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Two Become One: A Colorful Townhouse for an Actor and a Cinematographer

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Two Become One: A Colorful Townhouse for an Actor and a Cinematographer

December 9, 2022

Scrolling through Instagram during a chilly evening at home, I stopped on an image of a living room in unexpected hues, like something right out of Bemelman’s Bar. I’d later learn that the homeowner, Zoe, in describing her vision for the space, summed up our own yearnings of late: “Having lived in predominantly white spaces for the past few years, I found myself thirsty for color,” she said. “I wanted a space that was vibrant and uplifting.”

The four-story townhouse in Dalston, UK, belongs to Zoe, an actor, and Benedict, a cinematographer, who brought in London-based firm Bradley Van Der Straeten, and principally architect Jessica Williamson, to transform their newly purchased space. “Already knowing the clients well, we had the opportunity to view the house before they placed an offer,” the architects say. (They’d previously worked with Zoe on a renovation of her Hampstead apartment.) “This enabled us to provide some initial advice and ideas. We also knew that whatever we were going to embark on together was going to be fun.”

Major changes came in the form of structure. The townhouse was divided into two separate dwellings: a flat on the first floor and a “family maisonette,” as the architects call it, occupying the top three floors, accessed only via a flight of external stairs. “What struck us about the building was its grand urban Brooklyn townhouse feel and the generous proportions of the main living areas and beautiful bay windows,” the architects say.

The brief from this creative pair was three-fold: join two homes into one, restore the stately bones of the top three floors, and inject lots—and lots—of color. “With Benedict being a cinematographer, his technical interest and knowledge meant we had to be on our A-game when it came to lighting and designing for natural daylight,” the team adds.

Let’s see how it turned out.

Photography by French and Tye, courtesy of Bradley Van Der Straeten.

the townhome, now merged into one dwelling, is traditional on the outside; insi 9
Above: The townhome, now merged into one dwelling, is traditional on the outside; inside, though, it is what the architects call “a bold and colorful bohemian party house.”
&#8\2\20;the design solution was simple,&#8\2\2\1; the architects repor 10
Above: “The design solution was simple,” the architects report. “The basement level was cramped, damp, and in need of total transformation, but the upper three floors had beautiful proportions, and we could save on structural and rebuilding works by focusing on celebrating the existing rooms—without the need for major structural change.” On the ground floor, the snug (or “rear reception”) is sunny and bright thanks to a coat of India Yellow by Farrow & Ball.
the snug gives way to the front living room in greenish french grey by farrow & 11
Above: The snug gives way to the front living room in greenish French Grey by Farrow & Ball. “Developing the designs was exciting, as we had so much to work with,” the architects say. “The couple’s collection of artwork and furniture was already a great starting point for the home, and we knew from early discussions that color was going to be key,” thanks to Zoe’s eye for unexpected palettes.
the wood floors are painted in invisible green by little greene. 12
Above: The wood floors are painted in Invisible Green by Little Greene.
an unexpected jolt of color: the scp teti wall/ceiling lamp in orange installed 13
Above: An unexpected jolt of color: the SCP Teti Wall/Ceiling Lamp in Orange installed in an original ceiling medallion.
the   that originally caught our attention, complete with bar cart. 14
Above: The image that originally caught our attention, complete with bar cart.
in the entry hallway, the architects opted for a clever painted on runner that  15
Above: In the entry hallway, the architects opted for a clever painted-on runner that “spirals up all the way to the top floor” (the color is Citrine by Little Greene). And even the smallest of details got their due: The door handles throughout the house are Old English Reeded Solid Brass Door Knobs in Matte Black; the sockets and switches are Schneider Screwless Metal Range in Nickel/Matte White.
each bath has its own tip to toe color palette. this one is done in domus color 16
Above: Each bath has its own tip-to-toe color palette. This one is done in Domus Colori Lucido in Ocra DMSL 17 Gloss 300 x 100 Tiles and paint to match. The floor is no-fuss vinyl, sourced from The Colour Flooring Company (color: Slate Grey).

