This London home’s story began all the way across the world in Laurel Canyon, high in LA’s Hollywood Hills. It’s here that music producer Ben Garrett was working on singer and songwriter Rae Morris’s debut album, Unguarded. The couple fell not just for each other, but for the feel-good, 1970s-infused vibe of the place.
It was that atmosphere that they were looking to recreate when, in 2018, they began work on their 1970s two-bedroom terrace house and recording studio in Primrose Hill. To help them achieve the laid-back look, Ben and Rae approached architect and interior design firm Studio Hagen Hall.
It was owner Louis Hagen Hall’s renovation of his own home, for sale at the time, that attracted them. His love of mid-century American architect John Lautner’s work and the design principles of Charles and Ray Eames was evident in his approach.
‘The Eameses were a couple, living together and working together. So are Rae and Ben,’ says Louis, who saw parallels between the creative partnerships.
Turning their dream of open-plan LA living into reality, however, was never going to be an easy task. ‘We ended up having to do two strip outs,’ explains Louis. One was needed just to get an idea of what was going on inside – having haphazardly been transformed into bedsits, the house’s internal structure was perplexing. The second left Louis a blank slate, onto which he could add some modern updates on classic 1970s design details.
There’s the conversation platform – an elevated, contemporary take on the iconic conversation pits of the era, with storage added beneath each of the built-in seats – and the colour palette, featuring blocks of burnt orange and yellow. But just as important are the materials used throughout. Smoked glass mirrors act as a means to highlight the architraves, seeming to stretch the size of this 150 square-metre space, while cork, brass and elm – all staples of mid-century design – feature heavily.
‘We didn’t want to turn the house into a pastiche, though,’ points out Louis. Instead, he has taken the best elements of the 70s and given them a sleek reimagining. The bespoke kitchen epitomises this style. It was crafted by joiner Tim Gaudin, with whom Louis will soon be launching new kitchen brand Bysse.
To this same end, original furniture from the era – notably ‘Cesca’ chairs by Marcel Breuer and a ‘Tulip’ table by Eero Saarinen for Knoll – are placed beside custom-made pieces by Studio Hagen Hall. The effect is one of effortless cool.
A party house where you never know who may be making music in the sound-proofed downstairs studio, this home blends the warm, welcoming aesthetic of LA with a sprinkling of London magic.
‘I’d be there and Keane or Snow Patrol would walk in. Lily Allen stopped by once,’ recalls Louis, who now counts Ben and Rae as friends as well as clients. ‘I basically built them my dream house,’ he admits. ‘It’s a sign of a fun job.’ studiohagenhall.com