Home and away

A base that re­flects its owners’ trav­els

The Guardian - Weekend - - Contents -

When Mag­nus Pet­tersen and Ella Jones vis­ited Ja­pan in Septem­ber 2017, they were ob­sessed with the slid­ing pa­per walls and wooden par­ti­tions they saw ev­ery­where, from Tokyo to Ky­oto. These tra­di­tional pan­els have formed the ba­sis of their ma­jor re­vamp of a run­down Vic­to­rian ter­race, which they have filled with ar­chi­tec­tural de­tails and finds from their trav­els.

The cou­ple bought their house in east Lon­don last year: the con­verted loft, ex­tended kitchen and big gar­den sold it for them, but years as a shared rental had left the in­te­rior ne­glected. Pe­riod fea­tures had been ripped out and the ground-floor lay­out was dis­jointed: an en­trance hall led to an en­larged front room with a bath­room be­hind it, in the mid­dle of the house. So they knocked through the in­ter­nal walls, re­mov­ing the bath­room, and an open-plan liv­ing area emerged. They wanted to lay con­crete floor­ing through­out, so they dropped the floor level at the front to meet the kitchen, where there had been a step down. Adding a sup­port­ing beam meant mov­ing the stair­case. “It was quite rick­ety and un­safe, with re­ally nar­row steps,” Jones says. They fit­ted a sleek wooden stair­case and painted the treads black.

The Ja­panese-style dec­o­ra­tive pan­els di­vide this space – cre­at­ing a screen by the front door where the for­mer hall­way stood and par­tially di­vid­ing the kitchen from the liv­ing area. The cou­ple de­signed them from opaque reeded glass and sapele African hard­wood, sourced from a lo­cal tim­ber sup­plier. “We wanted the ground floor to feel cosy with­out re­mov­ing its open-plan feel,” Jones says. “The glass al­lows light to ra­di­ate through and the wood softens the space.”

They also turned to colour. In the liv­ing area, your eye is drawn to a vivid cerulean-blue wall in the kitchen, which con­trasts with earthy neu­trals, greys, blacks, mus­tard and pale pinks else­where in the house. The cou­ple were in­spired by a pal­ette cre­ated by the ar­chi­tect Le Cor­bus­ier, de­signed to be nat­u­rally har­mo­nious (le­scouleurs.ch), and matched shades from min­eral-paint com­pany Keim. “Our choices were very safe at first, then →

we said, ‘Let’s go with the blue.’ The builders thought we were mad, but we love it,” Jones says.

She and Pet­tersen moved the kitchen units to the op­po­site wall, adding dou­ble doors out to the gar­den and a sky­light above. Chairs – Ton’s 77 chair (ton.eu) – sit around a large wooden din­ing ta­ble, de­signed by Pet­tersen, with glass pen­dant lights by Tom Dixon above. The wooden kitchen units – de­signed to look more like fur­ni­ture than a fit­ted kitchen, Jones says – are teamed with a ter­razzo-stone work­top. The splash­back and open shelv­ing are fin­ished in el­e­gant tade­lakt-style plas­ter, giv­ing a mar­ble-like fin­ish that’s pop­u­lar in Moroc­can ar­chi­tec­ture, and which is used here and in the first-floor bath­room, pre­vi­ously a bed­room. “We wanted to use re­peat­ing ma­te­ri­als through­out, ty­ing ev­ery­thing to­gether.”

Moroc­can rugs fill the ground floor; Jones sources and sells them in her Hack­ney shop, A New Tribe (anewtribe.co.uk). Pet­tersen’s alu­minium Bea­con lamp, pro­duced for Iit­tala, stands on one of his side­boards in the liv­ing area (mag­nus­pet­tersen.com). Its mus­tard-coloured doors and the yel­low SCP sofa add pops of colour.

In their bed­room, the pair jet­ti­soned bed­side ta­bles, opt­ing in­stead for a built-in head­board; a shelf above has space for books and ob­jects, from Ja­panese straw slip­pers to a dec­o­ra­tive ar­row head found in Santa Fe. “There’s some­thing re­ally sat­is­fy­ing about trans­form­ing a prop­erty,” Jones says. “But it was hard work. Next year we’re plan­ning a hol­i­day.”

Pre­vi­ous pages, left: the liv­ing area, with lamp and side­board by Mag­nus Pet­tersen; right, built-in head­board and bed­ding from linenme. com; a glass screen forms a hall­way be­hind the sofa. This page: a dec­o­ra­tive skull; the tade­lakt fin­ish in the bath­room (topcret.com); Moroc­can rugs and cush­ions; the kitchen/din­ing room

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