a new arts and crafts - a maple kitchen - north oxford house

North Oxford house with an arts and crafts twist        

Kitchen

hand made kitchen in maple with crafted panels, pre mural.

The Parktown area of Oxford is a famous landmark site and this project was sited within one of the crescents that exists. The house was built in the late 1850's and was designed by Samuel Lipscomb Seckham using bath stone as the main building material. He was a surveyor who was commissioned by St John's college to develop the area. Should you wish to visit you will see that It is very reminiscent of the famous crescent at Bath, and was no doubt designed to air a similar grand quality.

The project was to be the total revamp of one of the houses in the crescent (in stages), and as such the owners had decided to commission us to 'lift its spirit'. This project was a total pleasure in many ways, as we both loved the house and its character. The house is set out over 5 floors, the piano nobile with the drawing room and dining rooms on the 1st floor with views over the Parktown gardens. Initially there was not a great deal of harmony in the house (design-wise) as it was split into several separate apartments at some point in its near history. This then meant having a total vision for the place, whilst staging the works and bringing the different spaces together again. Whilst first impressions of the house in this state would to many dictate a total 'rip out' and refurbishment, we felt, with the support of our clients, that a restoration approach could achieve more and retain the character of the property. Restoration is a gentler, but more intricate, complicated and sometimes time consuming project, but the end result is so much subtler and kinder to the house that we believe it is well worth it. It seems a shame for example to replace a lathe and plaster wall with modern plasterboard just because it is flatter - after all, the character of an old house is in the quirks (and ripping out old lathes always makes we think of the person who whittled each piece of timber individually).

Whist full of character, the house had been badly mistreated in some ways, and many of the period features were somewhat obscured. Its most notable features were the beautiful handrail that trailed throughout the floors; the tall glazed internal doors; the high ceilings with original cornice and the fireplace in the ground floor living space. The main carrera marble fireplace housed decorative Duncan Grant tiles and it was this detail that gifted us the idea of using art and craft to give the house an artisan feel, that it possibly once had. We wanted to take the core concepts of arts and crafts, but tweak and modernise, and see if the ethos and character could also work within a contemporary and modern sleekness. 

Many of the items that you will see throughout are either one-off or unique in someway. So, while we adapted some of the arts and crafts designs, we weren't faithful to them. In fact we gave the designs a modern twist, something that would sit alongside individual modern items and not look out of place.

It is a house like no other and so for inspiration we decided to visit Blackwell House, an arts and crafts exhibition house, situated in the Lake District, which houses a wonderful collection of relevant pieces. William de Morgan tiles adorn the fireplace surrounds in the large house. Also on show in the exhibition at the time, were lots of ceramic work. The hallmark of the arts and crafts period was the level of embelishment. Nothing was left blank and ordinary if at all possible. 


At the time of investigating where we should place our design, we came across an artisanal nature to the craft industry in Holland and in the UK.  Leading designers like Hella Jongherius, were bringing their passion for 'handmade' skills within modern production methods to the table. 

cowparsley splashback with led lighting


So it became quite clear, that within the make over, it wouldn't be out of place to acquire craft from other sources to sit alongside our own brand of arts and craft informed designs, and link through for a very unique experience.

initial design concepts

initial design concept 2 (island unit)
.

The project began at the deep end with the transformation of the kitchen and ground floor lounge area that ran into each other separated by 2.8m high glass double doors.

kitchen; The main features are the maple worktops,
white washed flooring, mural, backlit bespoke splashback and the Hans Wegner dining room set with a soaped wood finish, the aga that sits in the middle and the suspended lighting. 

the lighting with its suspension cables allows flexibility in the positioning of the light modules.

Its a galley style kitchen, tapering to the back wall. A 3 metre long worktop island unit separates the dining space from the rest of the kitchen, and cupboard doors to the dining side give access to plates and glasses. The island unit is made using solid maple, providing storage and housing two built in fridges. An electric oven and a ceramic hob supplement the aga, and provide alternative cooking means during hot summers. The handles were created using maple and brass as an insert. Each of the handles were carved with their own unique pattern.


The element of carving and piercing also shows in the end panel of the island unit. 

fine detailing in the maple 

brass inlay into the maple side panel

The colour scheme is light cream, sage green, natural blond wood with black elements and details. On the wall with the aga to the centre, a long set of wall units with doors in a matte sage green, spans the full length of the room, straddling the large chimney breast, serving to emphasize the length of the room. Below, the base units continue in solid maple.



