INTERNATIONAL FRIDAYS: THE MODERN HOUSEBOAT
Every so often I’ll come across a property that just stops me in my tracks. It might be a great piece of architecture; it might be a super-cool interior or an amazing location. Or, in this case, it might be all three. When I spotted this ‘house’ while scanning through the holiday lets available from The Modern House (and there are some beauties on there, believe me) it reminded me afresh of the many unique and exciting forms of contemporary architecture that are out there to be experienced, including architecture that just happens to be on water.
Maybe it’s just me but when I hear the word ‘houseboat’ I’m visualizing something a little more, well, rustic. Characterful, yes, but perhaps also a little cramped. I’m certainly not visualizing a striking and minimal floating house with an entire wall of glazing and a fantastic open plan living space. Nor a structure of such graphic simplicity, where the interior is pared back to the essentials so as not to detract from the views, but where those essentials are also beautifully designed.
10 MAGDALA MEWS, EDINBURGH
Arriving outside the entrance to Rachel Green and Andrew Fletcher’s home, which is tucked up a cobbled cul-de-sac of traditional mews houses in Edinburgh’s West End, the first clue that this property might be a bit special is the black gate with its crisply detailed address plate.
Still, the ‘reveal’ as you walk through the gate is quite something. The city’s West End is filled with handsome period houses, yet once inside this walled garden you discover an elongated glazed building that forms the open plan kitchen, dining and living space of Rachel and Andrew’s home. From the cedar-clad entrance to the glazed link that connects this building to the original property – now a bedroom wing but previously a one bedroom property with a dilapidated conservatory tacked on along with a garage – everything about this contemporary space feels like a surprise. Indeed the house was shortlisted for the Edinburgh Architectural Association's 'Small Project' Award in 2013.
DESIGN FILES: SHADES OF GREY
Those of you who know me - and those who don’t but who follow my other design blog Copperline - will already be aware that I have a ‘thing’ about grey. This is a shade I never get tired of, from clothes to furnishings to paint colours. I’ve swooned over Farrow & Ball's many subtle grey tones in various properties over the years - the beautifully chalky-pale Cornforth White is a current favourite, while I’m increasingly drawn to Down Pipe, which feels like the perfect dark grey. A few weeks ago a new blog I’m following called Home Arty Home posted about Ecos Organic Paints and their new Artisan range that includes a warm mid-toned Dove Grey and a darker-toned Plumpfled (great name!).
And, I have to admit, the more I look at these dark grey hues, the more I want to ‘go to the dark side’ at home. Would dark grey simply be too gloomy in the Scottish light, particularly in our long winters?
The answer to this, I suspect, depends on the space. While I couldn’t work in a dark office, a bedroom or dining room can look fantastic in a dramatic darker tone. Ditto a bathroom or shower room - indeed, the smaller the space, the more a darker palette really comes into its own.
SLIP HOUSE, LYHAM ROAD, LONDON
Situated on a quiet, tree-lined residential street that borders Brixton and Clapham in London, Slip House is surely one of the most exciting properties to come on the market so far this year. After all, as architectural pedigrees go, this house offers some top-notch credentials. Designed by the renowned architect Carl Turner as his own home, Slip House was awarded the prestigious RIBA Manser Medal in 2013 – which is presented to the best house in the UK. The building was described by the judges as an “exemplary low-energy home… (with) refined quality of spaces”, while Grand Design’s Kevin McCloud has referred to the house as an “urban sanctuary”. Houses of this architectural calibre are rare finds on the market.
Slip House occupies one of four plots on this Brixton terrace and neighbours include another celebrated eco house (which was sold in 2012 by The Modern House, who are also marketing this property), a second house designed by Carl Turner that is currently under construction, and a further eco house that has recently been granted planning permission.
BRADBOURNE STREET, LONDON
I’ve written quite a bit here on The Property Files about my love for old-meets-new. For me, that combination of a period building with contemporary architecture or interior design creates exciting contrasts. I relish that moment of surprise where an old façade or shell of a building leads into a new interior, or reveals a crisp addition.
And there have been many properties featured here that fit the bill, from a converted church in Ross-shire designed by Dualchas Architects to - one of my favourite houses featured on The Property Files so far - this chapel conversion and extension in Wiltshire that was designed by Jonathan Tuckey.
