When architect Grant Straghan of Dedraft set out to remodel the 1930s London home he shares with his wife, Catherine, and their daughters, Betsy and Tilde, he sought to refine the layout while introducing texture, geometric forms, and a muted material palette with bursts of color.
"We were looking to increase square footage on almost every level of our three-story home, but were intent on maintaining the ground floor’s deep, low-slung proportions," Grant says. "It was about creating open, naturally lit, well-articulated spaces that enable flexible living."
The remodel—which took almost five months and began just a week before London’s first Covid-19 lockdown—yielded the family’s dream home, but at first the process felt more like a nightmare. "The timing couldn’t have been worse," Grant says. "There were delays, shortages, and restricted purchasing."
General Building Works
Windows & Doors
Blinds & Curtains
Rental During Construction
|Grand Total: £223,962|
The Douglas fir beams he’d ordered took (what felt like) an eternity to arrive, and the plaster he’d intended to use as a wall-and-ceiling finish was in scarce supply. "Because there was a shortage of gypsum plaster, we used lime plaster almost exclusively throughout the house," Grant says.
Though the lime plaster was not his first choice, it may have been the best option. The material’s soft texture absorbs sunlight, giving the interiors a subtle yet captivating glow.
The long-delayed Douglas fir beams, which Grant used for the ceiling of the kitchen/dining room, worked out in the end as well. "They sent what they had, and some were more gnarly than what we’d wanted," Grant says. "But this added more warmth in the kitchen, which is sunlit through five glazed openings."
Located in a rear extension, the kitchen/dining area was a top priority for the remodel. "The composition for this space was key," Grant says. "Our aim was to develop a coherent expression that features strong concrete elements, defined and deep-inset openings, and a simple yet bold palette of materials with distinct textural variation."
Clad in blue-green encaustic cement tiles, the extension has a sculptural quality when viewed from the rear yard. Grant partially framed the large glass doors with smooth bands of concrete, which tie in to the poured-in-place concrete bench—a place to sit on the terrace and enjoy morning coffee. "The bold, blue-green tiles have faded slightly with sun exposure, giving a soft, dusty aesthetic that changes with the seasons," Grant says. "The color and texture contrast with the London stock brick that clads the rest of the house."
A winding stairway crafted from Douglas fir plywood leads from the ground floor to the middle level, with two bedrooms and a study, and the attic, which Grant converted to a primary suite. An oculus at the top of the staircase allows sunlight to wash over the wooden railing and treads. "The balustrade folds to produce a naturally warm and ‘cocooning’ entry into the main bedroom," Grant explains.
Inspired by David Hockney’s painting A Bigger Splash (1967), Grant outfitted Betsy and Tilde’s bathroom with dark- and light-pink wall tile. "The girls chose pink, but the tones reference the Hockney painting," the architect says. "The square theme continues throughout."
Grant also looked to the works of architects Alvar Aalto and Peter Aldington while planning his home. "I was inspired by the domestic warmth of Aalto’s design for his home and studio, and Aldington’s Turn End, which eschews complex or visually jarring details" he says. "The chalky, lime plaster–finished walls and ceiling catch and soak up natural light, giving texture and depth. This house juxtaposes a muted backdrop with geometric forms, using color, tactility, and a play on proportions to underpin the composed whole."
More Budget Breakdown stories:
Construction: BWP Ltd.
Photography: Nick Dearden
Structural Design: SD Structures
Exterior Tile Cladding: Mosaic Factory
Windows & Doors: ARTBud
Fibre Concrete Cladding: Oko Skin and Fibre C via Purafacades
Rooflights: Sterling Build
Roof Window: The Rooflight Company
Roofing: Liquid Applied Solutions
Oak Setts: All Green Group
Concrete Paving: Schellevis via London Stone
Lime Plaster: Lime Green
Kitchen: Halcyon Interiors
Kitchen Worktop: My Kitchen Worktop
Ironmongery: Olivari via Williams Ironmongery
Douglas Fir Flooring: French Forest Floors
Ash Industrial Parquet Flooring: Horning
Terracotta Floor Tiles: Norfolk Pamments
Cast Iron Floor Tiles: Retrouvius
Internal Tiles: Ceramica Cumella, Porter Bathrooms, Claybrooks
Sanitaryware: CP Hart
Radiators: Cast Iron Radiators
Steel Shower Screen: John Horton Metalwork
Shower Screen Glass: SGG Mastersoft via Hourglass
Lighting: Hand + Eye Studio, vintage PH 4/3 Louis Poulsen, Charlotte Perriand, Wastberg, Artek A201, and Tradition, Marset, Twenty Twenty One, Schneid Studio, Menu, AstroSGG Mastersoft via Hourglass
Get the Renovations Newsletter
From warehouse conversions to rehabbed midcentury gems, to expert advice and budget breakdowns, the renovation newsletter serves up the inspiration you need to tackle your next project.