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CELESTIAL HEIGHTS

New Wharf Road, N1

Long before Tom Dixon and Thomas Heatherwick moved in – before the Eurostar even, astrologer to the stars, Sunday Times columnist Shelley von Strunckel, had a good feeling about King’s Cross. Unsurprisingly… her instincts were spot-on! The previous owner of this converted loft apartment not only recognised its unique spatial proposition, but also the untapped potential of its surroundings. Situated on the fourth floor of an old goods building the exquisite three-bedroom home plays off dazzling lateral volumes of ex-warehouse space, offering outstanding views of the city. The iconic vista of London pans from St Paul’s and the Shard across to the London Eye, whilst the gleaming water of Regents Canal, and a mosaic of long boats fascinates below.

For Shelley, this was a real passion project. She’d been looking for a loft specifically and had come to visit the space with low expectations, having not realised its unrivalled position over the canal. She told us, “When I walked in, I was stunned. It was love at first sight.”

The building still had many of its old fittings, from which some of the charming, original Crittall windows were salvaged. Everything else however, was gutted; the loft is basically an entirely new home in a period building. Shelley enlisted the help of her friend and designer, David Bentheim, to renovate the property and bring it into the 21st Century with all the mod cons, bells and whistles (yes, that includes underfloor heating!)

“My designer has a superb eye, and managed to both make this huge space liveable and also create a feeling of warmth while keeping the aesthetic distinctly contemporary. It's breath-taking but because David's an incredibly practical designer; I may be the only person in London who has more than enough storage space.”

Taking advantage of its fourth-floor positioning, the elongated, open-plan reception room is enhanced by a row of five south-facing windows which further illuminate the space and bring colours and textures to life. The light and the view dominate while the interiors sought to blend modern and classic furnishings with an eclectic mix of artwork – a powerful translation of culture and design that hangs together wonderfully. The general aesthetic was inspired by images of an Italian journalist’s loft whose enormous collection of books and writer’s lifestyle was in tune with Shelley’s.

“The furniture and art, in all the rooms, are seriously eclectic. Antique pieces, from Chinese to Biedermeier, to a very British campaign chest, combined with contemporary Italian (the soft furnishings). And, of course, who could live without Philippe Starck ghost chairs! One 'art wall', is actually storage, mostly for paintings that aren't on show, but also holds a dozen more ghost chairs, ready for parties.”

A keen entertainer, Shelley made sure the loft was well-equipped for dinner and cocktail parties. The home can easily fit 80 people for drinks! This is certainly helped along by the fact that the kitchen, a real chef's kitchen has been supremely kitted out with (as well as the usual suspects) a larder, a second dishwasher, champagne fridge and five-burner Falcon cooker. The counters are sleek black slate, with enough space to stage a meal for masses of guests.

Echoing the reception, the sprawling master bedroom has been cleverly designed with his ’n’ hers wardrobes – all beautifully built in – and opens onto a large en-suite bathroom. Throughout, everything feels sleek, clean and exquisitely well thought through and the space is such that it would feel custom-fit to almost anyone, any couple, any family… In total, the home has fourteen large windows whose collective soft light creates an atmosphere that is simultaneously boundless and cosy.

“People ask how I can possibly leave this amazing space. The answer is that I love creating magical places to live. I did it here, and I already know where my next one will be, and what it will look like.  Still, it will give me huge pleasure knowing somebody else is here, above the canal - and loving living in this unique setting.” – Shelley von Strunckel