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homify 360°: Total house refurbishment, Primrose Hill

Alissa Ugolini—homify UK Alissa Ugolini—homify UK
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Located on the northern side of Regent's Park, Primrose Hill is one of London's most affluent addresses. From the top of Primrose Hill, residents and visitors to the park have an absolutely breathtaking view over central London. The area consists of many Victorian terraced homes, and has long since been a coveted piece of land due to its proximity to the centre of London and belt of outer suburbs. Today on homify, the 3-bedroom terraced home we have been given the privilege to tour through, was built in the 1960s, and rented out for five years while the family of the clients lived overseas. To commemorate their return, AR Architecture were commissioned to completely refurbish the home, as well as extend the property to make room for the family of five. The brief included internal aesthetic and layout changes, with alterations completed to every room in the house. The new plan boasts a living room, kitchen, dining area, five bedrooms, two bathrooms, a guest bathroom, and roof garden with adjoining kitchenette.

The extension was awarded to the existing garage of the property, converting it into a habitable space. Some elements of the exterior, as well as all the inner working of the home such as the staircase, windows, doors (external and internal), fixtures and fittings were to be replaced. In a two year time frame, and for £390,000, this outstanding renovation was completed. AR Architecture, in collaboration with interior designers Pascoe Interiors and garden designers Coolgardens, have created a stunning home for this growing young family. Take a look…

An unassuming exterior

The exterior envelope doesn't give away much about the modern treasures that will soon be found inside. Much like unwrapping a present, the outside shell is only the start of a process that will unveil a series of interesting architectural qualities. The clients requested that the streetscape be maintained, and the original design be left largely intact. And as you can see, the home continues to represent the period in which it was built, which is conversely, a very important era in architecture and design.

Internal changes

The section drawing reveals a lot about the building, and we think it is essential to view this in order to understand the dialogue between the various internal spaces. The staircase is an important connecting feature between the floors, not only in terms of functionality, but visually, too. From this drawing, you can see the relationship between the internal and external spaces, with pockets of greenery and outdoor living afforded to both the second and third floors of the home. The openness provided by the central staircase acts also as a light well, bringing solar gains and an additional natural light source to areas which have no windows or external views.


From here, the sectional drawings are translated into photographs, and you can begin to make sense of the rooms (if you couldn't above). Located on the ground floor, the dining area is an absolute pleasure to be in, even when you are not eating. The mismatched furniture, which hails chairs from a variety of different eras, has a fresh and eclectic vibe and matches nicely with the pale timber floorboards and window frames. It is also quite fitting, given that the original property was built in the 1960s, to see chairs designed in the modernist period of the same generation. 

Living pleasures

Next to the dining room, you will find a small, but cosy living area. The architects have cleverly installed an internal window, ensuring that the room will be anything but dark and gloomy. The light which floods the kitchen transcends into this room also, as does the light from the dining room. With a slightly enclosed feeling, provided by the shape of the walls, the direction of the couches draws the eye inward. It also helps to separate the dining room from the living area and provides a touch of intimacy to a space that we like to relax in.


View from the kitchen:  Kitchen by AR Architecture
AR Architecture

View from the kitchen

AR Architecture

Going up a level, we are now able to see the kitchen and the view from the other side of the internal window. Located at floor height instead of ceiling height in this instance, we are able to peek through to both the living and dining rooms. It's interesting because if there are guests present, and the occupants are in the kitchen cooking, they do not feel totally secluded and sectioned off from one another. Instead of open plan kitchen and living areas that are all too common nowadays, this notion has been respected and translated in another contemporary manner.

Kitchen capers

It's evident that a quasi-retro theme has been employed throughout the home, as even here, we find evidence of chairs and features that are characteristic of the 60s. In particular, the colour palette, which is muted at large, has been allowed a pop of colour through the bright red light fittings. The colours in this space are totally complementary—the grey, white and red, in conjunction with the pale timber on both the floors and kitchen island, are in total harmony and illuminated by the flow of natural light from the window. The position of the island and work bench retains the horizontal nature of the space, and provides an additional area for quick meals and many pleasurable cooking sessions.

Stairway to heaven

The marvellous origami-like staircase can be seen here in full. In keeping with the theme of openness and light, the balustrades are translucent and the structure is as stripped back and skeletal as possible. This is of course, no coincidence, as a conscious effort was made by the designers to ensure as much light as possible could penetrate all levels of the house. Even still, this single feature which links every level, doesn't detract for a moment from the clarity and brightness provided by the window at the top of the stairs. All in all, a space that is both functional and outstandingly beautiful—a difficult feat to master. 

Space saving heroes

Bedroom and Play Room:  Bedroom by AR Architecture
AR Architecture

Bedroom and Play Room

AR Architecture

This clever space is both a playroom and bedroom, and can be merged to form two rooms if need be. As city life, especially in London, is getting smaller and smaller, it is important to maximise every inch of available space. The accordion-style timber doors can be folded back, or close off the space depending on the needs of the occupants. Shelving has been provided at high level, meaning the room is free of obstacles if young children are playing, and also allows furniture and other elements to be placed against the wall and out of the way.

A pocket of green

The first pocket of greenery can be found on the second floor, and acts not only as a wonderful natural feature, but also provides insulating and environmental benefits to the home. The benefits of green roofs have been documented, and in this instance, not only does it provide a necessary element of contact with nature to the occupants, but it also offers thermal benefits to the indoors. The selection of plants were selected to match a busy modern life, and include succulent varieties that are low maintenance and require little watering.

Terrace of dreams

Roof Terrace:  Roof terrace by AR Architecture
AR Architecture

Roof Terrace

AR Architecture

Lastly, but definitely not least, we finish on top, with a view of the rooftop terrace. With adjoining kitchenette, the occupants have a stunning view over the city, as well as a fabulous area to entertain and relax. What was once a utility area, has now been given a far more practical and pleasing use, with the often unsightly cables and tanks hidden away behind a series of white panels. You can just imagine on those balmy summer nights spending the evening either with friends or in solitude, under the stars.

We hope you have enjoyed touring through this stunning family home in Primrose Hill. If you would like to see more breathtaking renovation and refurbishment projects around London, take a look at the following ideabooks:

Timber fin house extension, East London

Fully refurbished house in Battersea

Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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