An Architect Couple Give This 18th-Century Townhouse a Sumptuous Refresh

An Architect Couple Give This 18th-Century Townhouse a Sumptuous Refresh

By Michele Koh Morollo
Formerly a tavern and a weavers' house, a Huguenot-era building in East London (that once belonged to Keira Knightley) is reincarnated as a richly layered, atmospheric home.

The husband-and-wife duo behind London–based architecture and design/build practice Chan + Eayrs, Zoe Chan Eayrs and Merlin Eayrs, only work on one project at a time. The evocative details found throughout the renovation of The Weavers House are a testament to their focused approach.

Because much of the building’s original, historically significant interior features no longer existed, Chan + Eayrs were free to reinvent the space, adding their own twist to the Huguenot building’s vernacular vocabulary.

The home rests on a quiet corner in Spitalfields, a bohemian area in East London that was home to one of the city’s largest settlements of Huguenots—French Protestants fleeing oppression after Louis XIV revoked their civil rights in 1685. The Huguenot-style townhouses here are characterized by colored facades, wood-paneled walls, and external wood shutters.

This particular Huguenot building was built originally built in 1721 as The Three Tun Tavern, before it became a weaver’s house, then a fruit-and-vegetable warehouse.

Wood and veined Arabescato marble, used throughout the home, create contrasting warm and cool elements.

The walls were covered in raw lime plaster, and modern, flush paneling in rough, cross-sawn limed oak wraps around the interior walls to form cabinets, doors, and dado rails. 

The building was remodeled a number of times and owned by British actresses Samantha Morton, and Keira Knightley, before it passed into the hands of Chan and Eayrs, who redesigned the space to suit their own personal style.

"We enjoyed learning about the history of the area and the house, and wanted to celebrate its past and recognize its origins, yet create a home which is contemporary and personal to us," says Chan. 

The floor of the study, which is located on the lower ground floor, is fitted with vibrant clay tiles that brighten the lightwells.

Lush plants and cool shades of blue and green bring a little nature into this chic, urban home.

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For the kitchen, Arabescato slabs with little butterfly joints are combined with a large dresser with twisted brass pulls and shelves for firewood storage. 

The couple’s preference for raw, natural materials, tactile surfaces, and verdant color can be seen throughout the house.

Inspired by their travels to Morocco, where they got married, the couple chose Moroccan clay tiles for the ground floor and spread an assortment of Moroccan rugs across the original wooden floors. 

The antique Norwegian log burners in the living room are framed within semicircular hearths made of radial clay bricks. 

Zoe Chan Eayrs and her daughter Max relax on a Danish banana sofa that Chan + Eayrs reupholstered in Cream Pierre Frey velvet.

"Historically, this topmost room would have housed the silk weavers' rooms, but the room is now Zen, one where you might relax into a freestanding tub or sink into a bed of plumped up pillows," says Eayrs.

In the bathroom, a small antique marble basin is nestled within a limed oak alcove.

Before they began the renovation, Chan and Eayrs lived in the house for six months to get a good feel for the space.

Project Credits: 

Architect, builder, interior and lighting designer: Chan + Eayrs

Structural engineering: Devise Engineers  

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