Towards the end of 2014, Claydon Reeves was presented with the opportunity to convert a property in Kensington, London into a beautiful residential property. The brief was to transform the original two-storey building formerly used as an automotive service garage on the ground floor with basic residential living space on the first floor into a family home. With a yacht design mindset, clever lighting and space saving solutions have resulted in a stunning four-storey house that maximises every inch of space in an ever-growing city.
In order to accommodate some of the features desired by the client, the first challenge for the team was how to obtain more space. This is not an easy task as any central Londoner will attest to. Adding to the existing structure was not permissible, leaving the only option of digging down to achieve the additional space. The extra levels opened up more possibilities for living space, entertainment and storage while offering more functionality.
The sub basement is home to the engine room of the house where all hotel requirements are located as well as the systems for the most significant feature — a swimming pool. Portholes in the pool wall allow natural blue light to penetrate into the adjoining room which doubles as a cinema and a lounge/utility space.
A level up and the full scale of the pool is revealed. Fitted with counter swim jets and adjustable floor, it meets the demands of a growing family from workouts to playtime. When the pool isn't in use the Esthec finished floor can be raised, pushing water around the edges of the platform as it rises, filling the void created behind with the water. It allows the owner to set the depth to any level or it can be fully raised to be flush with the rest of the basement floor. In doing so, this valuable space can be used as a playground, gym or dance space. It is a design solution embraced from the yachting sector and serves this family home well.
To prevent the smell of chlorine and free movement of moisture into the rest of the house, full height sliding glass panels close off the pool without visually splitting the basement. The walls surrounding the pool have been finished with bespoke 3D concrete tiles with coloured glass centres — it is a visual language that extends below the water level as a 2D print.
Moving across to the other side of this level and you discover a large bedroom flooded by natural light, as is every space with an east-facing wall thanks to a light-well. This space includes a dressing area and generous bathroom with an etched coral tree design on textured porcelain tiles. The impact of this effect is enhanced thanks to carefully concealed lighting.
Entry to the property is via the ground floor, which features a strip of glass flooring providing an extraordinary view of the pool below. This level is the heart of the house with a very contemporary kitchen that includes an island finished in book matched olive veneer. To ensure a clean aesthetic when not in use, the kitchen features a custom full height pocket door system to conceal the wall appliances and units. It is a clever solution that converts the space into a clutter-free gallery area. From the kitchen, guests are invited to a dining, seating and library area towards the back of the building before reaching floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
Once the day is done, the family can retire to their rooms on the first floor. Directly above the entrance is a Juliet balcony — a quaint feature in the master bedroom, which includes an en-suite bathroom finished with a playful tile design with tessellating fish in various blue tones.
Next to the master suite is an office, which despite being in the middle of the house is still flooded with natural light thanks to a skylight. It is an essential element for a working space and provides a quiet space for concentration in a busy household. At the opposite end of this floor is a children's bedroom that accommodates four beds. This has been achieved by fixing the beds onto the walls at three levels and at different angles to make the room playful, while smooth surfaces and corners ensure safety.
The nautical theme in the master bedroom en suite continues in the family bathroom, located next to the children's room, with the use of manta ray shaped tiles in various colours of blue.
A ribbon of stairs, which leads from the basement and extends up to the roof where it meets a skylight with a sliding panel, connects each floor. The natural daylight from the skylight casts playful shadows onto the 3D wall that lines the staircase, imitating a crushed paper effect. When the evening descends, the individually side lit open treads emit warm beams of light onto the 3D wall.
Another significant feature of the building is a luscious green wall that provides interest and introduces a touch of nature into the light-well that would otherwise be bare concrete.