Property match: Colourful Harlesden home WLTM stylish family for fun and maybe more
PUBLISHED: 09:00 15 March 2016 | UPDATED: 10:04 15 March 2016
A pair of architects took this property from an empty shell to a family home for six. Now it’s looking for a new family to make this vibrant house a home.
“When we bought the house it was completely derelict. It had no windows. We had to put in a new heating system, new wiring, everything.”
Eight years later, architects Sabine Storp and her husband Patrick Weber are leaving the Edwardian family, which they renovated and lived in with their four children and giving up London life.
Their custom designed six-bedroom, semi-detached house is now on the market. The home showcases the distinctive architectural style they have honed with their company, Storp Weber Architecture.
Originally from Germany, the pair have lived in London for many years and are well acquainted with the north west, having worked on houses in Holland Park, Shepherd’s Bush and around Queen’s Park.
But transforming the Edwardian property on Park Road presented a new challenge for the creative couple, who are used to doing modern extensions.
While extensive work was required, they were very careful to retain the old charm of the place. “We left the original pieces that we could rescue. It’s sad when you completely rip these old things out,” says Storp.
“Usually with conversions, people want to restore them and make them look like the originals. But we kept things as they were – we worked with them rather than restore them. We were lucky that the staircase was still intact – it was really nice to have the original. We kept the original ceiling too.”
A careful choice of materials helped maintain the delicate balance between old and new. While the house is furnished in plywood – the architects’ preferred material at the moment, because “it’s easy to use and you can see the grain of the timber” – there are also plenty of touches that hint at the house’s history.
“We used concrete tiles outside which are cast with a Victorian pattern, to represent the heritage of the house,” says Storp.
First and foremost a family space, conveniently located close to several top schools, the architects thought carefully about how to best shape the interior to suit the needs of their four children, aged 20, 16, 12 and 6.
“For us it was really important to give them a safe and welcoming family home.”
To create a communal space, they converted the ground floor of the house into a modern, open plan area.
“The open plan worked really well with smaller children. It worked less well with teenagers!” Sabine admits, though the enormous private bedrooms upstairs offer the perfect chance to escape for some alone time.
From its immaculate appearance, you would never guess that four children share the house, which is set over three floors. But their parents are strict about mess and believe in the benefits of every item having its own place.
“I don’t like clutter, or having some things which are always visible. So there is storage space everywhere,” she says. “In the children’s rooms too there are cupboards and space under the beds.
“I think children’s rooms look very overwhelming when they’re packed with toys. Our children have to put their things away in the evening. I think that’s really helpful for kids. When they wake up in the morning it’s clean and they have a fresh start.”
Perhaps it is the lack of clutter that makes the daring choice of colour in the house even more striking. Bright orange, green, blue and yellow recur throughout the space as the colours of choice for bedspreads, rugs, paintings, even entire rooms.
“We use bold colours for all our projects,” says Sabine, “We really love them.”
But she also acknowledges that not everyone can brave the bold.
“Before the house was on the market some of the rooms were even brighter colours, the TV room was quite yellow, the toilet was really pink. But we toned them down because we thought people might be scared.”
Colour also plays an interesting role in the exterior of the property. The front door and window frames are painted an unusual dark grey.
Sabine explains that she wanted to avoid the dirty appearance of many London homes.
“The grey looks crisp,” she says, “It worked; it was eight years ago that we painted it and it looks like it was done yesterday.”
Surprisingly, the couple never produced drawings for the overall design of the house. Instead, they moved in soon after purchasing it, doing up each section of the house as they went along.
But despite all its contrasts, the overall effect is one of harmony. “That’s our job, to bring things together,” she says.
Her favourite thing about the house is its warm and welcoming atmosphere. “It has a lot of light and the house is insulated heavily, so it never feels cold.”
Sabine hopes the next residents will enjoy the space as much as her family did. “It is a very, very nice house to live in.”
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