelance stylist
‘Matt prefers clean, modern interiors and I love antiques and industrial pieces, but the combination works well’
and painter, who has worked with Designers Guild for many years.
‘We have always loved doing a project together,’ says Liza. ‘We usually star t by sketching ideas out over dinner. That’s the fun part, before we drill down to the details. Matt prefers clean, modern interiors and I love antiques and industrial pieces, but the combination seems to work well for us.’
The Giles family used to live just two doors down on the same south-london street. Liza and Matt both love the area, which has a strong community feel, and were tempted by the prospect of more space and a bigger garden. When their current home came on the market initially, they felt it might be too much of a stretch for them. But a few years later–after serving time as a nursery school – t he building was put up for sale again in 2010, and Liza and Matt agreed it was time to take the plunge.
‘We were in a typical, tall London townhouse, where you end up living in the basement kitchen and going up and down stairs all day,’ says Liza. ‘Being double-fronted, this house allows a more lateral way of living, which makes a massive difference, especially when you have children.’
The building dates from the 1880s and, as well as being a home and nursery, at one time it was a church-run hostel. Over the years, almost all the period features, such as fireplaces and cornicing, had been lost, while the floor plan was convoluted. Matt worked on adjusting the layout, particularly on the ground floor, to create a sense of connection between the main living spaces and make the most of the natural light.
‘We wanted to open everything up a nd cre ate more f low t h rough t he house,’ says Matt, ‘The hallway used to be t his dark tunnel, so we put in tall openings to the new kitchen and the sitt ing room on eit her side. Then we put in large Critt all windows at the back of the house to open the spaces up to the garden.’
The old kitchen has been replaced with a garden room that sits at the foot of the stairs. This airy, light-filled space has shelves lined with books and a pro fusion of plants, creating a leafy oasis with garden views in the centre of the house.
There was also space enough across the four storeys of the house to create private re treats for the whole family. The children have a den in the basement, Matt has a study on the first floor and Liz a has a painting studio in the attic.
Despite their love of a project – they recently renovated and sold another property nearby–the Giles’ have decided that this is a ‘forever house’.
‘It always feels very calm, which is great after you have been fighting your way through the London traffic,’ adds Liza, ‘ We are here as a family for t he long term.’
‘We wanted to open everything up and create more flow through the house’
Left The kitchen units and island are a bespoke design by Matt’s firm, Giles Pike Architects (gilespike.com), using Cararra marble worktops. Matt and Liza wanted to avoid having any wallmounted units above the height of the worktops, which allows wall...