The lighting throughout the room was commissioned from Album lighting via the marvellous Cameron Peters Fine Lighting  based in Ardington, near Wantage, Oxfordshire. Album, an Italian firm, specialise in suspended LED and halogen lighting for heritage projects - since the cabling runs around the top of the walls, and is only fixed at minimal points, it is perfect for heritage or valuable ceilings, and much more sensitive a scheme than halogen spotlights. We chose a mix of light modules for interest and to mark different areas - thus elegant blown glass fittings are suspended above the dining table, and architectural spotlights provide task lighting above the island. For fun, a single moon piece hangs above the sink area.

Full height sliding wooden doors act as shutters in front of the glass doors which lead to the garden. We adorned these with a mural of cow parsley, in a slightly darker colour than the paintwork, so as not to make it too pronounced, but play with how you percieve the room and how you experience it. 


















The cowparsley theme ran into the splashbacks. This was experimental (a technique more often associated with exhibition stands) but works tremendously well. They are very colorful and add another level of patternwork that uplifts the space either side of the chimney breast. These were designed by Charlotte and printed onto thick perspex. The perspex was separated by a few centimetres from the wall, and an LED lighting strip was placed between, in order to light up the panels from behind and add further refinement to the overall design. They fit very precisely from worktop to underside of wall cabinets.

cowparsley etched onto the plexiglass

plexiglass backsplash design


The table and chairs are classic designs by Hans Wegner. The table is soaped oak, which is an under-used finish these days, but is no less hardy than varnish. It is non yellow and soft in appearance. This consideration of material is just whay you would expect from the master craftsman.

hans wegner table and chairs

dark chair detailing and table in soaped oak and grey


More Scandinavian design appears with the Secto floor lamp in black and natural birch wood, designed by finnish architect Seppo Koho.


All in all, the room is a blend of materials, textures and style that hints at what will continue elsewhere in the house.

Light, open, softly spoken but crafty and unique.

victorian terrace: funky lounge and a dj room


walnut alcove shelving and cast concrete fireplace
Yr: 2003+/-

The lounge that was created, presented a warm front that included the brown tan leather sofas and one-off walnut alcove units that flanked the chimney breast. There was also a cvo firevault fire.
The fireplace as part of the one-off aspect that we like to throw into our projects was designed and created by rogue-designs.  It's made from concrete, parts of which were cast in-situ. It appears to float due to the shadow detail that we applied to it.

The walnut floor is a feature to the whole of the ground floor - approximately 96sqm. 

The vintage lighting again, was sourced through a supplier in London. 

The image above the fireplace was from a collage that i made and had blown up onto a foam panel. 


The space known as the DJ room, is situated between the kitchen and the lounge. The room housed the owners record collection. A functioning glitter ball was also attached to the ceiling. A discreet spotlight activated the spinning ball when switched on.  

No speaker cable was visible due in part to it all being housed behind the skirting boards. speaker points were then dotted around for increased flexibility. 

The dj console was created by rogue-designs, especially to house the dj decks with a space under for other electronic equipment. It was sprayed in a gloss lipstick red. As it was a feature to the space it warranted a stand alone quality.



bespoke dj deck









a luxurious bathroom - victorian house



The owners had recently moved into the house and required it to be modernised throughout. 


Many of our customers enjoy the need for the works to be staged, rather than to be carried out all at once. This affords them the ability to assess the scheme and its direction without being bombarded with a great many decisions all at once.  


The starting point of this particular project was to be one of the main bathrooms and culminated in the overhaul of the 25m garden area, completed on the back of a special extension.


1st stage: master bathroom.


palette: > thin strip oak, lemon marble tiles, mirror, flint grey.










This is a great space for relaxing, that's set in the heart of the top floor, between 2 bedrooms. The room doesn't have a window, however it makes up for the lack of natural light by using light and reflection.  There is a spectacular floor-to-ceiling marble wall with
an alcove inset that is lined with the narrow strip oak. This is also lit from above with 2 dedicated dimmable spot lights. The bath is freestanding and is painted on the outside in a light green grey, and the whole thing is sat on two oak cradles. The colours are all complimented by the colours in the natural stone. The lemon marble tiles fitted tightly to each other and the appearance was more monumental rather than 'tiled'. The colour on the walls and the ceiling were painted in a satinwood finish and allowed light to reflect off it for further space and light enhancement.




Bespoke oak also features largely in the floating vanity unit which rogue-designs created to fit into the space. The vanity unit itself has 2 sliding mirrors that give the illusion of more space. It was imperative to create the feeling that the space was light and that it was expansive in nature.  Behind the sink; a mirror and above this, another one-off unit that was over 1.5m in length and had 3 long sliding glass panels. Above this unit another glass panel that hit the ceiling. The illusion was cemented further by being able to see the ceiling spots in the mirrors.







