Our client works in the music industry, which requires regular international travel. His previous house in Yorkshire was too isolated to support his lifestyle as well as his network of friends and business contacts that are based in London.
He took a risk in purchasing, at auction, a site occupied by two derelict garages in vibrant Crouch End, North London. We were tasked with transforming this small constrained site into a three-bedroom family house with a high-quality of bespoke contemporary architectural and interior design, all on a limited budget.
The client’s brief was to create a bold design to reflect their individual character and minimalist style, reflected in the natural materials used in construction, including black facing brickwork used externally and internally, charred larch cladding, which contrast with warmer birch ply timber used throughout the interior alongside light grey resin flooring and grey Corian worktops. These materials provide a fresh reinterpretation of domestic style creating a unique design language.
The project was dominated by a limited budget, which was initially discussed as being enough to purchase an ‘Ikea’ kitchen only instead of something bespoke. The ground floor is the hub for the entire house, centred around the kitchen. The dining space and lounge area flow from the kitchen, with a separate and more private living space at first floor level. Working closely with the client we were able to widen their aspirations, using our experience in finding and specifying the best products for the situation.
After convincing the client on the benefits of a unique design, we then explored a variety of options. This process included an extensive review of different forms, layouts and configurations, and materials to be used within the space. To increase the openness of the space it was eventually decided to incorporate full height wall units with a parallel kitchen island to provide plenty of storage whilst exploring the cooking processes and use of the space in detail. With the larger appliances located within the tall wall units, the island accommodates a sink, preparation space and an induction hob with a concealed downdraft extractor. This enables the process of cooking as a participatory process encouraging social interaction with occupants and friends that visit.
The open-plan ground floor space incorporates the bespoke designed, handmade kitchen, along with dining, study and seating areas, all carefully configured to provide flexible use. The heart of the house is the kitchen and ensuring effortless circulation within the overall space was key, especially in an open-plan kitchen arrangement with limited floor area.
The layout provides for a compact workspace triangle, with the island introduced to provide additional preparation space and positioned to link the kitchen visually with adjacent spaces, and to provide views out onto the open courtyard. Main appliances including the fridge/freezer and oven are built into tall units against the side wall, maximising available floor space in the tight floorplan with a pragmatic solution that enables cooking and family interaction concurrently.
The palette of materials and colours applied throughout the house continues within this space with the treated birch-faced plywood used on unit fronts and on the staircase to infuse the space with domestic warmth, contrasting with the dark Egger board, the grey Corian worktops, black electrical appliances and taps, and dark grey facing brickwork. This composition is then unified, set over a monolithic light grey resin floor that runs as a finish throughout each of the three levels of the house,
With the planning restrictions imposed on us, incorporating traditional windows in every façade was not permissible, so introducing daylight and sunlight within the interior has been paramount. Continuous high-level patent glazing to the rear brings in an abundance of natural light from above, added to by full height glazing on the front balcony door and window. Walk on glass cast into the floor also enables additional natural light to filter down to ground and basement floors from a large rooflight.
Artificial lighting is carefully positioned to delineate the differing functions within the single space, with white cylinder pendants aligning with the kitchen island and contrasting black pendants over the dining area. Movable track lights are recessed in ceiling troughs over the tall units and dining area. Wall mounted fittings and LED strip lighting are installed to provide additional task lighting or atmospheric light. The whole to provide a warmth, comfort and ambiance to the space at night.
The project required collaboration between the architect, the main contractor, the kitchen fabricator based in Yorkshire, and the various component suppliers, bringing everything together to provide a consistent and coherent design language which is continued throughout the house.
The bespoke design was delivered to exceed the client’s initial aspirations on an IKEA kitchen whilst not exceeding their budget and was largely achieved through the time invested by us to understand the brief and ensure that this could be realised within the budget constraints.
Alan Crawford, Liam Bennett, Tim Spiller
Bailey Hague Joinery
Crawford Partnership is an established RIBA Chartered Architecture Practice based in North London specialising in bespoke architecture and interior design projects.
The practice has built a reputation for innovative design with projects completed on a variety of building types, often in challenging and constrained back-land or infill sites. Our design-led approach is synthesised with a considered appreciation of technology, cost control, space and light, maximising the potential of each project for our clients.
We engage with our clients throughout the process, evolving the concept design to realisation. Special attention and detail is required to explore each facet of a design from the macro massing, through the meso material selection and concept, down to the detail of every junction and finish.
Through this process, we look to respond to population increases, urbanisation and other trends in a sustainable way to create lifetime homes and neighbourhoods that will endure.