The dilapidated Victorian home that’s now ‘indestructible’ | Life and elegance


Flora Bathurst is surveying her again backyard with dismay: scattered on the garden are a shiny pink robotic, a Nerf gun, a toy trolley and a big plastic money register. “I have tried to do my best to keep it under control,” she says. “But there is an inevitability to small people’s stuff.” Bathurst has lived along with her husband and 2 younger kids on this terraced home in north-west London for simply 2 and a 1/2 years, and already she feels the place is “silting up”.

To the outsider, Bathurst’s house is an beautiful assemblage of design classics set towards a thought-about collection of reclaimed supplies, however at coronary heart – each actually and figuratively – it’s a hard-working household residence. Bathurst, who’s a director of pictures (and Elle Decoration alumnus), labored with the architect Anthi Grapsa to beat and corral the toys. The resolution is twofold: a hall of cabinets and a good-looking utility room. “I had to fight my husband, Andrew, for the utility room,” says Bathurst. “But knowing how much time I would end up in there doing washing. I wanted a proper space for that.”

The four-bedroom, mid-Victorian property was in a dilapidated state when Bathurst obtained the keys. “It was like a dog that had been really badly beaten,” she remembers, “but I wasn’t going to take on anything that couldn’t be completely done over.” At 1 level, Bathurst was standing in the lounge trying on the roof. “Eventually, the roof, the back and the side all had to come off. We were truly left with a shell.” Undaunted, she found the ability of rolled metal joists and sliding pocket doorways and, after 10 months’ planning and a 10-month construct, a brand new floorplan emerged.

flora bathurst kitchen

The kitchen options reclaimed iroko tops and laminated birch-ply cabinets. Photograph: Ben Anders for the Observer

The typical Victorian construction was reconfigured. Now, on getting into the entrance door, a 2m-wide sliding door takes you into the dwelling house and adjoining workplace. Along the right-hand aspect of the lounge, the as soon as gloomy hall and staircase have been boxed in, creating an unlimited run of built-in storage that conceals “untold amounts of crap”. There’s additionally a downstairs lavatory, the partitions lined in Fornasetti wallpaper (a perk from her Elle Deco days).

Velvet cushions around the walnut dining table.

Velvet cushions across the walnut eating desk, which was made by her sister Bella, ‘and given about 20 coats of varnish’. Photograph: Ben Anders for the Observer

Beyond the workplace house, one other sliding door to the left results in a stupendous utility room clad in reclaimed Welsh slate. Straight forward is the open-plan kitchen and eating room, which will be shut off from the remainder of the home by one other pocket door. (“Useful if you’re having a late one with friends.”) On the primary flooring are 3 bedrooms, whereas the Farrow & Ball Inchyra blue main bedroom – with an adjoining iroko and marble ensuite toilet – was constructed into the eaves.

Having reinvented the floorplan and rebuilt the framework of the home, Bathurst drew on the creativity of the broader Bathurst household for the interiors. (Her late mom was an inside designer, her elder sister, Bella, is an writer, photographer and furnishings maker, and her center sister, Lucy, creates bespoke textiles.) Her personal skilled expertise additionally guided the method. As pictures director for Elle Deco, she spent her days enhancing photos of beautiful properties. “What looked like me working hard was actually me doing research for my own house,” she says, wryly. “I was endlessly inspired by those houses and able to pinpoint what I liked and what I didn’t like.”

Flora Bathurst blue bedroom

The Farrow & Ball Inchyra blue main bedroom within the eaves. Photograph: Ben Anders for the Observer

Pinterest turned a vital useful resource for Bathurst, who gathered a whole lot of photos, organising them by room. “You’ll notice that you keep referring back to the same one or two images – that becomes your edit,” she says. “Eventually, you’ll find something that is very applicable to yourself.”

For Bathurst, particular materials mixtures started to emerge, corresponding to slate with brass, and iroko with concrete. All alongside, the temporary was to be “bullet proof”. The reclaimed pitch-pine floorboards that run all through the bottom flooring have been handled with cleaning soap and lye, and coated in an impenetrable layer of matt varnish. Likewise, the reclaimed iroko tops within the kitchen and utility room are indestructible. The laminated birch-ply cabinets within the kitchen are wipe-downable, as is the black walnut eating desk, which was made by her sister Bella, “and given about 20 coats of varnish”.

Saarinen table and Tulip chair

The round classic Saarinen desk was a present from Flora’s sisters, whereas the matching Tulip chair got here from her mom. Photograph: Ben Anders for the Observer

The cushion covers that prime the benches within the eating space have been designed by Flora and her sister Lucy. The sample represents the contours of the hills in Scotland the place the sisters grew up. Since “small people don’t understand the concept of napkins until they are at least past six”, the cushion covers are detachable and washable.

Layered towards this backdrop is Bathurst’s assortment of black and white pictures, which she has constructed up over time. Above the hearth is a picture from Joseph Szabo’s Teenage collection – a housewarming current to herself. “I’ve a Terry O’Neill of Pete and Dud that I’m very keen on, a Todd Hido, a Matt Black… And my mum was very beneficiant and gave me a few photos from the Atlas gallery. She had a fairly good concept about that form of factor.”

As for furnishings, the one new objects in the home are the beds; all the pieces else has been “resurrected”. The round classic Saarinen desk was a present from her sisters, whereas the matching Tulip chair got here from her mom. The sheepskin rug in the lounge was an eBay discover, and each of the sofas are heirlooms which were reupholstered.

“I’m not a fan of the throwaway culture,” says Bathurst. “And I don’t mind if things are a bit baggy around the edges. You buy something, you wear the shit out of it, you patch it up, and wear the shit out of it again.”

It’s a no-nonsense maxim that makes dwelling with a mix of design classics and small individuals doable.

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