Which brings me to this property on Bradbourne Street in Fulham in London. From the front (you’ll find more photos on this property’s listing with The Modern House) this is a traditional and handsome-looking red brick townhouse. Yes, it looks substantial, but I doubt that many first-time visitors would be expecting to discover such an extensive home that stretches over four floors - lower ground, ground, first and second - with just under 3,700 sq/ft of living space.
SNAPSHOT: THE MOUNT, HORSPATH, OXFORD
I’m sure that it isn’t hard to appreciate why this house caught my eye while scanning through Savills website. After all, it isn’t every day that you come across such a sleek and contemporary house for sale in the UK, and this one also offers a fantastic location as its situated on a hill on the edge of Shotover Country Park, offering 180 degree views towards The Chilterns and Berkshire Downs, yet it’s just 5 miles from Oxford.
The Mount has clearly been designed to make the most of this vista with extensive glazing soaking in the landscape. This really is a beautifully contemporary house - and a generous one, with two sitting rooms along with a large kitchen-dining-family room and six bedrooms. There’s a nice indoor-outdoor flow too as full-height doors slide back to open up the dining-family space, one of the sitting rooms, and the main bedroom onto the garden.
INTERNATIONAL FRIDAYS: SALTSJOBADEN, SWEDEN
My love for (okay, addiction to) Scandinavian design probably needs no explanation here - last week’s post aside, International Fridays does seem to have evolved into Scandinavian Fridays of late. Maybe it’s my current love affair with Nordic Noir drama - I can’t get enough of The Bridge or Borgen or The Killing. I’ve soaked up every episode of every series and want more. From the interiors in Borgen (Birgitte’s penthouse in series 3 was impressive, but I preferred the more eclectic mix of the flat she relocated to, and would have happily swapped digs for Katrine’s messily cool loft apartment) to the olive green vintage Porsche driven by Saga Norén in The Bridge (oh how beautiful is that car…), there’s just something about Scandinavian drama that does ‘style’ so very well.
I digress, clearly, but the point is, there are good reasons why I keep returning to Scandinavian shores when considering international properties. Not only do many of the properties look great in terms of their interior design, but they’re also beautifully photographed and styled. The lighting is perfect and the styling is relaxed; it really does feel as if you’re peeking into someone’s home when its looking its absolute best.
11 TEMPLE MAINS STEADING, INNERWICK, EAST LOTHIAN
Every so often I come across a property that I can really imagine living in. This is something of an occupational hazard, clearly, but it’s one thing seeing a great looking house that you can appreciate for its style and character, but another seeing a place that you can easily imagine transporting yourself and your belongings into. It’s how I felt when I visited this flat in Edinburgh’s Trinity area last year on a beautiful summer’s day, with the doors open into the garden.
Likewise with this beautiful Georgian townhouse, again in Edinburgh, which I’ve admired since I first visited to write a feature for an interiors magazine back in 2002. And there’s this Victorian townhouse in the city’s West End, which I was sold on as soon as I walked into the kitchen-dining-family space on the garden level. There are lots of great properties around, but some just ‘connect’.
Which brings me to this four bedroom steading conversion at 11 Temple Mains Steading in the East Lothian conservation village of Innerwick. This is one of those ‘you had me at hello’ houses, from the pinkish tones of the stonework - a characteristic feature of properties in this area - to the brick chimney stack that reflects this 19th century building’s history as a former threshing mill and engine house.
DESIGN FILES: AN APARTMENT IN BROOKLYN
In my previous post I mused briefly on the meaning of luxury, and how the term can mean different things to different people. While this apartment in Brooklyn isn’t for sale or available to let, for me this space is a fitting partner to my last post as it showcases features that I’d consider ‘luxurious’: beautiful materials, and equally beautiful handcrafted detailing to create a home that feels ‘crafted’ while retaining a sense of simplicity.
I’ll be honest, I was smitten by this kitchen the first time I saw the top photo posted on the brilliant Unhappy Hipsters Tumblr, so was delighted to discover the whole shoot featured on Dwell. This compact four bedroom duplex apartment sits on the top floor of a brick building in Brooklyn, and the interior was designed by Workstead.