In March 2021, Christina and Harry Stoakes snapped up this double-fronted Edwardian house in the leafy location of Muswell Hill in London. KBB journo Charlottle Luxford chats to Melissa White Architects to find out how the project came together…
With three boys, Christina and Harry wanted to create a stylish family home to raise their children and work from during the next stage of their lives. Their plans were ambitious. The house needed gutting and reconfiguring to meet their needs. Plus, they planned to add a loft and ground-floor rear extension, changing it from a four-bedroom property with two bathrooms into a five-bed with three bathrooms and a cloakroom.
The project manager, who worked closely with the couple throughout the renovation, introduced them to architect Melissa White. “Bringing together old and new was an important part of the design concept,” says Melissa.
The rear extension
Melissa planned to clad the rear extension in a bold charcoal brick. It is inspired by the couple’s favourite restaurant – The Lighterman in King’s Cross. However, it was met with strong opposition from neighbours. So, Melissa had to temper the design and instead opted for a pale brick with warm tones.
The rear extension is the family hub, with an open-plan kitchen, dining and living space that features clerestory windows. “The couple love to entertain, but we didn’t want a large, sprawling kitchen consumed by storage,” explains Melissa.
The kitchen design
“We created a layout that allowed for Christina’s dream Devol kitchen to be the focal point but big enough for everyone to gather in, with a secondary kitchen and larder tucked away. This way, the bulk of the storage was hidden, with an extra sink, fridge-freezer and workspace, keeping the mess at the back and entertaining space at the front,” says Melissa.
The rest of the open-plan space is equally serene and well thought out, with soft earthy tones of green, brown and taupe and a carefully edited palette of brick, lime-washed oak, marble and brass referencing the original traditional materials.
Click here for our top tips on creating a cosy open-plan kitchen
The light-filled, brick-clad dining space is refreshingly contemporary, with a sleek oak window seat offering a nook for reading. Just off the dining area, you can reach a child-friendly snug and games room through a set of tall, steel-framed glass doors.
“Open-plan living is really successful with young, active families – everyone can come together, with a variety of activities. But the backbone to such a design is creating smaller spaces either within or adjacent to the open-plan area to allow family members to break away for peace and contemplation. In this way, a home can easily grow with the family.”
The main bedroom and ensuite
Like the sitting room, the master loft suite sits separate from the kids’ middle floor via a door, creating a tranquil, adult retreat exclusively for Christina and Harry.
In the main bedroom, walk-through wardrobes utilise the eaves space, with a bright spa-style ensuite featuring textured cream tiles and brushed brass accents. “One of my favourite spots is the master suite,” reveals Christina. “You walk up past the beautiful picture window on the staircase, with its incredible views out on to Alexandra Palace, and I adore our Forest green Kast concrete basin and the walk-in shower under the large skylight.”
How to use concrete and microcement in your kitchen and bathroom: click here
The final design
Now complete, the kitchen is a calm and serene retreat from the bedlam of day-to-day life, with its clever blend of original features, contemporary interventions and pragmatic design, which will enable the family to evolve as the children grow up. “We love spending time at home and having friends and family over is so easy and fun. Hosting is now a breeze,” enthuses Christina.
“We wanted our kitchen extension to be a truly inside-outside space and it really is. We only have our sliding doors shut on the coldest of days and we are all in and out of the garden as though it is another room. The house has really changed the way we live.”