Smallest rooms


The Joy of small rooms !

This was a recently completed room. Although very small it works tremendously well. The whole design was tailored around creating a very modern feel but with a nod to the buildings victorian build. The room now has an updated charm and function that sits well within its context. At just under 90cm wide and at 3metres in length the room was as per its counterpart room above, very tight and awkward with victorian render that was somewhat rough. Formalising this for the 21st century was not without its hitches. prior to our intervention there featured a sink that was set into the wall, which created a large absence when taken out. The pipework that ran under the floor was actually supporting the old flooring at certain points. Yet these were surmountable.

Overall scheme with rich colours clean lines and good function

Dornbracht IMO' tap
The cupboard that hangs above the sink was a 'one-off' with sliding runners
that moves out of the way for access. This allowed a much larger mirror to be had. This also helped to bounce light around the space. The wallpaper is 'Anemone' by Neisha Crossland. The toilet pan is by Antonio Lupi - 'evakuo' and the basin that sits upon a 'one-off', rogue-designs stained oak basin unit with concealed toilet roll holder is  'Orbis'. Its a wonderful shape, a tear drop shape that presents well. The tap is by Dornbracht; 'IMO' that has a pressured lever that is wonderfully smooth to operate. The floor is a dark Oak stained floor on construction ply which was wrapped up and formed part of the toilet back panel. The ceiling pendent light is 'circus' by the Italian brand Foscarini and works very well to provide a subtle yet glowing light through the space.



Antonio Luipi 'evakuo' toilet

wallpaper behind bevelled glass splashback

'one-off' sliding mirror cabinet by rogue-designs
Neisha Crossland Anemone' wallpaper adding warmth



 see also Canal side house wetroom



colourful tiles- a North Oxford house: Living room

We worked in this area along side the kitchen (see north oxford house: kitchen) area.

It is a wonderful room with lovely aspects to all sides; the double doors linking to the kitchen, a beautiful fireplace, huge windows to one wall and double glass doors to the front garden. There are privacy shutters and the light enters the room in really pleasurable way. 

lounge view with duncan grant tiles set into the fireplace

It was very exciting to continue with the themes that we set up in the kitchen and utilise them in a different way. This project was all about a modern take on the arts and crafts movement; taking traditional ideas about handcrafting and applying modern techniques and designs. We attempted to make no single item stand out, but make sure that alll the items within had uniqueness. The flooring from kitchen continued with white oil wax throughout. The application of the oil wax is a very time consuming process that requires a lot of attention and many layers are required over virgin wood. At the heart of the room is the 'Arne' sofa by BB Italia, its almost 3m long and strikingly curved. We didn't want the formality of the kitchen area to impede and direct the shape and function of the lounge and so to break free from the restraints of linear sofas (which tend to inhabit the area along a wall!) we plumped for this sofa with its gentle curves and low profile, so as not to restrict the views outside. The fireplace has vibrant hand-painted Duncan Grant tiles set in - an interesting and quirky contrast of highly traditional grand carrera marble and rustic art and crafts most likely dating from the early '20s and injecting a little bit of Charleston to the house. Around the fireplace - we constructed units that have carved panels for frontage. The images I conceived as small narratives, where nature and industry are intermingled in some way. A bird flys by electrical wires or a tree grows up through a broken, abandoned chair. The units were sprayed green to co-incide with the kitchen colours, both symbolise the power of nature to overcome industrial adversity.

In front of the sofa; a wonderful commissioned piece by Amy Kent. A handmade rug designed around lines and shadows in pavements.




the lefthand unit; 'silver birch'

sparrow about to land (detail)


A fascinating detail, the legacy of the old house were the victorian servant bell pulls, visible immediately next to the Carrera marble fireplace.

Along the line of the cornice we again brought through the Album system of lighting i.e. suspended cables that extend from one side to the other with lighting modules positioned as required.

detail of one of the light module


There was a real emphasis on lighting - whilst the suspended Album lighting was dimmable, floor and table lamps were used to create task and gentler lighting. The lamp that you see in the main image above is the Secto floor lamp by finnish designer Seppo Koho.

Shelving in the shapeof English Walnut (unplaned), still with a sawn appearance and with waney edge was used to mount the electronics. 


A mural in the reverse tonal range was created on the closing full height panels, representing helibores. We painted the mural on the walls behind the shutters, so that when they are open, the effect is somewhat abstract; when the doors are closed, the picture becomes complete.



