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



urning two individual qualities back again into one particular home, accommodating a couple’s wildly different decor preferences and correctly blending a new extension into a period building was definitely a problem in this mammoth Dalston townhouse conversion.

But, as with romantic relationship counselling and ménage à trois, introducing a 3rd bash to the blend — in this scenario an architect good friend — was the magic component that aided transform two fatigued flats into a daring, classy, thoughtful interval residence for this creative pair.

How to spot a home with likely

Television actor Zoe Boyle, 37, and her cinematographer husband, Benedict Spence, 40, ended up residing in a rented warehouse conversion in Shoreditch, east London, when they began hunting for a more permanent property to invest in together.

Juliet Murphy

They arrived across a Victorian townhouse in Dalston that experienced been unofficially split into two dwellings — a dim and decrepit 1-bed room basement flat and a weary but characterful 4-bedroom maisonette break up about three flooring above.

With the home being split in two and with a good deal of setting up do the job necessary, the pair felt an skilled belief was required to make sure they were being generating the proper conclusion in purchasing the dwelling. In stepped Boyle’s good friend, architect George Bradley of Bradley Van Der Straeten (

“What struck me about the assets when we 1st considered it was its stunning bay windows and generous proportions in the living spaces. There was a genuine chance to make the developing in good shape for contemporary-day applications, even though at the same time respect and retain significantly of the beautiful unique Victorian architecture and character,” states Bradley.

Boyle agrees: “The property had plenty of natural light-weight jogging by way of it and you could see that the bones of the constructing were nevertheless intact, with loads of gorgeous original Victorian features,” between them tall ceilings, cornicing and ceiling roses.

Juliet Murphy

Two turn out to be one particular

Boyle and Spence took the plunge and bought the assets for £1.45 million in January 2020. They then had to blend two individual residences that experienced been addressed incredibly otherwise. They also experienced to obtain a way of melding their distinct style and design suggestions into a harmonious eyesight.

“There was a authentic thrust and pull among Ben and I,” claims Boyle, who performed Lavinia Swire in Downton Abbey. “Ben likes modern-day structure and required to rip out all the partitions and generate a person big open up-approach place, whereas I was clinging to the strategy of generating one thing more basic and traditional, albeit with a modern consider.”

A testament to Bradley’s ability, the completed dwelling is a fantastic combination of the two.

Juliet Murphy

There is a contemporary, open-prepare kitchen, eating and living space on the basement level, which has been prolonged and pretty radically reconfigured.

A flavour of an previous London home can be identified on the upper flooring, with their first flooring, doors and architraves. “We resisted the temptation to make it best,” suggests Bradley. “There are sloping ceilings and flooring, but that is what adds to the character of the building.”

Enable the light in

A single of the major layout worries of basement extensions is making a brilliant and airy area. Oversized, glazed sliding doors top out into the back garden help fill the once gloomy flooring with pure light-weight.

Juliet Murphy

Bradley also arrived up with a principle to position a massive glass rooflight about the living location. But in its place of a normal installation, it has been made with superior sides internally and the extension’s roof is supported by slender timber joists that have been still left uncovered less than the roof window. The joists include texture in the place, as properly as build a dappling light effect in the reduce floor floor space.

Significantly discussion was experienced with Spence — whose expert experience functioning with mild came into engage in — on the orientation of the joists to permit for the fantastic amount of money of all-natural light to flood the interior while at the similar time limiting the amount of gentle coming into the place to steer clear of overheating.

Rainbow rooms

One of the most evident changes to the household is the use of colour. “It’s thanks to Zoe that we have a beautiful, colourful property,” states Spence, whose the latest function features This is Likely to Damage.

Juliet Murphy

“Because of my position, I’m very conscious of mild and how diverse colors interact with light-weight. It was about discovering colors that wouldn’t soak up all the purely natural light, but however saved the home colourful and exciting,” he says.

Bradley’s colleague Jessica Williamson worked with Boyle to arrive up with a color plan — devising an immersive palette, with every single area a unique, but complementing assortment of hues, employed towards a white backdrop.

“A good deal of the colour conclusions manufactured had been governed by the place the sunlight is at diverse occasions of the working day,” says Williamson. “It was incredibly substantially about creating the vibrant rooms brighter and the dim rooms darker.”

To stop the basement turning out to be gloomy, all the partitions ended up painted white. Color was extra in the kitchen area cabinetry — painted in Farrow & Ball Preference Pink, a deep burgundy — and the interiors of the enclosed staircase linking the basement to the higher property, which was painted Farrow & Ball Stone Blue.

Juliet Murphy

Working with heritage colors based mostly in nature prevented the house feeling way too “carnivally”.

Upstairs, the daring use of color has continued. The sunshine yellow Chinese Emperor from Paint and Paper Library was applied in the rear reception area and loos on the south side of the property to make the most of the normal daylight.

The grasp bedroom on the 1st floor, located at the darker entrance, north-struggling with aspect of the residence, has been painted in Farrow & Ball’s Downpipe Grey, complemented with a sumptuous comfortable rusty orange carpet.

“We required to lean into a darkish cocooning room for the bedroom. It is a charming area to slumber in mainly because the area is so darkish and comforting,” suggests Zoe.

Juliet Murphy

The south-struggling with next floor workplace is painted in Rufus, a warm, ochre shade, when the principal rest room zings in zesty Euphorbia, both equally by Paint and Paper Library.

The final result

Despite delays owing to the pandemic and materials not arriving on time, as nicely as a couple price established-backs with the basement’s Ash parquet flooring warping in areas, black mould showing up in the attic and an unexpected cost to take out a single of the fuel meters in the residence, the task completed in March 2021, with the ultimate bill coming in at £393,000, all-around £20,000 a lot more than they had budgeted for.

Boyle and Spence could not be a lot more pleased with how the undertaking has turned out, created with a 1st-floor learn suite, upstairs visitor bed room, an business and a Peloton home.

The overall household is crammed with mild and colour and brings together the present day, open-program basement with the common Victorian proportions and room layouts on the flooring over. “Both sections do the job and stream into just about every other seamlessly. It is our aspiration home,” states Spence.

How to slice renovation costs

  • The pair ordered their cabinetry and door fronts by way of spending budget on-line retailer “The firm is capable to color match the cabinetry with Farrow & Ball shades, which will make it seem extra high-priced than it truly is,” claims Boyle.
  • Alternatively of shopping for new, take into account reupholstering present home furniture to match the colours and appear of your new abode.
  • Really do not incorporate far more place unless you truly need to have to. Boyle and Spence thought of including a loft conversion but before long realised, in particular with the economic uncertainty of Covid-19, that they could save a vast amount of funds if they dropped the plans.
  • If you operate out of dollars for landscaping, maintain it simple with grass, and cover unruly parts with panelled fencing. You can reassess the exterior look at a later date when cash make it possible for.
  • Help you save income by acquiring 2nd-hand pieces — Zoe bought the dining table and chairs from a film established she was functioning on for only £150.


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Angela M. Arriola

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