Sunday, 8 July 2012

A nose inside a quirky
London canal home

If you've ever passed through Camden and seen these crazy metal buildings lining the Grand Union Canal, that look like a cross between ships and storage containers, and wondered what goes on behind closed doors... now you can find out.

I worked for a while in the area and wandered past them twice a day, intrigued as to what they were about. They kind of look space-age ugly and just so different to any other domestic architecture around that I couldn't begin to image the interiors. So when I spotted that one was for sale via The Modern House, my curiosity was finally sated...

I had no idea this row of three-bedroom, three-storey townhouses (yes, really) was designed – in 1988 – by Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, the architect behind Waterloo International station and the Eden Project. But, looking at them, it kind of makes sense. 

Inside, the house is centered around a double-height living area (left in the image above) which has a glazed ceiling and opens onto a balcony over the canal.

I'm a big fan of a modern, light-filled home, and there's lots I love about these places. But personally I think I'd want to give the whole thing a bit of a roughed up edge on the furniture and decor front: I love the plants everywhere, but the furniture is so perfect that it matches rather than contrasts interestingly with the pristine, boxy 1980s aesthetic. I prefer a good clash.

So if I lived there (that's the point of estate agent's pictures, after all – right?) I'd go for a big, battered wooden dining table and some junk-shop scuffed chairs.



The sofas could do with some cushions, at least – it's all quite masculine.


I love the split level thing, and the open-plan mezzanine level – so lovely over the living area for a friendly space. But those curved railings are very 80s and in not a good way, I think. But maybe we're poised for a revival of such things. Either way, floor and radiators are spectacular.

What do you think of this unusual design? Could you live in it – and if so, what, if anything, would you change...?


...not the roof terrace (though the scale of plants inside the house would also look great out here). 



I do love a solid wood door with a porthole. For some reason this really reminds me of the stunning flats in the Barbican, inside one of which I misspent much of my youth as a teenage best friend's parents owned one, long before they'd become fashionable.




Love those windows. You could do so much to this room to give it more character...




The half glass staircase ties into the exterior of the building. Not for everyone, but interesting.

I quite like these crazy black bachelor-pad tiles. I couldn't live with that character-free wood or the curve of the shower cubicle or the designer wash basin though... When a building is so designer-y designed, I think fittings work well hanging loose a little.

Shopping ideas:

While I'm dreaming of things I can't afford (the house is on the market for £925,000) I'd also get some striking lighting (top left, Futagami lamp from Neest, 320 Euros) going on but not too overtly designy; and something to soften up the 1980s edges, like a shopping trolley dash at Rockett St George (bottom three images). A bit of House Doctor DK scuffed industrial (like their Side Table, top right, £396 from Bodie & Fou) would also work a treat. 

What would you do?

See the full house details at The Modern House.

1 comment:

  1. It's beautiful but yes, very masculine. I'd take a lot of the furniture OUT and have lots of plants and books instead. And a lot of colourful cushions. But lovely, yes.

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