Asked by a couple with a baby and a toddler to renovate their two-floor “maisonette” in a London Victorian, architect Larissa Johnston responded by turning the place upside down: The bedrooms, formerly sequestered on the ground floor, were moved up a flight. Meanwhile, the kitchen and living room got transplanted on the garden level, where they could be linked to the previously hard-to-access courtyard. The aim, she says, was to “create a spacious, light, and modern family home.” And that required Johnston to not only shift the floor plan but also to rethink just about every existing detail. Come see her light and airy results.
Rory Gardiner, styling by Emma Lynne Archer, courtesy of Larissa Johnston Architects. Above: The family occupies the first two floors of a terrace house in Islington that had over the years lost most of its period detailing, but “felt dark and enclosed” (scroll down for Before shots). Their main entrance, now on the garden level, opens to a bright living room furnished with vintage pieces. The new floor is polished concrete. Above: Johnston’s big move was to take out all of the existing internal walls and create an open-plan living floor with an extension at the far end that connects the room to the garden. A new supporting steel structure is concealed within the walls and floor to create a simple, uninterrupted space, she explains.
Within the open space, Johnston introduced a “carefully crafted linear plywood box,” ingeniously fitted to contain the kitchen and the stairs, as well as a series of shelves and storage units.
Above: The clean-lined kitchen is birch plywood finished with a water-based acrylic varnish. The stove is a Smeg and a full-size fridge is located to the right of it. Above: A Caple Cubit 100 stainless steel sink with drainer is set within the slim stainless steel counter. The faucet is Franke’s Irena 3-in-1 Tap Minerva, which provides hot, cold, and boiling water. Above: A large skylight floods the main room with natural light. Hans Wegner Wishbone Chairs surround an Ikea dining table. (For something similar, consider painting Ikea’s birch Norden table.) The hanging light is Heal’s Bristol Pendant Light in a walnut finish. The sliding glass window wall is the full height and width of the of the kitchen. The birch ply door in the back of the room leads to a utility area and powder room tucked under the stairs. Above: Johnston deftly introduced a second box of sorts, an addition at the back of the room: “The rear external wall at the lower level was completely removed, allowing the extension—which added 13 square meters [approximately 14o square feet]—to be seamlessly integrated into the main space,” she says. The house is now a total of 101 square meters (1,087 square feet).