A Once-Derelict London House Restored With Modern Elegance

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By Melissa Dalton / Published by Dwell
This older West London home must have once seemed beyond repair.

The roof terrace leaked water all the way to the first floor. Ceilings had collapsed. Every fireplace was blocked and many of its original features had either been removed or obscured beneath layers of paint. By 2015, the London-based architecture and interiors firm McLaren.Excell had reversed the damage. "Our approach was to identify where the building required careful restoration and where we could make contemporary insertions whilst respecting the original fabric of the building," writes architect Robert Excell in an email.  

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To start, the home's floor plan was reimagined. The kitchen was relocated to the ground floor beside the new dining room. The house's original layout of bedrooms and bathrooms was reestablished on the top two floors. Stair landings and hallways were designed to bring in natural light, enhance circulation space, and incorporate discreet storage.  

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Next came a restoration program guided by the residual fragments of the house's original features. A complete set of functioning shutters and a central timber staircase revealed themselves from beneath the decades of paint. The profiles of surviving joinery were replicated for all of the woodwork. The chimney pieces were rebuilt with historical accuracy and impressions of the remaining cornice sections taken for plaster reproductions. 

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According to Excell, contemporary elements were then introduced to "sit in contrast with the period detail of the house." This palette now includes Italian limestone, welsh slate, cast concrete, white oiled oak, natural un-lacquered brass and weathered zinc—"all naturally-derived materials which in time will attain their own texture and become part of the aged patina of the house." 

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