At the turn of the millennium, a favourite property buzzword among councils was ‘live/work unit’. They had this idea that we would all like to live at the office. More than a decade on, people who bought these spaces have found them hard to sell as the office studios are often too small to accommodate most businesses but too big for someone who simply works from home. As a concept, they have failed.
Award-winning architects Orefelt Associates have shown how it should have been done with this awesome house. Once an industrial site, the house was designed and built over a two-year period to create a bespoke property that suited the needs of the owner perfectly. A huge split-level studio was more than big enough to cope with the demands of a small- to medium-sized enterprise and, crucially, it was self-contained. Once the director went home for the evening, he could shut the door and forget about work for the rest of the day.
And what a home to return to. A magnificent open-plan reception room incorporated a large dining and living area while double-height floor-to-ceiling glass doors provided uninterrupted views over the garden. The massive ceiling heights provided the perfect space in which to display the owner’s collection of tribal art and an unusual grouping of birch trees all cut to perfectly delineate between the dining and living areas. Elsewhere the home’s generous proportions provided a backdrop that was akin to a studio space. Massive naïve art canvasses complimented the owner’s other installations. The minimalist design allowed the art to take centre stage but interspersed amongst the owner’s Scandinavian style furniture were several iconic furniture pieces including a Barcelona chair and footstool.
A Japanese aesthetic came into play in the media room. Minimalist but with floor cushions providing handy seating for friends, the pared down furnishings drew the eye to the oversized vases that were filled with huge pieces of bamboo.
A generously sized kitchen with sleek units, iroko worktops and Smeg appliances could withstand the demands of almost any dinner party. The eco-friendly but generously sized house also featured a second lounge, a family room and five bedrooms including a stunning master suite with yet more floor-to-ceiling windows, a bathroom and dressing room.
Asked what his favourite part of the house was, the owner replied, “The roof terrace with its wonderful views and sunshine all day long.” Perhaps if more live/work spaces were designed like this, we would be working from home as those council planners once dreamed.