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Artful Victorian: Sculptor Alex Chinneck’s Renovated Family Home In London

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Artful Victorian: Sculptor Alex Chinneck’s Renovated Family Home In London

March 20, 2017

Thirty-three-year-old London sculptor Alex Chinneck is an architectural provocateur: He builds (or meddles with) structures in ways that are both playful and provocative. A while back, he detailed an old East London factory with 312 identically smashed windows. A derelict house in the seaside town of Margate received a façade that had slipped off the top floor and onto the sidewalk. And as part of London’s Merge Festival, he built a full-scale Georgian house of paraffin bricks that gradually melted.

What could Chinneck’s own house look like? He and his partner, the dress designer Lu Flux, and their young daughter, Bloom, live in an eight-bedroom brick Victorian in Forest Gate, in the East End, that they lovingly revitalized, filling it with orphaned antiques, such as a combination bathtub and sink, and a mix of colors that only an artist would choose. The family had previously lived in his studio in Hackney; the house, Chinneck says, is his ode to domesticity—“so I’ve resisted the temptation to melt this one.” Ready to become serial remodelers, the couple are selling their place via The Modern House and Chinneck offered to show us around.

Photography via the Modern House.

 “i was going for rural victorian, whatever that is,” says chinneck of the 9
Above: “I was going for rural Victorian, whatever that is,” says Chinneck of the overall look. The marble fireplaces are original.
the living room moldings are also original; chinneck used them to create three  10
Above: The living room moldings are also original; Chinneck used them to create three-quarter walls in Farrow & Ball Hague Blue paired with off-white chalk paint. “Victorian living rooms are so generous in height and light, you can paint a space navy and it won’t feel dark.

The cast-iron chandelier is one of the many pieces Chinneck picked up on his prowls: “My work constantly takes me around the UK and I enjoy visiting auction houses as I move about. This gas fixture came out of a Victorian mansion that was being demolished in Northern England. It’s rewired and on a dimmer.”

the dining room—in farrow & ball breakfast room green—has an intricate  11
Above: The dining room—in Farrow & Ball Breakfast Room Green—has an intricate pitched pine floor created from the backrests of church pews. “The pews had been outside for many years, so had aged in unique and very beautiful ways. We used 750 pieces; needless to say, it was a huge amount of work.”

The dining chairs also came out of a church (note the hymnal holders). Chinneck says he won the chandelier for £8 (approximately $10) at an auction.

 though it looks like it’s been there a good while, the kitchen received a g 12
Above: Though it looks like it’s been there a good while, the kitchen received a ground-up makeover. The cabinets are walnut and the counter is polished granite. The hanging copper lights came out of an East London pub.
 “i exposed the brickwork of the chimney breast and installed a restored sky 13
Above: “I exposed the brickwork of the chimney breast and installed a restored sky-blue Aga within it,” Chinneck tells us. “We continued this pastel palette by leaving the kitchen walls as exposed pink plaster, which were sealed with a glaze.”

For more British kitchen inspiration, see 10 Ways to Achieve the Plain English look.

 the yellow paneling around the doorway came out of a nursery school art room  14
Above: The yellow paneling around the doorway came out of a nursery school art room that was being refurbished.
Above left: The hallway features a lineup of armoires and an archway salvaged from a church conservatory. Above right: Of the restored stair, Chinneck says, “We stripped the handrail back to the mahogany and the balustrades back to a treated pine. Both were then glazed with shellac.”
lu flux makes women&#8\2\17;s and kid&#8\2\17;s clothes from antique fa 17
Above: Lu Flux makes women’s and kid’s clothes from antique fabrics. A collage of vintage photos decorates a wall in her home studio. Note the surprise unpainted drawer on her whitewashed armoire.
 the master bedroom features an iron and brass bedstead that chinneck found on 18
Above: The master bedroom features an iron and brass bedstead that Chinneck found on the Isle of Wight.
 a white painted wood floor, antique wood chests, and a restored vintage radia 19
Above: A white-painted wood floor, antique wood chests, and a restored vintage radiator in another bedroom.
a homemade desk is tucked under eaves with a new skylight in a spare bedroom. 20
Above: A homemade desk is tucked under eaves with a new skylight in a spare bedroom.
 cabbage roses with an artist’s touch. in a house with eight bedrooms, some  21
Above: Cabbage roses with an artist’s touch. In a house with eight bedrooms, some beds end up on the floor.
 “we kept the victorian cupboards, but completely refurbished the bathrooms, 22
Above: “We kept the Victorian cupboards, but completely refurbished the bathrooms,” says Chinneck. The master bath, shown here, has exposed brick walls and a Victorian high tank toilet with a wooden seat (see Object Lessons: The Old-Fashioned Loo).
the sink is cast into the bath. a zigzag of black and white marble tiles patter 23
Above: The sink is cast into the bath. A zigzag of black and white marble tiles pattern the shower.
 bloom’s room has an antique mahogany sleigh crib/bed with detachable sides. 24
Above: Bloom’s room has an antique mahogany sleigh crib/bed with detachable sides. Flux makes all her daughter’s clothes, and the patchwork banner is also her work. A Fortnum & Mason wicker picnic hamper serves as a toy chest.
 more salvaged church pews were turned into wainscoting. note the towel warmer 25
Above: More salvaged church pews were turned into wainscoting. Note the towel warmer situated between the pedestal sink and freestanding tub.
chinneck bathroom london
Above: “I like this bath,” says Chinneck, “it’s like an old bar.”
 the room has an unexpected glass walled shower that shows off a checkerboard  27
Above: The room has an unexpected glass-walled shower that shows off a checkerboard of marble tiles.
 chinneck’s home office is in the attic. of his pine table he says, “i ha 28
Above: Chinneck’s home office is in the attic. Of his pine table he says, “I hate a cluttered desk, so I made mine massive to make it harder to cover.” For desk lights like Chinneck’s see 10 Easy Pieces: Industrial-Style Task Lamps.
 the house was built in the \1890s and has new outdoor lighting that chinneck  29
Above: The house was built in the 1890s and has new outdoor lighting that Chinneck made from reconditioned antique French lanterns. For more details, go to The Modern House.

We’re drawn to artists at home. Here are three more favorites:

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