Logo

Seeing double: the house that was so good they built it twice

PUBLISHED: 09:30 17 February 2017

With its wide plot and enormous garden the new property turned out to be even better suited to the brief than the original

With its wide plot and enormous garden the new property turned out to be even better suited to the brief than the original

SHH Architects

What do you do when your client sells their new home before they have even moved in? Do it all again, but differently, says Stuart McLauchlan of SHH Architects

The sunken pool area is a sun trap in the summerThe sunken pool area is a sun trap in the summer

Repeat custom is the mark of a good architect but Stuart McLauchlan, associate director of super prime specialists SHH Architects, probably wasn’t expecting to hear from one set of clients quite so soon.

Having completed a home for a South African family with two young children in West Hampstead, McLauchlan was probably looking forward to an invite to their housewarming party.

Instead, whilst getting the house valued for a mortgage, the estate agent made the client an offer he couldn’t refuse.

“His wife came back from holiday with the children and he had sold the brand new house they hadn’t moved in to yet,” McLauchlan explains.

Laid back, South African style living with access to the outdoors was the order of the dayLaid back, South African style living with access to the outdoors was the order of the day

“So that is how we landed the second project so soon after the first one!”

With the pressure on to find another home to renovate, he accompanied the clients on several site visits before settling on a Highgate plot that actually suited them even more than the first had.

“They were looking for something more horizontal and this house was perfect.”

Time and budgets were tight, but McLauchlan hails from the same hometown as the clients, so he understood their desire to transport a slice of South African-style living to Highgate.

There are no formal, isolated spaces in the open plan designThere are no formal, isolated spaces in the open plan design

“They wanted a lovely place that made them feel a bit like they were in South Africa with a lot of indoor / outdoor space so on warm days they could spill out in to the garden from the house,” he says. “It is a comfortable space that feels like home, nothing too grandiose or crazy.”

There are no isolated spaces in the main living area, as the clients were keen to avoid a stuffy formal dining room that would only be used on high days and holidays.

Instead the open plan reception area encompasses easy living and dining areas, whilst a sliding screen can be drawn across the kitchen to allow catering staff privacy for large scale entertaining.

Rather than simply produce a redux of the first project, McLauchlan went back to the drawing board.

The clients discovered that the glass splashback doubled nicely as a family plannerThe clients discovered that the glass splashback doubled nicely as a family planner

“We didn’t replicate anything from the old house except the timber flooring, but we knew what they liked so what we produced interior design wise was on the money.”

Understated luxury to facilitate easy living was the order of the day.

“It wasn’t overly complicated, it wasn’t overly lavish. Most of the walls were just painted to show of their art collection,” he explains. “We knew where all big pieces were going when we were designing it.”

Along with the natural wood flooring throughout they chose cream stone for the entrance hall and staircase, whilst three large slabs of quartzite make up the kitchen floor.

A subterranean pool in a glass box proved to be a technical challengeA subterranean pool in a glass box proved to be a technical challenge

For the kitchen McLauchlan installed a large back painted glass splashback, which the clients found doubled perfectly as a whiteboard.

“They use it for scheduling all the kids’ movements and dog walking. Their whole life plan is on there being constantly updated,” he says. “I have since adopted it to use on other projects.”

The finished style is contemporary without being too flashy or modern.

In a nod to the 1970s neo-Georgian style of the original house they included oversize cornicing and skirting boards, but apart from the façade the house is essentially a new build.

Highgate House, SHH ArchitectsHighgate House, SHH Architects

“We rebuilt everything from scratch. By the end there were only a few bricks left of the original.”

Compared to the project in the enormous garden, the main house was a breeze.

In a feat of supreme technical engineering a heated swimming pool sits in a glass structure, which had to be sunk below ground level in order not to disturb their neighbour’s sightline.

“That pool wing is a technical marvel,” says McLauchlan. “It was the smallest part of the project but the most complicated.”

Overall they managed to create 8,000sq ft of accommodation, where the house that had previously been on the site had a mere 5,000sq ft.

Completed in 2012 in just two years, the contract work cost a cool £2.8 million, although in today’s market McLauchlan reckons you would be lucky to do the same for less than £5 million.

For McLauchlan it is a rare opportunity to show off his work. Due to his personal relationship with the clients they are happy for their home to be displayed in the press and on the SHH website, but most of his clients require absolute privacy.

“The day we get the projects we sign a non disclosure agreement,” says McLauchlan. America, Beijing, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Nigeria, Moscow, Italy France; the list reads as a catalogue of super prime property destinations.

Operating at such a high level of the market, you’d think these ultra private clients would demand absolute secrecy for security reasons. In reality they’re much more worried about keeping their bespoke designs on lockdown.

“Everyone thinks people are going to nick their ideas.” McLauchlan explains.

“It is frustrating,” he concedes. “All of our best projects are unfortunately not allowed to be shown to any body.”

Instead, SHH has to rely on word of mouth – and returning clients, of course.

