At a time when the lived-in look has entered and taken over in all of our homes, here’s an inspiring, rarefied version on the theme. London architecture firm Jonathan Tuckey Design—a member of the Remodelista Architect and Designer Directory—was presented with a four-story Regency townhouse, the longstanding home of a family involved in the art world. The place was well lived in, according to project architect James Moore, and the requested top-to-bottom refresh set out to embrace rather than erase all the visible everyday things.
“The scheme is really about creating a backdrop to their busy lives, introducing functional storage for their many objects—a curated order—while also developing themes as one moves through the house,” Moore explains. Of course, it helped that the family’s belongings include modernist prints and antique Venetian mirrors. As art collectors, the owners were particularly attuned to establishing a mood-setting palette, and wanted, says Moore, “for their art to speak—and for the architecture to have a dialogue alongside it.”
Working with approximately 300 square feet on each floor, the architects set out to make each space more flexible—”to liberate the walls and floors”—and also to create a sense of being on a journey. Finishes and colors were inspired by the early 20th-century abstract art movement known as Purism: “the intention was to introduce varieties of spaces—dark, light, introspective, and distorted using color and the abstracted forms of Purist artworks as a device.” Curiouser and curiouser? The results, particularly as captured in these photographs, have an intriguing down-the-rabbit-hole quality. Join us for a look around.
Photography by Dirk Lindner, courtesy of Jonathan Tuckey Design.
Above: The main gathering space is a combination living/dining room that opens to a glassed-off kitchen. This is on the parlor floor—scroll to the end to see a sectional plan of the structure, which has a narrow entry floor below.
Above: The steel-framed wall was modeled after 19th-century greenhouses. Note its textured glass: “crucially, this screen allows the kitchen to be either part of the living space or closed off,” says Moore. A high ledge provides a place for the family’s houseplants, and further drives home the greenhouse theme. Materials throughout are all hardwearing and selected because they age well: the owners, says Moore, wanted to treat their home as “something to live in and wear in.”
Above: The compact cooking niche has a concrete surround made by Kast. The custom cabinets are blue-stained spruce: “the stain allows the grain of the wood to come through and feels more lightweight than paint,” says Moore. To tie together the steel elements, the metal pot rack is painted to match the screen.
Above: The architects chose industrial stippled glass to “distort” the light between the spaces. They write: “A leanness and economy of construction was used for the steel screen structure. This was an important tectonic counterpoint to the substantial mass of the concrete kitchen sink, splash back, and work surface.”
Above: The kitchen sink and surrounding niche are all a single piece of Kast cast concrete with an overhead drying shelf. “The kitchen is tiny and was designed to use every available space as efficiently as possible,” says Moore. “Inspiration was taken from Parisian apartment kitchens with small ladders to access high-level storage, hanging racks, draining boards, and display shelving.”
Inspiration from Purist canvases is evident here in the intersecting geometric shapes and planes of strong color.
Above: The staircase was artfully preserved—with its old runner removed and the remaining footprint left as is, but the sides of the steps were carefully repainted. What the architects describe as “the serpentine streak of dark green paint that chases the stairway through the property” references Georgian paneling and also serves to protect the walls from fingerprints. It’s MDF finished with Annie Sloan chalk paint in Amsterdam Green.
Above: The second story is the kids’ floor, divided into two connected bedrooms—one “fluid space” separated by doors and with a shared bathroom in the middle. The bathroom’s steel-framed windows, shown here, repeat the kitchen’s glazing design down to the warm red.
Above: The walls are clad in a three-layered solid spruce multiply from Tintab. The owners explored painting the wood but removed the layers, “leaving beautiful washed marks of residual paint,” says Moore.
Above: The same plywood was used to create a modernist mantel for an opened up (but not functioning) old fireplace. It’s topped with the aforementioned Venetian mirror. The floors are original and edged with painted gray borders that carry on the worn/finished look of the stair: “This line continues up the stairs and around the rooms, spilling from the floors up to the skirting and around the architraves,” says Moore.
Above: The “crepuscular green” walls of the children’s bath are the waterproof Moroccan plaster tadelakt. Ambient light comes in through the dappled glass by day; at night, sink, shower, and toilet are illuminated by three spotlights with narrow beams that don’t disturb the bedrooms.
Above: The gray line continues on the doors. Storage is elegantly inserted under the stairs.
Above: On the top floor, the parents’ aerie is paneled in a glossy dark blue that extends to the window frames and interior shutters. The bed is on a raised plinth carpeted in jute.
Above: The en suite wash area has blue tadelakt walls and a pink concrete basin, the Kern by Kast.
Above: Designed to feel like a retreat, the combination study and guest room has a built-in daybed, desk, and shelving of larch. The old floorboards are painted a glossy deep green.
Above: The entrance hall on the ground floor has its own two-toned stair in the same dark green (that’s the study on the landing at the top of the stair). The built-in “display case” storage allows coats and shoes to be tossed, and “still look as if they were presented.” The tile carpet was inspired by Carlo Scarpa’s Olivetti shop in Venice; it’s set with handmade tiles by British ceramic artist Stella Stewart in a wide textured grout.
Above: A sectional plan illuminates the flow of spaces and the repeating color choices.
We’ve been avidly following Jonathan Tuckey Design for years. Here are three more of their projects:
Swish Chalet: An Alpine Remodel in a Swiss Mountain Village
An Urban Hut for an Under-the-Radar Design Doyenne
The Life Aquatic: A London Mews House or a Submariner
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