Words by Pendle Harte
The project for Guy Stansfeld involved the reconversion and extension of an existing semi-detached Victorian villa which had previously been carved up into four separate flats. Among the clients’ priorities was to have generous living spaces with ample room to display a large private art collection. A strong sense of light throughout was also desired, especially in the new basement rooms.
A simple pallet of materials runs through the house. There is a pale oak herringbone floor on the upper levels and a cast in-situ power floated concrete floor at the lower levels which, together with painted plaster walls, were chosen as a backdrop for more distinctive furniture and artwork throughout. Wall panelling was employed in the TV nook and ground floor study to create more intimate spaces. Extensive built-in joinery throughout makes efficient use of the space available as well as adding accent colours to various rooms.
The staircase features a simple ribbon of solid plaster balustrade with timber handrail, supported by bespoke cast brass brackets. At the rear of the house, the new rear extensions make use of glazed terrace floors, which also act as rooflights, bringing in generous amounts of natural light.
The house is beautiful. How big was the project and where did you begin?
Thank you. The house is not large, by west London standards, but the project was a significant undertaking as it involved an almost total rebuild of the original house, including a large new basement, on a tight, tricky site.
What was the brief?
The brief was to create a comfortable family home, maximising available light and space and to accommodate an extensive art collection.
How did you change the building’s layout?
The two really significant changes were the creation of a new basement and a total reworking of the original staircase. The house was divided into four flats when we began so there is pretty much nothing left of the original layout.
There are lots of glass doors and partitions. Can you tell us about them?
We wanted to create a sense of openness throughout the house, in particular within and between the principal floors. There was some conflict between this desire and the need to create functional spaces that could be used separately and privately. Glazed partitions provided the best of both worlds creating separation but retaining the strong visual connections that we sought.
How was the storage created?
Storage has been created on every level. It has all been integrated in such a way as to minimise its visual impact and use ‘leftover’ space as much as possible. The brief demanded a large art store which has been incorporated into the basement behind a huge secret door.
The staircase is a beautiful shape – and the halls seem so wide. Can you tell us about that?
The staircase is in fact very modest in size but the simple white sculptural shapes, huge window and skylight and the narrow double height volume all make it feel larger than it really is. The rooms are all simple rectangular spaces so we wanted the circulation spaces to be a bit softer and more organic.
Can you describe the colour scheme and the materials used?
The materials palette has been kept very simple. White walls, a mix of polished concrete and oak parquet on the floors, black Crittal windows and subtle details highlighted in brass. The idea was to make calm, beautiful spaces and to let the owners’ collection of beautiful art and furniture shine. We were lucky enough to have, in Bodil, a client with a fantastic eye for style and colour. We worked very closely together to ensure a seamless continuity between the architecture and interior design.