Above one of the walnut units (left in picture) we framed a marimekko fabric image for the owner. The style slotted in rather well. More marimekko fabric appears on the sofa cushions which we created. The addition of random vintage buttons to the cushions adds extra interest.





















































All in all the scheme has some amazing features that sit well in this natural, artistic environment.




minimal london bathroom

This was a very interesting project that encopassed many different decisions and risks. The existing bathroom was pokey and pretty irredeemable, so we converted a spare bedroom into this airy and spacious family bathroom, and converted the old bathroom into a study area.







The key features to the room were the stand alone shower unit, the large square bath and the very large basin along with the simple and striking fireplace. We wanted to keep everything incredibly pure, minimal and clean, creating s space that despite the monochrome palette and straight lines is not at all harsh, but calming and meditative.











Units above the toilet provide the storage along with the vanity unit. The chimney breast 
allowed us to inject an element of texture into the room, to sit alongside the nibbled sugar cube effect tiling  in the shower. We re-plastered the chimney with the plaster sucking away at the moment it dried, leaving flat platelets behind. This was then painted and the effect is subtle but effective. Swimming pool glass
mosaic tiles were used and applied with a slightly textured effect, and a black tiled alcove in the shower cubicle affords a subtle shelf space.










































The interior of the fireplace was painted black to swallow up the space and the rubber floor was dressed right into it. The driftwoodwood over the fireplace had been languishing in our back garden for near on 4 years after we had hauled it off a beach in the Lake District. It's oak and when we brought it back to life with the aid of a thicknesser it bacame apparent that this was the space in which to use it. It is some kind of industrial beam, full of stains and character and at some point had been part of someone's campfire, leaving beautiful blackened areas. The oak was washed and sealed with oil.



The flooring is 'dalsouple'; natural rubber in a light grey, and seamless, it creates the impression of expansiveness. Sealed, it provides a low maintenance floor that will look good for years, and warmer and kinder than tiles on such a large space. It also creates a seemless feel to the room that some rooms don't  i.e. always having to provide contrast or juxtaposition. Sometimes it's just essential to create and pin  down a design that doesn't challenge and make itself known in the usual ways. 





All in all, the project was an exercise in subltety.

basement living - victorian house

project: living area, kitchen, extension


features: reclaimed antique parquet muhuhu flooring, Silestone worktop, induction hob, wine storage




the kitchen with view to dining room extension (phase 6)


This basement conversion and extension was a huge project, and a fantastic space. A lot of work was carried out to turn what was a dark, and slightly dank basement area into a family space that is extremely habitable and stylish, and given its situation, filled with light. We tackled the project in stages, firstly creating a cosy living and play area in the bay window space at the front along with a central kitchen, and then a pause before the major building project of a light and airy new extension as a dining area, which leads out onto a same level outdoor living space. 



When we began, red 'quarry style' tiles sat on the floor, a dark blue 'county style' kitchen blocked off the far end of the room which has now been opened up to the new extension, replacing a rather leaky conservatory type space. The chimney at the living end had also been blocked up previously and the damp that was inside the chimney was interfering with the skirting. All of this was opened up and the rubble removed. We reclaimed the space in the chimney as a display point with a huge oak lintel, and vented it to keep the chimney aerated. The floor was a different story; all the tiles were removed and fortunately, we did get back to a layer of concrete on top of which was laid a breathable membrane. The floor was then put down on a substrate. After much time fitting and sanding the reclaimed parquet the effect was complete - it appeared as if it had been down for the past 120 years or so. A lot of work and time went into the floor but the results are remarkable.




parquet flooring in herringbone configuration










Choosing something that has been used before, despite the clean up process, still means that you are quite likely to get an amount of character running through the floor which can be lacking in pristine wooden floors. we also loved the 'eco' quality of a reclaimed floor, and its history was in keeping with the character of the house. The parquet block floor started life as we knew it in individual blanks bundled into yard squares, and stored in a warehouse in Bath (Walcott reclamation) who deal with architectural antiques. In its previous incarnation it was a school gym floor. It is a wonderful material - dense and fragrant and full of character. Every individual block was processed to be the right depth, this involved stripping off the tar from the bottom using an electric planer. The resulting floor shows incredible personality.












We specified and designed a German made kitchen which was supplied by a local company. We wanted all the surfaces to reflect as much light as possible, and chose a high gloss finish in a beautifully light olive green.  A breakfast bar was added to the scheme which doubled as a useful preparation area and keeps the space sociable.  The wrap around top is Silestone, a quartz based composite stone which has anti-bacterial properties and is incredibly hardwearing and anti corrosion resistant.   Within the L shaped configuration above a miele inset induction hob was set. The owners approached induction cooking after much discussion with some trepidation, but have cherished it ever since. The hob is set into its the top and colour matched intumescent mastik was used to seal it into place. Behind the miele induction hob a hardened glass splashback was fitted, and flat plate sockets (low profile) in stainless steel sit neatly against glass tiles and add further detail.















