Fran Hickman’s impeccable taste for minimalist interiors marries exceptionally with 23 Architecture's penchant for materiality, light and space in the refurbishment of this handsome four-bedroom Victorian terraced home. Occupying a half-moon terrace of stucco-fronted properties, the interior is exceptionally reimagined by the duo, who modernised the period property by redefining the layout.
When we spoke to Stuart Robertson, Design Director of 23 Architecture, we were curious about their choice of a free-flowing arrangement. “The design is conceived as a vertical loft apartment, with a series of stacked open-plan, inter-connected rooms resulting in a dramatic adaptation of the Victorian crescent house, the staircase at its core within a theatrical triple void of the closet wing volume” he explained, “this openness was brought about by our client’s desire for the interconnection of the main living spaces with the private bedrooms hidden away upstairs. It's modern open, forgiving and so easy to live in”.
This property is nothing short of dramatic with its sculptural staircase, inspired by Barbara Hepworth’s ‘Pelagos’, taking centre stage and uniting the exceptionally elegant design scheme implemented by both architect and interior designer. Quality craftsmanship, organic materials and natural light define this sophisticated home, establishing a new standard for period renovations.
When asked about the abundance of natural finishes in the home, Stuart stated that “with the dynamism of the forms, the material palette is calm and urban yet restrained. We used predominately natural stone, polished concrete, timber and ceramics – somewhat timeless and using such materials is pretty consistent throughout our work. Those details which come into contact to the human touch are embellished, lending a sense of warmth and quality such as the sculpted oak handrail or waxed bronze door handle.”
The entrance to this immaculate property leads to an expansive reception room and hallway from which the kitchen and private garden are clearly visible. From the onset, a conscious effort was made to minimise barriers in this home to enhance the natural flow throughout the property. The exceptional proportions are augmented by the natural light flooding in from various directions on the ground floor as well as the overhead skylights for a delicate and tranquil feel. Bursts of deep reds and yellows inject a warmth to the sizable dimensions.
Stepping down into the kitchen, the oak floorboards give way to smooth concrete with a small dining area for more informal gatherings. The oak is picked up again in the dexterous cabinetry and the concrete worktops complement the industrial flair of the kitchen. Fully equipped with high-end appliances and two sinks, the kitchen is a chef’s dream but concentrating on cooking may be hard with such a tempting view of the verdant sanctuary just beyond. A scenic dinner is the norm in this sleek kitchen, with the option of dining al fresco in the summer, a welcome change from the busy streets of central London.
Crittal doors are used to establish a borderless interplay between the home and the garden with the transition made more seamless with the flush threshold that continues the concrete flooring on to the terrace. The step down on to the luscious lawn delineates zones without the use of physical boundaries, establishing a dining/BBQ area and a space for relaxing. The neatly kept trees and foliage create an immersive woodland environment while adding a layer of privacy. Exposed brick walls are a picturesque frame for such a quaint landscape that celebrates the joys of the natural world.
Set against an eye-catching red mural by art Pierre Bonnefille and a deftly chiselled statement lighting feature, the winding staircase in the hallway is an architectural wonder. Ascending over five floors, the spiral staircase is lit by an overhead elliptical skylight at its summit and the use of timber and white plaster encapsulate the palette of the whole home. “The stair design evolved to become a delicate ribbon of intertwining materials- an outer surface of polished plaster contrasting with an inner timber lining finished in stained oak”, Stuart recalls. Theatrically wrapping around the vertical arrangement, it is a masterful rendition of light, shape, texture and colour that contrasts the sharp edges of its structure. A view of the property is available at every level, regular points from which to admire the talents of the designers involved.
An exposed landing is used as a display room with a table showcasing artwork that can be seen from the floors above. On the first floor sits a significant open-plan reception room that repeats the theme of white plaster and wooden accents. A feature marble fireplace interrupts this rhythm in the centre of the room, rising up to the ceiling, from which two ornate contemporary chandeliers hang. The simplicity of the room prevents it from being overwhelming and enables the curated décor to shine. Points of interest are interlaced throughout the room from the golden sculpture to the brass chair. A refined wooden island and bar stools outline a separate multipurpose section for casual working, dining or drinking. A set of French doors open on to a small balcony from which you can see the larger rear-facing roof terrace that can be accessed from the hallway. Ideal for entertaining the roof terrace overlooks the trimmed garden and cleverly holds concealed appliances that make hosting hassle-free.
Two bedrooms occupy the second floor, each with an en-suite. The first sports a sash window that takes advantage of the natural light and is kept humble with the use of honest materials such as cotton, wood and wicker. The adjoining bathroom continues the use of wood alongside a bathtub for a soothing soak. The second bedroom harbours an enviable four poster bed and the attached brightly lit bathroom is finished in warming brass. Patterned tiling and sleek edges capture attention and makes for a sophisticated setting.
The master bedroom inhabits the entire top floor with shades of white and wooden accents continuing the rhythm of the rest of the home for balance. The immensity of the room is softened by the curved entryway while the ease of the design narrative is comforting. Organic materials ground the space and the vaulted ceilings with exposed timber and steel are additional details that elevate the room. The splendid en-suite is a minimalist delight with warm copper undertones fusing effortlessly with the wooden features and marble walls for a harmonious and indulgent bathroom. Impeccably polished and brightly lit, it’s an oasis for rejuvenation at the end of a long day.
The lower ground floor of Horbury crescent consists of a music room and office space tucked behind a crittall divider. The helix stairway descends into a reception room that imitates the curved entrance of the master bedroom. Mirrored cabinets enlarge the dimensions of the room and add an element of glamour. Vintage furnishings, unique wall art and well-loved easel appeal to the creative atmosphere in this space. The office showcases a towering bookshelf that reaches up to the void separating the kitchen and hallway and repeats the industrial aesthetic of the above rooms. Warm woods with cool metal undertones dominate the style of this area, a clean and crisp affair that is conducive and ergonomic. Also located on the lower ground floor is a fitted wine cellar, with room enough for the most avid wine connoisseurs.