ISSUE 1  |  New Beginnings

Inner Sanctum: Maximum Calm in a London Townhouse

January 06, 2014 10:00 AM

BY Christine Chang Hanway

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Hurrah–having just delivered the last box of books and clothes to Goodwill, my annual New Year de-clutter is complete. No one said living small and spare was easy, but once a year I do my best to fulfill my fantasy of leading a highly edited life with minimal clutter and maximum calm. Our oldest son leaves on his gap-year travels this month followed by college in the fall and our second son is only two years behind him, so I can hide my failings in their teen mess for a few more years. And I can seek respite and inspiration in projects like this Victorian house in Stoke Newington, London, where the predominant use of the white, while far from minimal, emphasizes a clean slate. Mixing in the patinas and textures of worn and well-loved pieces, this home has withstood the test of time and will carry on doing so long past 2014.

Photography via JJ Locations.

Above: Simple roll-down blinds bring evenly diffused natural light into the kitchen. Cabinets with reveal handles (rather than hardware) and a white Corian countertop with integrated sinks keep fussy details to a minimum in this small space.

Above: A new stainless steel range is integrated into an existing arched opening in the historic house.

Above: In the white-and-black-accented dining room, a wood table and corner reading chair add a natural warmth

Above L: Pale gray walls highlight the architectural details of the ceilings, which have been painted white. The warmth of a midcentury Ercol chair contrasts with the cool gray of the painted cabinet. Above R: Carefully chosen objects create a vignette that is on the right side of clutter.

Above: A driftwood sculpture hung over a wood side table continues the natural wood theme observed in the dining room.

Above: In a sea of neutral furnishings, the foliage in the painting above the sofa pulls the greenery in from outside.

Above: A vintage clock, camera, and well-worn leather chair add a layer of time.

Above: The smooth, sculptural shape of the tall gray vase contrasts with the texture of the accordion paper pendant shade.

Above: In the stairwell, the wood bannister continues the theme of natural warmth while a sculptural white pendant shade adds visual interest.

Above: Floor-to-ceiling cupboards, painted white to match the walls, keep the bedroom clutter free, while a convex mirror gives the space the illusion of added depth.

Above: A slipper chair covered in white and a white pendant shade quiety anchor a corner of the bedroom.

Above: An accordion pendant shade and Danish Teak Slatted Chair bring the midcentury to an upstairs sitting room, where a white-framed mirror reflects light.

Above: A simple picture rail provides display space for artwork and objects. 

Above: Pale pink curtains and pale gray walls make for a sophisticated color scheme in a child’s room. 

The inspiration for my annual de-clutter last year was much more severe: see Clean Slate Living with Johannes Norlander. Which approach you prefer? Let us know in the comments section below.