The wine carrier set into the second chimney stack neatly fills a problem space or 'hole' that the owner wanted us to address. The inventive storage is a modification of a design from another recent project where we reclaimed a disused dumb waiter to house the owners wine collection. The oak frame makes the item stand alone and announce its presence.


Above the undermount sink, the space was kept incredibly simple and uncluttered; a couple of solid oak shelves run the width of the recess. These have inset uplighters in them that cast a light up through the glassware that the owner is collecting. Glass brick shaped tiles behind the stainless steel tap act as the splashback and also help to reflect some light. The franke tap is quite cool too, as it also has a built in water filter.








During the kitchen conversion what was then the back wall was knocked out and steels were put in to accommodate what would become an extension in phase 6. Planning for the extension didn't present too much difficulty, but consideration was applied to where the flooring would end and how it could follow on at exactly the same height. We were also conscious of where the kitchen units would end and how they would interact with the new space. We decided to dress the flooring right up to a false wall that was created for the interim period (on the back of the house) so the extension would be seamless. see Victorian house: extension.


 
We used the pale olive and lichen colour scheme as a modern twist on the classic 'farrow and ball' kind of lichen, the intension was to keep the space light with colours that follow through from the rest of the house, and are classic and timeless palette. 


Grandpont house> bedroom and on-suite

Grandpont house: loft conversion.
Yr:2007

It is a loft space (bedroom) with an on-suite bathroom with a footprint of 30sqm approximately, incl the bathroom.  There was a very considered and limited palette in this scheme. The muted earth tones were all cleverly balanced. Loft rooms can be difficult in their character; we wanted this one to feel warm and grown-up, a sanctuary.

It's an elegant room, very clean and sharp with a very clear direction.


Two walls were papered, one on the wall as you approach the top of the staircase and the one behind the bed. Both walls run in different directions to each other and so acted particularly well to ease you into the room without being too full on.

The pattern that you see on the walls is by Neisha Crosland and it gives the room a loose light feel whilst playing with all the tones employed elsewhere in the room. An oak framed alcove in the wall above the bed provides extra storage, and a neat interest.

The radiators are by bisque. Its a low level, traditional style with ribbed chambers, in anthracite. These are high performing radiators and very useful at warming a room quickly and holding the temperature. The colour of the radiator can be changed in order to further enhance and stay within the designers range of tone and hue. 

















We designed and had made, a very simple, elegant and one-off, oak and glass rail to the top of the staircase.  An oak  frame surrounds 10mm toughened glass. The storage units that are pictured, fitted in the eaves and flanked the escape velux.  


The conversion of a loft space is often at odds with storage needs and this generally tends to be forgotten in the process of creating a useable space. In a lot of our designs there is a real emphasis on clever storage where ever possible. 


Off the bedroom is the on-suite which is a pleasure. Glass tiles wrap around all 4 walls and encase the bathroom in reflected light.
The effect is further enhanced by the mirror and the glass shower screen.  


As per the bannister, the door is of oak and the linear detailing is seen in various other items around the rooms.




































































The shower base was a 1200mm  x 800mm composite. The glass toughened and bespoke. It is always a good idea when fitting a bathroom in the loft area to over structure the support for the facilities i.e. the floor joists and make sure there are provisions for the potential cleaning of the traps etc. 


Extraction in the bathroom was ducted through the roof space whilst the building conversion was taking place. An icon bathroom fan with PIR and a humidity sensor was used. These are used to great effect in spaces like these where you can control the moisture content of the room. The console is also very elegant and powerful.












Fittings are simple and elegant, minimal but not flashy. All in all, sanctuary, and a little jewel at the top of the house.

shelving and storage

This is a small selection of the shelving that was completed recently in an ancient barn. Originally the first unit below had a fixed back, but then it was decided that we could use glass as a partition and create the mirror of the shelves on the reverse. This was quite tricky but in the end the result was an excellent room divider, double depth shelving, light coming through from both sides during the day, and illuminable at night.
the second set of photos show built in storage for a wine cellar/ utility room. 


First stage completed.

The unit is completed when painted white and becomes reflective and bright.

The unit is perfectly nested between the two structural oak uprights.


In another room in the house, wardrobe space was created with the routed lines relating to the style of the interior doors.

A view of the open shelving


A wine storage perfectly sited in an alcove.
The unit with features an integrated led strip lights that run through the tops of each cell.