This Former Chapel, Now a Heavenly Artist’s Studio and Home, Lists for £1.6M

This Former Chapel, Now a Heavenly Artist’s Studio and Home, Lists for £1.6M

By Kathryn M.
Architect Alex Nikjoo updated the London residence with a cantilevered mezzanine and rooftop terrace.

A bright and airy converted chapel is now up for sale in the East London enclave of Deptford. Dating back to 1906, the former religious structure was used on and off for years before the current owner, artist Anastasya Martynova, purchased the property in 2018 and enlisted local architect Alex Nikjoo to create a modern live/work space. The result is a dreamy and sunlit home complete with an expansive living area and a mezzanine-level studio set underneath the nave's original timber trusses.

Home to artist and designer Anastasya Martynova, the Utopia House occupies what was once a community chapel and mission hall. Architect Alex Nikjoo helped Martynova overcome years of neglect to turn the space into a modern art studio and three-bedroom residence.

A trio of windows illuminate the open-concept living/dining area and kitchen, complemented by skylights placed between each of the original trusses overhead. Updated finishes, including concrete floors and a wood-clad ceiling, modernize the space without overwhelming it.

In an interview with the listing agents, Martynova describes the renovation process and her vision for a multiuse residence. "I had an idea of the house being a sort of gallery space, where I could display both my own art, as well as interesting things collected from my travels," she says.

"Alex came up with the idea of a contrasting main space: Warm and cool, [with] concrete floors and a wood-clad "box" in the center that you could walk all the way around." The central structure also created the mezzanine studio and a hallway for the bedroom wing.

"[He] was very good at the technical aspects of the build, whereas I contributed to the finishes and colors. It was a great collaboration," Martynova adds.

Large potted plants divide a seating area within the expansive room. "It’s ideal for entertaining, the acoustics are amazing, and there is plenty of space to dance around," comments Martynova.

Opposite the seating area, a large dining table doubles as a workspace featuring Martynova's own artwork and sculptural pieces. 

"The building was in a really bad state of repair when I first saw it, [with] crumbling brickwork and water damage throughout," Nikjoo explains. "The design focused on restoring, preserving, and giving a new purpose to this neglected building."

He and his team first focused on repairing the existing shell and salvaging as many of the original details as possible. "The material palette of oak, birch plywood, oiled pine, and stone add a textural richness to the space, which balance the interventions against the simplicity of the original building."

Clad in birch plywood, the mezzanine level helps to define the kitchen. "For me, the most pleasing aspect of the project was the cantilevered mezzanine structure," Nikjoo says. "Imagined as a contemporary pulpit, [it] creates a nucleus for the building."

Matte black cabinetry is complemented by the granite clad island and countertops. A gold verre églomisé backsplash was handmade by Martynova.

"The main living area is definitely a stand out feature. The scale and volume of it is so rare for a home in London," Nikjoo comments. "[It] was also intentionally left open to allow for adaptation and personalization throughout the lifetime of the building."

The mezzanine level is a dreamy workspace, offering a 12-foot-long desk overlooking the living area, as well as direct access to the rooftop terrace and an abundance of natural light.

"I work with the doors open to the roof terrace," says Martynova. "[There is] a gentle breeze on one side and views of the plants and the palm trees below."

With just over 1,800 square feet of interior space, the home offers three bedrooms and two full bathrooms. The location also provides convenient access to New Cross rail and overground stations while being just a 15-minute walk to the banks of the River Thames. Keep scrolling to see more of the property, currently listed for £1,595,500 (approximately $2,110,000).

Double glass doors open onto the spacious terrace, which provides additional space for working or cultivating a rooftop garden.

Custom shelving and storage line a hallway behind the kitchen and leading to the bedrooms.

Here, the principal suite features a skylight above the bed.

Twin doorways provide access to a walk-in closet and en suite bathroom, the latter of which is finished in encaustic tiles from the Swedish brand Marrakech Design.

A look at the home's other full bathroom.

Outside, the facade is painted in a moody tone that contrasts with the lightly colored interior. A gated area provides dedicated and secure off-street parking.

The Utopia House, located in London SE8, is currently listed for £1,595,500 by Aucoot. 

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Alex Nikjoo / @alex_nikjoo

Interior Artwork: Anastasya Martynova /

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