Historic home transformation with eclectic interior in London

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This traditional historic home with an eclectic interior was substantially repaired in 2011 by architect and owner Chris Dyson Architects, located in the heart of London, England. The house was bought from a leather coat manufacturer in 1997. The aim at the outset was to concentrate on the building’s history and place in Spitalfields a unique quarter of Georgian London, with respect for the immediate context. A number of found and reclaimed items have been incorporated into the interior and exterior to provide the authentic detailing of the period.

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From the architect: The roof of the house was in serious need of repair and was replaced with a new mansard roof construction; this room forms the master bedroom suite. The façade of the house has been returned to a design of 1725 with timber sashes windows and decorative brickwork to reveals. The interior of the house had lost its’ original features in the 1930’s when the house had been extensively remodeled to create workshops. Substantial changes were carried out to make this into a family home in keeping with the domestic character of Princelet Street.

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Panelled rooms have been restored to the ground and first floor reception rooms returning character, scale and proportion to this family home. A fern garden at the rear provides a pleasant filigree pattern of light and shade and privacy from the surrounding properties.

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The primary aim has been to flood the lower rooms of the house with daylight, particularly at the rear of the property, creating a connection with the outside garden and the reception rooms within. A deep sense of calm and stillness pervades this house; an oasis in such close proximity to the financial heart of the city of London.

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The rear section of the ground-floor reception room functions as a more formal dining area. The table is a gate-legged design from Dyson’s father-in-law; it can be folded to make a multifunctional space. Dyson occasionally hosts art shows in the house, inviting artists to display their work.

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The corridor outside the reception room leads to a staircase down to the kitchen area.

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The holes in the staircase are vents for the storage below and are interesting visual details that draw the eye upward.

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The basement, formerly a storage area and boiler room, was converted into a kitchen over about four months. Dyson designed it with the aim of creating a space that felt welcoming and warm. To keep the room as light as possible, given it’s on the basement level, Dyson used gloss paint to enhance the light and bounce it around the room. The flooring is hard-wearing rubber.

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For the dining area next to the kitchen, Dyson designed custom shelving to house the family’s collection of plates from Holland and China. Its function and aesthetic are similar to those of a Welsh dresser, but it has a less fussy feel. Dyson also designed the American black walnut table. It was made by Matthew Hilton, who designed the dining chairs.

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The living room on this floor is more spacious than the reception room on the ground floor. Dyson found the two columns on either side of the fireplace at an architectural antiques and salvage store in Oxfordshire. The fireplace is made of wood painted to have a marble effect. Paneling, wooden shutters and cast iron heritage radiators complete the historic feel of the room. The space above the fireplace holds a secret bookcase.

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The rear half of the room is a quiet nook that can be used for studying or relaxing. It leads out to a balcony, which allows light to flood the space. The Crittall door provides an interesting industrial twist on the classical feel of the rest of the room.

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The home has access to outdoor space on three levels; a fern garden occupies two levels, and the first floor has a balcony.

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On the second floor are two bedrooms and a family bathroom, and a staircase leads to the master suite on the third floor. Dyson replaced all of the banisters in the house; the new ones are softwood with a mahogany finish. The clock is a 17th-century French piece with a hand-painted wood effect.

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Photos: Alex James

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