“The yellows of the bathroom and rear reception are positioned on the south side of the house to make the most of the daylight and brightness,” the architects add. “You are always looking at the back of the house via a sunny frame.”

downstairs on the garden level, the team transformed the standalone flat. & 17
Above: Downstairs on the garden level, the team transformed the standalone flat. “Zoe and Benedict wanted to change the basement flat into the main kitchen and living space so that it could open onto the generous garden,” the architects say. The kitchen itself is a budget option from DIY Kitchens in the UK, with their Carrera doors painted to match Farrow & Ball’s Preference Red and Little Greene’s Flint, the color of the walls and ceilings on this level.
zoe in the kitchen. the island worktop is a carbon neutral dekton compressed sl 18
Above: Zoe in the kitchen. The island worktop is a carbon-neutral Dekton compressed slab; the rest of the countertops are the Fenix NTM Collection in the Rosso Jaipur colorway. The tap—a Tap Warehouse Just Taps VOS Pull-Out Single Lever Mono Kitchen Mixer in Matte White—pairs well with the Franke Antea AZG 621-116 Sink in Fraganite Polar White.
a whimsical touch: half moon cabinet pulls. they&#8\2\17;re the mezzaluna c 19
Above: A whimsical touch: half-moon cabinet pulls. They’re the Mezzaluna Colour Pop Metal Pull Handles from Dowsing & Reynolds.
the kitchen cabinets transform into built in storage cupboards that span the di 20
Above: The kitchen cabinets transform into built-in storage cupboards that span the dining area—complete with the same Mezzaluna pulls.
&#8\2\20;we fully opened up the basement level by removing all the internal 21
Above: “We fully opened up the basement level by removing all the internal walls, and we extended out into the garden with a simple and small infill single-story extension,” the architects say. “This created a fully open-plan, long, linear space, benefitting from natural light from above and fully glazed onto the garden.” The parquet floors are Hørning Floors‘ Cube Pattern in Untreated Ash.

Note also the lightwell in the ceiling, created thanks to the small bump-out. “Influenced by one well-known mid-century Californian property, we liked the idea of rotating the direction of exposed structural timbers in the ceiling to create variation and rhythm in the ceiling,” the architects say.

the &#8\2\20;wormhole&#8\2\2\1; stair, as the architects affectionally  22
Above: The “wormhole” stair, as the architects affectionally call it, is done in Stone Blue by Farrow & Ball. The white paneling beneath it conceals extra storage.
&#8\2\20;on the upper two floors, bar undoing a few unoriginal changes that 23
Above: “On the upper two floors, bar undoing a few unoriginal changes that had occurred over the years, most walls and doors remained,” the architects recall. On this level, “we created a main bedroom with a walk-through wardrobe and family bathroom adjacent.” The main bedroom (in Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe) makes a case for the return of carpet: It’s the Solar Carpet in Tangerine from Brockway in the UK.
the adjacent bath is a study in citrine. like the bath one floor below, it& 24
Above: The adjacent bath is a study in citrine. Like the bath one floor below, it’s done in Domus Colori Matte tiles, this time in Pistachio DMSC 22 300 x 100, and vinyl flooring from The Colour Flooring Company, this time in Monckton. The walls are done in Euphorbia by Paint & Paper Library.
in keeping with the matte white fixture theme, the tap is the crosswater mpro b 25
Above: In keeping with the matte white fixture theme, the tap is the Crosswater MPRO Basin Monobloc in Matte White. The fluted glass showed screen was made by the project contractor, Optimal.

the painted runner continues to the top floor. 26
Above: The painted runner continues to the top floor.
on the tippy top floor, the architects designed &#8\2\20;three smaller room 27
Above: On the tippy top floor, the architects designed “three smaller rooms used as a guest bedroom, study, and a Peloton room, but able to adapt over time.” The front guest bedroom is painted in Chinese Blue from Farrow & Ball’s archive collection. The pleated lampshade was a budget find from H&M Home.
&#8\2\20;for the upper floors there were definite nods towards mid century  28
Above: “For the upper floors there were definite nods towards mid-century Italian colors and fittings, a particular favorite style of Zoe’s,” the architects say. Here, a wall of storage echoes the kitchen three floors below, with Carrera doors from DIY Kitchens painted in a color-match of Stone Mid Cool by Little Greene.
the back room, painted in warm, tonal rufus from paint & paper library, cur 29
Above: The back room, painted in warm, tonal Rufus from Paint & Paper Library, currently doubles as a spare bedroom and study. (Note how the desk also serves as a headboard.)
&#8\2\20;it’s a big house for two people,&#8\2\2\1; zoe reports, 30
Above: “It’s a big house for two people,” Zoe reports, “but we find we use every inch of it already. Each room has a different function, but also a different atmosphere, so I find myself settling in different corners of the house depending on my mood.”

N.B.: For more by Bradley Van Der Straeten, see our recent post: A Graphic Designer’s Redone Victorian, Where the Pantry Takes Center Stage.

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