Nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion

A re­mod­elled Lon­don home is full of light, plants – and the own­ers’ favourite colour. By Do­minic Brad­bury. Pho­to­graphs by Michael Sin­clair

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - NEWS - gile­; liza­g­

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’

25 March 2017 | The Tele­graph Mag­a­zine

Left The kitchen units and is­land are a be­spoke de­sign by Matt’s firm, Giles Pike Ar­chi­tects (gile­, us­ing Cararra mar­ble work­tops. Matt and Liza wanted to avoid hav­ing any wall­mounted units above the height of the work­tops, which al­lows wall...

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