Most people wouldn’t call a centuries-old home that had been abandoned for 30 years and had no roof, no working electricity, and no reliable plumbing a “dream house.” But Pedro da Costa Felgueiras is not like most people. The Portuguese-born Londoner is a hot-shot expert on historical paints and pigments (see T Magazine‘s profile of him here), and where most of us would have seen a tear-down, he saw his next project, one that would unite his professional life with his personal.
“When I first started restoring it I was like a kid in a sweet shop—it was so exciting,” he told the Modern House. “I loved the process of doing it and put a lot of love and time into it. I would work on the house from 8 am until 4 pm and then go to my studio from 4 pm until midnight.”
The project took years to complete; Felgueiras wasn’t able to actually move into the modest Georgian townhouse, located in the Spitalfields neighborhood of East London, until two years after the purchase. And it would take another three years before it was completely done. The restoration included insulating the roof, rewiring the electricity, adding underfloor heating, and, generally, prodding the building into the 21st century.
When it came to the paints, though, he was singularly focused on bringing it back to centuries past. He used his new old home as a workshop of sorts to recreate lost colors, painstakingly hand-blending them, using linseed oil and age-old methods (think mortar and pestle), into historically accurate hues. Whereas modern acrylic paints never change, his, like the paints from centuries ago, do: “They don’t just fade, they actually change,” Felgueiras told the Times. “Which is part of their beauty.”
Join us for a tour of his soulful home, in living, ever-changing color.
Photography courtesy of The Modern House.