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IN CONVERSATION WITH SOPHIE NGUYEN

Sophie Nguyen Architects l Pangbourne Avenue

1st Sep 2020

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A seriously fun, bold and eclectic family home in the heart of North Kensington, Sophie Nguyen Architects injected their energetic and bold style into every pocket of this impressive end-of-terrace house. Sophie not only considered the quirky triangular layout of the property but also used it as inspiration to come up with a design that translates the fun layout within. Arranged over four floors, the striking space offers an open-plan kitchen / dining room on the ground floor, teaming it with solid wooden floors and bright primary colours to complete a zone that undeniably sets the scene for the rest of the home. Contrasting the social spaces, the six bedrooms display a far more neutral palette, showcasing the cleverly conceived design throughout each and every space. Perhaps the most eye-catching and celebrated detail within is the bright yellow kitchen space – simply divine. Taking the leap to set up her own company in 2003, Sophie has since established a reputable name for herself in the architecture world alongside receiving countless awards for her spectacular out-of-the-box projects. The RIBA Chartered practice dedicates itself to designing beautiful, spacious and noble spaces, regardless of how small or complex they are. Particularly interested in urbanism and housing projects, the studio thrives on collaborative relationships in each of their projects. We had the opportunity to sit down with Sophie to discuss all things design about this knockout space on Pangbourne Avenue.

Sophie, how did you initially approach designing the interiors of this beautiful end-of-terrace house on Pangbourne Avenue?

When we bought the house, it was a typical two-storey 1930’s end-of-terrace house. There was no basement, not even a cellar. The house had subsidence issues which needed to be fixed by increasing the existing shallow foundations. As a result, we decided to go deeper and create a new basement under the whole of the existing ground floor. One of our aspirations was to create a basement floor which would not feel claustrophobic and dark but rather would be flooded with natural light and would have a view to an external space. We wanted a multifunctional family room that would be used all the time and did not want the lights on during the day. So, we dug a little further in front of the new basement to create a lightwell and patio area. As a result, the basement has a fully glazed façade. It is flooded with natural light and is used intensively. It has variously been an office, a living room, a library, a sleepover space, and, yes, a gym and a cinema.

You were given over 2,000 square feet of space to work with – how did you approach the size in your final aim of the project?

The original house had two storeys and a side annexe totaling about 1,400 sq ft. With the new works, we added about 720 sq ft. to the house. The main aspiration for the total refurbishment and extension of the house was to create a spacious home, with generous volumes flooded with the beautiful east and west sunlight.

How would you define your interior style and aesthetic?

I love when rooms feel spacious, airy and light. I am very sensitive to how natural light and sunlight can be joyful and can transform a space. The height of a room is also very important. A space should be scaled to our body and how we experience it. Our eyeline is about 1.50 – 1.70m above the floor. A room of about 2.80, gives ample space above your eyeline to create this sense of generosity; you don’t feel crushed.

Can you tell us more about the colour selection of the home.

The colours of the planes defining the space such as the walls, ceilings and floors are mainly defined by their material. The walls and ceiling are plastered white, allowing the light to bounce and enhancing the sense of space. The floor is made of solid oak planks which are left natural with just a clear matt protection. The staircase to the basement is treated as a sculptural object but is also the result of the construction constraints. The panels supporting the stair treads are structural and are coloured red, with the rest of the walls around the staircase being left white. When I chose the red colour and when I designed the shape of the handrail, I had in mind the beautiful pieces of the American artist, Ellsworth Kelly.

What was the inspiration behind that super cool bright yellow kitchen?

The kitchen sits on the side of the main room and is in plain view. It is treated as a sculptural object; an ode to cooking rather than just a functional space. The joy that comes from preparing meals together and eating them is celebrated with a warm and joyful colour. The gloss finish adds the reflection of the space around it and extends it.

The layout of the home, is more than anything, incredibly unique. What were the challenges and rewards when it came to work with such as space?

The house is laid-out so that the ground floor and the basement contain the shared living spaces. They are open-plan and connected physically and visually, with the basement opening directly onto the front patio and the ground floor onto the rear garden. These living spaces are physically separated from the private spaces on the upper floors. We learned to particularly appreciate this layout when our daughters took over the basement to spend time with their friends.

How would you describe the home in three words?

Joyful, Convivial, Restful.

What is your favourite part of the home and why?              

We loved spending time on the ground floor, with its reception room opening out on the south / west-facing garden, and then in the sunny room created in the basement. Every member of the family would use these spaces for different reasons, some to listen to music in the basement, some to lounge and read in the red sofa, some to prepare lunch, and some to work on the dining table just before everyone sits together for lunch.

sophienguyenarchitects.com

IG: @snasophienguyen

Pangbourne Avenue is now for sale.

Images 10, 14 & 15 Credits to Hufton + Crow