Salmon Lane - London:  Houses by Rural Office for Architecture

A Hidden London Townhouse Gem

Alissa Ugolini—homify UK Alissa Ugolini—homify UK

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Residents of London are no stranger to this problem: all houses, due to the great fire, have quite a similar exterior appearance. At times, if unfamiliar with the area, it can be quite a task to stay oriented. The structure of these narrow townhouses served an important purpose in terms of meeting societal demands.

Brick is the favoured material for the façades, which were man-made and fired from clay. The heyday of this architecture was between 1450 and 1650 as in 1666, after The Great Fire, only stone and brick buildings were to be built. Despite being incredibly durable, bricks as a building material were also readily available and affordable.

They say appearances are deceiving and that we should never judge a book by its cover. This statement is very true in this instance because when this traditional brown brick London townhouse is opened up to us, it reveals a bold and modern interior!

Take a look around and be surprised…

Unassuming exterior façade

This petite home is located on a quiet street, on a corner block. The rounded exterior is presented in the traditional English style, blending seamlessly into the surrounding streetscape. The house next door is the same shape and style, continuing down the street in perfect unison. 

The windows and doors have been painted a pleasant shade of slate grey, which complements the yellow-brown bricks. The studio behind the interior layout, Rural Office For Architecture, have paid homage to the British roots of the house, all while encompassing an elegant internal twist. 

The concept

To begin, we find ourselves in the open plan kitchen and living area. From this view, it's immediately possible to realise the footprint of the home. Despite the narrow width, the designers have made the most of the available space to create a room that is light-filled, open and airy. 

In effect, the space has been exploited optically to reveal a greater volume of space than we perceive. Accordingly, overlapping a floor plan to include two integrated rooms is a great way to maximise the available square feet. To obtain a uniform appearance, the same material finish has been retained throughout the entire home design to tell a story and create consistency between rooms. 

Furniture at the heart of things

The furniture has been coordinated to match the décor, to great effect. Here, you can see how the rich chocolate brown timber contrasts perfectly against the more pale wood. Creating an almost top-deck like appearance, this delectable fusion of colours creates a design that is timeless and classic, even though the furniture is largely modern in its design.

To cater for the illumination needs in the area, artificial spotlighting has been embedded into the ceiling, highlighting different spaces selectively. An almost hidden narrow staircase leads us up to the floor above, tucked away behind a partition wall.


At the rear of the house there is a mysterious courtyard which, of course, would be like a private urban oasis in the summer months. The property is protected by a wall that promises privacy and shields the occupants from the noise of the street. The full floor-to-ceiling doors completely open up the inside space to the garden, creating a wonderful juxtaposition between the two areas. 

The doors also introduce two more material finishes; steel and glass. At the time these buildings were constructed, glass was not available in the scale or format that we find it in today. To combat this, it was manufactured in smaller panes, which is why it is very common to find conservatory style doors and windows, like the one pictured.

Little would you know, these windows are in fact brand new. Designed to match other homes of the same period, the style is reminiscent of the of Art Nouveau era and today, whether preserved or a new addition, is a treasured and cherished feature in many historic homes. 

Hidden treasures

This intriguing nook is a banquette sofa in the sitting room. Cleverly, it has been created in the same shape and formation as the rest of the house. The dark brown veneer furniture dominates the space, with accents of white competing for attention. 

Highlights are set by the lighter contours of the wood, which not only adds additional details, but contrast too. The banquette is enclosed by three sides walls, creating a protected and encased environment. In order to stay true to the colour scheme, yet add texture and a little cosiness, elements such as the lambskin give warmth to the room. This feature doesn't downplay the modern appeal at all. In fact, it creates a serene and inviting space for the owners.

The modern study

For those who like to work at full concentration, designing a study that is strict and linear in design is always a great place to start. Every element you see here has its designated space, therefore meaning you will never have to waste time looking for misplaced items or pieces of paper stashed away at the back of drawers and cupboards. 

Adequate illumination is also essential, and has been catered for by the wall-mounted lights that vertically provide light to the desk. Every factor has been considered in this design so you can be sure that your filing will be on point for years to come.

Moving up…

Last but definitely not least, we are able to take a peek at the first floor. The colour scheme is continued even into this level, maintaining the continuity we saw in the lower floor. 

To create a really cosy effect, the timber panels on the walls are painted white, bending wonderfully with the curve of the walls and envelope of the house. The pictured corridor joins a bathroom, separated by sliding doors from the hallway. By using this feature, no space is lost by the mechanism of a traditional casement door.

We hope you have enjoyed the tour inside this London townhouse, and can take away some very important pointers on space saving and material finishes!

To explore another wonderful London residence, don't miss: The Tiny Yet Mighty Family Home.

Did you love the cute rear courtyard?
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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