‘There is so much mental clutter in everyone’s lives at the moment that people want their home to be calm. A space where you can dump all of that stuff and relax,’ explains Jonty Hallett, tapping into the rise in the appeal of pared-back interiors.
When he and his partner, Madeleine Ike – both architects and the masterminds behind Studio Hallett Ike – began working up plans for the extension of their own apartment in a Victorian townhouse in north London, the focus, fittingly, was on creating a clean, clear aesthetic.
The plan was to add a second bedroom to the property, but by making as few structural interventions as possible. A box extension to the rear now houses the extra room and a sociable dining space, with a view to the newly updated garden (now an exotic inner-city jungle of evergreen ferns) that can be seen as soon as you open the front door.
Budget was an important consideration, too, but not one that hampered creativity. ‘There were only so many things we could do, but that didn’t mean that those things couldn’t be really good,’ explains Jonty. ‘We spent a lot of time thinking about how we could make small changes and carry them all the way through to make the project feel harmonious.’
That clarity of vision applied to the couple’s material choices. Externally, the extension is clad in larch that they charred on site, lending it an imperfect, handcrafted quality. Inside, Douglas fir plywood has been used to create much of the bespoke furniture and fittings that form this home’s design language.
‘The wood has a lot of pink in it, so when the evening sunlight hits it, especially during the summer months, that intensity of colour increases,’ says Madeleine.
The result is an enveloping glow that their cat Luna loves to lounge in when she’s not cosily tucked away in her own private getaway, carved into the custom-made dining room bench.
In the living room, that natural light is enhanced by walls coated in ‘Linen’-coloured ‘Kabric’ by Detale CPH. Unlike flat paint, it offers a subtle texture that captures the movement of light and shade. Here, original floorboards have been stripped and treated to seamlessly link with the new engineered oak floors of the extension.
Where the furniture hasn’t been created especially by Jonty and Madeleine, the defining characteristic is Scandinavian simplicity. ‘As architects, we are really into our Danish furniture,’ says Jonty, ‘but the stuff we’ve got, although beautiful, is at the more affordable end of that spectrum.’ The daybed in the living room, for example, is a limited-edition Ikea piece by Virgil Abloh.
As with everything else in this home, the edit is all-important. ‘It’s minimalist,’ accepts Jonty, ‘but not a sanitised take on minimalism. It’s comfortable, warm and welcoming.’
‘I just feel the whole place is like a sanctuary,’ adds Madeleine. The perfect salve for the past year. studiohallettike.co.uk
This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration June 2021
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