A Rickety Gin Distillery Is Reborn Into a Bright, Award-Winning Home

A Rickety Gin Distillery Is Reborn Into a Bright, Award-Winning Home

By Michele Koh Morollo
A design duo strategically transform a dark, rundown distillery into their own modern abode.

When architect Rupert Scott and his wife, interior designer Leo Wood, first laid eyes on a London gin distillery, it was dark, dank, and not at all inviting. Yet, despite its flaws, the couple immediately purchased the property for its surreptitious character.

Thanks to a vision of creating a bright, modern family home, they worked together to completely gut the tired-looking building and reconfigure its interior layout. 

A new anthracite zinc roof sits within the walls, and protrudes upward to create extra interior height.

The cozy family room also serves as a playroom for the couple's two young children, and doubles up as a guest room with a sofa bed when needed. The space includes a bathroom with sliding doors that separates it from the main living area. On the upper level, the master bedroom looks out to the front terrace. 

Before the renovation, the darkest corner of the home was at the back of the property. To bring light to this part of the house, Scott created an internal roof terrace on the second floor.

Scott, who is the founder and director of Hackney-based Open Practice Architecture, was responsible for the architectural work, while Wood, founder and director of Kinder Design, took the lead on designing and styling the interiors.

Strategically placed light wells, screens, and openings allow light to move across the surfaces of the house throughout the day. 

Thankfully for the couple, the building wasn’t in a conservation area. After purchasing the property in the late summer of 2014, Scott was able to demolish much of the existing structure, keeping only the brick walls and concrete floor as his blank canvas.

Simple wood and brick contrast the industrial character of the concrete and steel, while also serving as sound dampeners.

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The new kitchen-living area is spanned by a 25-foot steel beam.

Because the distillery was landlocked by buildings on both sides, Scott had to find innovative ways to bring natural light in, while still maintaining visual privacy. 

Crittall windows cast playful sun squares along the floors, and deep exposed joists imbue the interiors with a warm golden glow.

The original building had a triangular plan, and featured concrete floors, a side alley lined with fridges, a mezzanine, and a corrugated roof. The large windows of the old distillery had been sealed with bricks, and the smaller windows had been barred. 

The living spaces on the ground floor now consist of exposed steelwork with polished concrete, timber surfaces, and large Crittall windows.

Scott incorporated four outdoors spaces into the floor plan of the new 1,760-square-foot home, which has since been longlisted for the Royal Institute of British Architects House of the Year. 

The upper floor has been set back at the front to make space for a another terrace with large potted plants.

At the back of the house, a black steel staircase rises toward a sun-drenched landing that continues on to two contemporary, cabin-like bedrooms.

Scott has incorporated a bespoke timber and steel staircase next to the terrace to create a sunny core. 

"It had been on the market for ages and the planners were glad someone was taking it on. It was so grim and densely overlooked that developers didn’t want it," says Scott. 

The bedrooms and bathrooms feature beautiful ceilings made of Scandinavian redwood.

"Because this site was so difficult, I went to pre-planning with almost fully worked-up designs," he continues to explain. 

The main bathroom is located off the stairwell. This area has cut-out openings that draw in plenty of light from a courtyard garden sited on the opposite side of the open-tread stairs.

An exterior drawing.

The ground floor plan.

The first floor plan.

Project Credits: 

Architecture: Rupert Scott, Open Practice Architecture 

Builder and Bespoke Staircase Maker: Evoke Projects Ltd. 

Structural Engineering: Constructure Ltd.

Interior Design: Leo Wood, Kinder Design 

Cabinetry Installation: Dickinson Woodworks 

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