Madeleine Ike and Jonty Hallett are Studio Hallett Ike, the owners and creators of an exquisitely crafted home in North London; Endymion Road. Christian talked to them about the process of designing and building a home for themselves, their personal journey to this point and their plans for the future…
Tell me a little about what the flat was like when you bought it?
Our immediate impression of Endymion Road was that it had potential. Many original Victorian features had been retained, and the proportions and scale of the space felt far grander than we were expecting. We had seen many soul-less flats without any love or care going into preserving the architecture of the building itself, this one immediately struck a chord. The garden too was a huge benefit. However the entire flat needed a lot of love and care. It had accumulated years of grime, shoddy repair jobs and ‘unique’ improvisations.
Was it immediately apparent as to what you would do to enhance the existing space, and if not how did you come to the design we see today?
We did not want to compromise on the proportions of the existing rooms, therefore the work to these areas was mainly cosmetic, and new construction was largely additional. A key driver for us was to create an extra bedroom that would allow us to be far more flexible with how we use the spaces. We also love hosting friends and family, so creating a sociable kitchen and dining space was important.
The look and feel of the space was always to be minimal and classic, with the use of natural materials where possible. We wanted to avoid gimmicks or ‘on trend’ design, it needed to feel fluid and unforced.
What were the major challenges?
For us, budget was a challenge. As architects our aspirations for the spaces often far outweigh the budget, so knowing when to pull back were the hardest challenges.
What’s the best bit of advice we’ve been given? To believe in your own convictions to push boundaries, but also know when to practice self-restraint.
Let’s talk palette and materials…talk me through what you have used in this project, and why?
The palette is calm; neutral and classic. Timber is consistent through the space. We sanded back the original floorboards to reveal the grain. Stained Douglas Fir is a key material used as the window surrounds, bench seating, headboard and kitchen joinery. It has a beautiful pink hue that becomes more intense during the evening sunlight. The cladding is charred English Larch, which we had charred on site by hand. Doing this, rather than painting or staining, allows the texture and grain of the larch to feel very present, but also to age and patina over time. The colour constantly changes depending on the weather and time of year; during the winter months it has silvery hues, but evolves to appear warmer in the summer.
Other key materials are the terrazzo, present in both the kitchen and bathroom. Terrazzo creates a seamless quality and uniformity. It is clean, simple and timeless. Using marble or any stone with strong veining would be too much in this flat, we wanted the spaces to feel relaxed and calm, rather than shouty.
We also designed and had made several pieces of furniture to enhance the overall atmosphere of the spaces. These are mostly constructed from black steel that again patinas over time with each use, to generate a completely unique finish.
Do you have a signature style? Are there certain projects that interest you more than others, or where you feel your skills as architects are best suited?
We tend not to design to a certain style, as generally pick up on the surrounding context of any existing architecture. However, we try to continually design in a classical, timeless and minimal way. Too much fuss, or ‘fashionable’ styles, tend to tire quickly and can soon feel heavy-handed.
We see our design as fully encompassing of the architecture, interior design and furniture design cohesively, all inherently and intimately connected. We like to work with end user clients, to make each space completely bespoke to them.
Tell me about some of your other projects – completed or in the planning phase?
As a new practice we have several projects in early design stages. These range from private residential extensions and refurbishments and new builds, to a multi-unit housing development in West London.
What is next for you guys?
We’re looking for a new project for our next home. We are also focussed on growing the practice and gaining more interesting projects.
Find an architect whose work appeals to you. Not all architects can achieve the same level or design and quality, and do not underestimate the value a good architect can add. Be open to design suggestions and influence, rather than approaching a project with a final outcome in mind. Enjoy the process!
And finally, the most important questions…
What gives you the most joy about your job?
The process of taking an idea and allowing it to grow and refine until it becomes a tangible space that impacts on how someone feels and experiences that space every day. Design is a process, and when it has developed to work seamlessly, the spatial experience is never quite the same twice.