Shh.co.uk

Property search


e.g. Oxford or NW3
Powered by Zoopla

Other Hampstead and Highgate property news

Transform your outside space by repointing your garden path

Richard Burr reveals how in five simple steps

Top ten things renters need to know

From losing your deposit to falling foul of unprofessional landlords, make your renting experience as easy as possible by reading these top tips

Revealed: How much it costs to buy a property in Camden per square metre

Property buyers are spending more than £12,000 for just a square metre in the north London borough, figures show

Sitting pretty: Everything you need to know before choosing a new sofa

Buying a new settee can be stressful. Three experts share their top tips and trends to plump for.

Hampstead new luxury penthouses already 50% sold to mostly local buyers

71 per cent of the two to five bedroom apartments have sold to families nearby, underlining an appetite for family-sized luxury new-builds in the area

Property of the week: Guildens

A rare opportunity to purchase an unmodernised house which has been in the same ownership for nearly 60 years

Need a new front door? Here’s how to revamp your old one and save money

Refreshing your home’s entrance is a big job. Richard Burr reveals his 5 top tips for a perfect paint job

9 autumn must-buys to cosy up your home

Whether you’re styling up a snug room, or just want to something comfy to curl up in now the nights have started to draw in, now is the perfect time to ‘fall’ into something luxuriously soft and snuggly. Or, you could tap into an Alpine theme and add a touch of cosy-cabin chic.

For sale in Hampstead: top three

On the market now, we’ve found studio and duplex apartments with great transport links, and a striking period residence holding many of its traditional features in Hampstead

Hampstead area guide: shops, theatre, schools and the Heath

Your guide to things to do in Hampstead, including the best shops, cafes, restaurants and schools. PLUS our guide to property in NW3

The Conservative and Labour housing policies explained

The prime minister proposed the build of 25,000 extra social homes in two years, while Corbyn announced plans to implement a cap on rent increases

Five things buy-to-let landlords need to know going into 2018

From house price and rental yield statistics to minimising voids, here’s everything you need to know

The top six things that are likely to devalue your home, according to new research

Swimming pools and solar panels are among the most undesirable property features, new research has found

North London developers prepare to unveil luxury collection in Fortis Green

The Fortis Collection has used a number of locally sourced materials and prides itself on being “incredibly energy efficient”

Choose the right tools for the great autumn tidy-up

As you begin to rake leaves, trim shrubs and shape trees in the garden in autumn, we look at essential tools to help you get the job done quickly

For sale in Tufnell Park: top three

On the market now, we’ve found apartments with green private gardens and a luxurious two bedroom new build in Tufnell Park

New eye tracking technology reveals what buyers really look at when viewing a property

Research found that only four per cent of eye movement time is dedicated to considering property layout, repairs or structural features

British-Canadian designer Patrick Cox has sold his Little Venice pad for £2.75m, before moving to Ibiza

Fashion designer Patrick Cox has found a buyer for his 1,908 sq.ft (177 sq.m) Victorian villa in Little Venice, as he prepares to move to Ibiza and start on another ‘grand designs’ style property project

Tufnell Park area guide: schools, restaurants, station and The Dome

Your guide for things to do in Tufnell Park, including the best shops, cafes, restaurants and schools.

What’s the best conifer for you?

Conifers used to be seen as dull, boring and way too tall - think Leylandii and you get my drift - but so many new varieties are now on the market that you can add colour, architecture and form to your garden when everything else has entered winter dormancy.

What to consider before buying your first property

The help available - and pitfalls to avoid - for first-time buyers

Home of the Week: Striking five storey townhouse in Hampstead Village

Denning Road, Hampstead Village, NW3

Don’t miss the last weekend of London Design Festival

The annual celebration of all things design has taken the capital by storm this September. Make sure not to miss the last weekend before the festival closes its doors on Sunday.

Top tips for first-time landlords

We discuss climbing the buy-to-rent property ladder with first-time landlords and local industry experts.

Camden mews property transformed into couple’s forever home

A 1960’s Camden property has been redesigned using a number of locally sourced materials

For sale in St John’s Wood: top three

On the market now, we’ve found apartments with great natural light and spacious entertainemnt areas in St John’s Wood

Camden homes among hardest hit as London asking prices record biggest fall of the decade

Asking prices for homes in Camden have fallen an average of seven per cent in past month.

St John’s Wood area guide: Beautiful homes and top shops, cafes, restaurants and schools

Your guide to all the things to do in St John’s Wood, including the best shops, cafes, restaurants and schools.

The top gardening books to give you ideas and inspiration as autumn sets in

As the weather cools down, you can warm up indoors with a crop of new gardening books to inspire you.

Acclaimed designer Tom Dixon to relocate headquarters to King’s Cross

British designer Tom Dixon is relocating his studio, showroom and cafe from Portobello Dock to the city’s King’s Cross district, as the UK capital’s creative scene continues to move east.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

2017 © Archant Community Media Ltd

Terms and conditions | Cookie policy | Jobs at Archant