A Claustrophobic London Mews House Gets a Smart Redesign

A Claustrophobic London Mews House Gets a Smart Redesign

By Lucy Wang
In North London, a small mews house suffering from lack of light gains a bright refresh with space-saving features.

Dark, dated, and claustrophobic, this Hackney mews house that London–based firm HUTCH design was tapped to renovate was in desperate need of a modern refresh. For starters, the clients—a young couple with two children—were running out of space to raise their growing family.

Axonometric diagrams of the before-and-after.

"Given we had a free-flowing, open-plan approach for this house, we wanted the furniture to reflect that also, with largely selected furnishings that were lightweight," say the architects, noting that many pieces have splayed legs.

Located in the back of Broadway Market on Dericote Street, the brick home was flanked by buildings to the side and rear, which limited access to natural light.

"Because the existing home was small, and the clients needed more space for their two young children, the design brief was largely to provide extra accommodation for a growing family," explain the architects. 

The dining and coffee tables are from Ercol. The chairs are from HAY.

"But crucially, we needed to utilize and maximize the space as much as possible…and really wanted to flood the house with natural light and reflect this throughout the property."

Shop the Look
Gubi Grasshopper Floor Lamp
Upon moving to California in 1940, Swedish architect Greta Magnusson Grossman began combining her European training with a West Coast aesthetic, adding a sense of play. Her Grasshopper Floor Lamp (1948) resembles its namesake in form, with a lithe tubular steel frame and elongated conical shade.
HAY Black J110 Chair
Hay’s J110 dining chair, designed by Poul M. Volther, is a beautiful wooden chair made of solid beech. J110 has the same seat height as other dining chairs of the collection, but because of its high back and armrests, it bears a certain resemblance to a lounge chair.

The stairs, built of white-stained engineered oak, connect the lower-level living area with the kitchen and bedrooms.

To that end, the architects redesigned the layout to have a more flexible, open-plan arrangement. This, along with an added side extension, converted the former two-bedroom, one-bath home into a three-bedroom, two-bath property, all within 970 square feet. 

"We wanted to create a series of interconnected spaces that offered a sense of continuity rather than separation, and we accentuated this by using consistent materials throughout the interior," continue the architects. 

The stairs lead up to a home office that can be closed off with bespoke folding doors to become an extra bedroom for guests.

"With the reconfigured interior layout—which is arranged over a series of three split-levels—the goal was to create a more dynamic living environment, encouraging family interaction between the different spaces in the home."

Plants—sourced from Conservatory Archives—breathe life into the minimalist spaces. The lighting fixtures are from Blom & Blom.

The minimalist furnishing selection helps maintain an airy, open feel throughout.

Consequently, the architects knocked down a structural wall between the kitchen and living room, and installed a steel box frame to support the flats above. 

Bert & May Terracotta Arcilla handmade tiles line the kitchen floor and are complemented by cabinets with IKEA carcasses and white-sprayed MDF doors. There is also a cast in-situ concrete counter, which can be used as a secondary dining area or breakfast bar.

This change, along with the addition of a full-width skylight over the stairs, flooded the home with natural light, making a remarkable difference on the previous windowless kitchen.

A high-level mirror above the white-tile backsplash reflects the deliberately exposed ceiling joists, while also visually extending the space.

A greater illusion of space was also achieved with reflective white-painted walls throughout. More so, strategically placed mirrors were integrated into the kitchen, bathrooms, and multifunctional spaces, and modern, lightweight furnishings were selected to fit the scale of the home.

A peek inside the bathroom. This space is lined with matte white tiles and pale gray grout.

Here is the ground-floor floor plan.

A look at the first-floor floor plan.

Here is an axonometric diagram of the stairs and kitchen.

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: HUTCH design

Builder/General Contractor: AK Decorating & Building Services

Structural Engineer: Vincent Grant Partnership/ Graham Grant

Lighting/ Interior/ Cabinetry Design: HUTCH design

Other: MLM Building Control

 Where to Stay in London


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.