London home renovation: we turned two tired Dalston flats into a Technicolor dream home


urning two separate properties back again into 1 house, accommodating a couple’s wildly distinct decor choices and correctly mixing a new extension into a time period constructing was definitely a problem in this mammoth Dalston townhouse conversion.

But, as with romance counselling and ménage à trois, introducing a 3rd celebration to the combine — in this scenario an architect pal — was the magic element that served renovate two drained flats into a daring, classy, considerate interval house for this innovative few.

How to place a property with potential

Tv actor Zoe Boyle, 37, and her cinematographer partner, Benedict Spence, 40, have been living in a rented warehouse conversion in Shoreditch, east London, when they began hunting for a far more long term property to purchase with each other.

Juliet Murphy

They arrived throughout a Victorian townhouse in Dalston that had been unofficially split into two dwellings — a dark and decrepit one particular-bedroom basement flat and a weary but characterful 4-bed room maisonette split in excess of a few flooring over.

With the property getting split in two and with a great deal of creating get the job done needed, the few felt an specialist impression was desired to assure they ended up building the correct determination in shopping for the home. In stepped Boyle’s close friend, architect George Bradley of Bradley Van Der Straeten (

“What struck me about the residence when we initial seen it was its gorgeous bay windows and generous proportions in the living spaces. There was a actual chance to make the developing match for modern-working day needs, though at the exact same time respect and manage significantly of the beautiful initial Victorian architecture and character,” says Bradley.

Boyle agrees: “The property experienced loads of pure light-weight managing by it and you could see that the bones of the creating ended up nevertheless intact, with lots of beautiful primary Victorian attributes,” among them tall ceilings, cornicing and ceiling roses.

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Two grow to be a person

Boyle and Spence took the plunge and purchased the residence for £1.45 million in January 2020. They then had to incorporate two individual homes that experienced been treated extremely in another way. They also had to find a way of melding their distinctive design and style strategies into a harmonious eyesight.

“There was a true drive and pull between Ben and I,” states Boyle, who played Lavinia Swire in Downton Abbey. “Ben likes modern day style and design and required to rip out all the walls and develop one big open up-plan place, whereas I was clinging to the thought of developing anything more common and classic, albeit with a contemporary take.”

A testament to Bradley’s skill, the concluded residence is a fantastic mix of the two.

Juliet Murphy

There is a present day, open up-prepare kitchen, dining and living place on the basement amount, which has been prolonged and rather radically reconfigured.

A flavour of an outdated London residence can be located on the higher flooring, with their authentic flooring, doors and architraves. “We resisted the temptation to make it excellent,” claims Bradley. “There are sloping ceilings and flooring, but that is what adds to the character of the building.”

Let the light-weight in

1 of the main layout worries of basement extensions is making a brilliant and airy space. Outsized, glazed sliding doors main out into the backyard assistance fill the after gloomy floor with organic mild.

Juliet Murphy

Bradley also arrived up with a idea to spot a significant glass rooflight in excess of the dwelling place. But instead of a common set up, it has been created with substantial sides internally and the extension’s roof is supported by slender timber joists that have been still left exposed less than the roof window. The joists include texture in the place, as properly as create a dappling gentle result in the decreased floor flooring place.

A lot dialogue was experienced with Spence — whose experienced working experience working with gentle came into participate in — on the orientation of the joists to let for the fantastic amount of money of purely natural light to flood the inside while at the identical time proscribing the volume of light-weight coming into the house to keep away from overheating.

Rainbow rooms

A single of the most clear adjustments to the dwelling is the use of colour. “It’s thanks to Zoe that we have a gorgeous, colourful dwelling,” says Spence, whose modern do the job features This is Going to Damage.

Juliet Murphy

“Because of my work, I’m extremely conscious of light and how different colours interact with light. It was about getting colors that would not soak up all the pure light, but continue to saved the property colourful and attention-grabbing,” he says.

Bradley’s colleague Jessica Williamson worked with Boyle to come up with a color approach — devising an immersive palette, with each and every space a various, but complementing selection of hues, utilized from a white backdrop.

“A whole lot of the colour conclusions made were ruled by in which the sunshine is at distinctive times of the day,” claims Williamson. “It was pretty much about earning the shiny rooms brighter and the dark rooms darker.”

To prevent the basement becoming gloomy, all the partitions ended up painted white. Colour was included in the kitchen area cabinetry — painted in Farrow & Ball Preference Crimson, a deep burgundy — and the interiors of the enclosed staircase linking the basement to the higher dwelling, which was painted Farrow & Ball Stone Blue.

Juliet Murphy

Utilizing heritage colors primarily based in mother nature prevented the space experience much too “carnivally”.

Upstairs, the daring use of color has ongoing. The sunshine yellow Chinese Emperor from Paint and Paper Library was applied in the rear reception home and bogs on the south aspect of the home to make the most of the organic daylight.

The grasp bedroom on the initially ground, positioned at the darker front, north-struggling with facet of the property, has been painted in Farrow & Ball’s Downpipe Grey, complemented with a sumptuous delicate rusty orange carpet.

“We needed to lean into a dark cocooning space for the bedroom. It is a beautiful spot to snooze in simply because the home is so dark and calming,” says Zoe.

Juliet Murphy

The south-going through 2nd flooring office environment is painted in Rufus, a warm, ochre shade, even though the major rest room zings in zesty Euphorbia, equally by Paint and Paper Library.

The final result

Inspite of delays owing to the pandemic and resources not arriving on time, as very well as a number of cost established-backs with the basement’s Ash parquet flooring warping in destinations, black mould showing in the attic and an unforeseen price to clear away 1 of the gasoline meters in the residence, the task finished in March 2021, with the final monthly bill coming in at £393,000, all around £20,000 far more than they had budgeted for.

Boyle and Spence could not be far more happy with how the project has turned out, built with a very first-flooring learn suite, upstairs visitor bedroom, an office and a Peloton place.

The complete household is stuffed with gentle and colour and combines the contemporary, open-program basement with the typical Victorian proportions and home layouts on the flooring earlier mentioned. “Both sections function and move into each and every other seamlessly. It’s our aspiration home,” suggests Spence.

How to slice renovation expenditures

  • The couple purchased their cabinetry and doorway fronts through price range on the net retailer “The firm is in a position to colour match the cabinetry with Farrow & Ball shades, which would make it look far more high priced than it truly is,” claims Boyle.
  • Instead of shopping for new, contemplate reupholstering existing home furnishings to match the colours and look of your new abode.
  • Don’t add extra room unless of course you definitely need to. Boyle and Spence regarded incorporating a loft conversion but shortly realised, specially with the economic uncertainty of Covid-19, that they could save a large amount of revenue if they dropped the options.
  • If you operate out of money for landscaping, preserve it simple with grass, and hide unruly locations with panelled fencing. You can reassess the exterior glimpse at a later day when money permit.
  • Preserve revenue by shopping for second-hand parts — Zoe purchased the dining table and chairs from a movie established she was working on for only £150.