When Tanya McIntyre first spotted the property on a pretty tree-lined street in South West London, she had an instinctive response. ‘Great location, shame about the house,’ she recalls. ‘It was a rather ugly 50s-built construction, which was totally out of keeping with the rest of the Victorian houses on the road. Sadly, the original property had been bombed during the war, and this house had been put up in its place.’ Tanya has bought and refurbished a number of houses over the years, so she is no stranger to ambitious projects, especially as some have involved quite substantial amounts of renovation work.
But nothing quite as substantial as this. ‘I decided to knock down the 50s house and rebuild it in exactly the same style as the Victorian original, so that it would fit in more comfortably and elegantly with its surroundings,’ she explains. ‘I could see a golden opportunity to create a beautiful house designed for modern family living.’ The four storey, five bedroom house has a large open- plan kitchen-dining-living space on the lower ground floor.
With her two teenage children in mind, Tanya says she wanted somewhere for cooking, eating and relaxing together as a family, as well as for easy entertaining and socialising with friends. ‘This room is a typical London semi-basement area, so it was essential to make the room feel inviting and in no way dark or gloomy,’ she says. ‘The doors can be folded back completely, creating a totally open access area to the garden, and allowing lots of natural light to fill the space.
There’s also a huge skylight with a massive piece of glass that had to be craned into position over the top of the house.’ Smallbone of Devizes, according to Tanya, was the natural choice for the kitchen furniture. ‘I wanted a very good quality kitchen that would be in keeping with the style of the house, but with a modern edge,’ she explains. Working with senior designer, Julia O’Neill, their plans for the room began to take shape, and were centred on the striking double island design. ‘Julia had fantastic ideas and a great sense of style, so the process was easy,’ adds Tanya. ‘The room quickly became the place where we all want to spend our time. I love it here now
How did you begin the project?
The house was still a building site when I first saw it, but it was clear that the kitchen was going to be a big space looking out towards the beautiful garden. So I knew that it was important for the layout to make the most of that view, which dictated, for example, the position of the dining table in the ‘bay’ area by the glass doors. The two islands are designed to make the most of the huge space: one is for prep, the other for cooking. Both have areas for bar stools which makes socialising while cooking easy.
Can you tell us about the style and colours of the cabinetry and materials ?
The Original Hand Painted furniture by Smallbone is simple, classic and elegant, and not in any way fussy. It is painted in a very pale, almost white, shade of grey, which creates a very calm, almost Zen-like backdrop to the room. There is a wave detail machined into the surface of the doors of the tall cabinets at both ends of the wall run to add some subtle interest, an effect that is accentuated by the hand-painted finish. Tanya chose black surfaces for the worktops to add definition to the design, but their textured, matt finish softens the contrast against the grey of the cabinetry.
Given that the cabinetry is classic in style, how did you introduce the modern twist?
It is the details here that make all the difference. Crisp lines on the door frames, flat-fronted drawers, a simple cornice that runs the length of the wall, brushed steel Mandarin door pulls, sleek bar handles on the tall cabinets – these are all clean and contemporary.