Instead of moving out of the cosy London flat that had been Rachel’s bolt-hole since 2008, the solicitor and her young family decided to renovate and extend their modest home with the expert guidance of HUTCH design.
The space, which is nestled between other residential flats as well as a shop and restaurant, was in need of a little TLC as its dated interiors and tight, segregated floor plan no longer suited the needs of this growing family.
Recruited by Rachel and her partner Richard to maximise the compact floor plan and lead the redesign and architectural restructuring of this project was contemporary design studio HUTCH design.
Considering the confinements of the floor space, HUTCH took on the challenge head first and developed an uninterrupted, open plan layout that flows through “a series of connected spaces that offer a sense of continuity rather than separation,” describes the founder of HUTCH, Craig Hutchinson.
Each of these areas act as flexible, multi-purpose spaces which can transform depending on the needs of the family at the time. This metamorphosis is made easy with the fitting of cleverly crafted folding walls. The new home office in particular beautifully illustrates this.
In a short moment, the study area can evolve into a third bedroom and expand as it opens out into the living space via the inventive folding wall mechanism.
Other space enhancing features include mirrors, a split-level layout, hidden storage and a large roof-light hovering just above the stairs that glows with natural light.
The integration of a dynamic split-level configuration was intended to encourage and foster social interaction between the family without them having to be present in the same room.
HUTCH design employed a minimal but consistent material palette, including light stained oak floorboards and plywood joinery, throughout the interior space. This continuity creates the illusion of one seamless space and, as such, feels larger than its 90 sq. m floor plan.
Soft furnishings helped the minimal setting feel more snug and HUTCH directed Rachel and Richard in the direction of light-weight crafted furniture to complement the renovated space.
Imaginative space-saving solutions have truly made this project an inspiring model for residential renovations as what was a deteriorating Hackney flat now stands as a modern, open space ideal for family living.
Questions for HUTCH design
We spoke to Craig Hutchinson of HUTCH Design about his approach to this project.
How much of the original building have you kept in tact?
The majority of the original building was kept in tact and we exposed the existing brick walls in the living areas to reflect this. We removed two structural walls, one at the side of the property to accommodate a new side extension (the 3rd bedroom/flexible office space), and the existing structural wall (where the breakfast bar is now located) between the kitchen and living room. A steel box frame was installed to create this opening and to support the wall of the flats above. We also lowered the existing suspended timber floor in the living area to increase the ceiling height and feeling of space in the centre of the home.
What are the benefits of open-plan living?
With the reconfigured open-plan interior layout – which is arranged over a series of three split-levels – the goal was to create a more dynamic, living environment encouraging family interaction between the different spaces in the home. We think that open-plan living helps to create family moments – we like that the parents can be upstairs in the kitchen whilst looking down on the children below, or guests can sit in the living area and look up at the owners whilst they are prepping or entertaining.
What inspired the calming interior design?
We selected a calming material palette throughout to create a light and relaxing home environment, given the original property was so dark. We also used mirrors in the kitchen and bathrooms. A high-level mirror above the kitchen shelving reflects the deliberately exposed ceiling joists, and by reflecting the ceiling, it visually extends the space giving the illusion that there is further space beyond.
Which is your favourite part of the house and why?
The relationship between the raised kitchen level and the lowered living room/dining space. By removing a structural wall in the kitchen we were able to link these two spaces together, and these are intersected by a new stair. Above the stair we installed a new full-width and length skylight, slotted in between two existing walls. We think this is where the project really comes together, the new roof light floods the home and kitchen with natural light, the stair intersects and combines the two spaces (kitchen and living) and there are new views from the kitchen down to the living space and vice-versa.. Looking up from the living room, we love the view of the exposed kitchen ceiling and high-level mirror which gives the impression that the joists extend continuously.
Location: Hackney, London
Project Size: 90 sq. m
Year of Completion: 2017
Architect & Interior Designer: HUTCH Design
Contractor: AK Decorating and Building Services
Building Control: MLM Building Control
Structural Engineer: Vincent Grant Partnership
Lighting: Blom & Blom
Kitchen: Designed by HUTCH and bespoke made on site; Siemans; Ikea
Bathroom: Crosswater; Villeroy & Boch; Hansgrohe
Flooring: Bert & May; Natural Wood Floor
Notable Furniture: Dining Table, Ercol; Coffee Table, Ercol; Chairs, HAY and Robin Day; Sofa, Loaf
Photography: Helen Cathcart
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