Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying; And this same flower that smiles today, Tomorrow will be dying.
It’s not often a home tour is started with a poem, but it’s fitting for this one. Part of a modernist- development built in the 1950s, the different blocks were named after poets. The one below is named after the 17th century English poet, Robert Herrick.
This is a really beautiful tour to break a long hiatus for. It’s lovingly decorated and restored – details like the ribbed glass internal doors were kept true to the original form.
One thing to note in the floor plan is the store room before the entrance of the property. This would almost certainly have been used to store coal, and highlights the history of this place.
Visit Dulwich, and you’ll find brick homes. Dulwich village, which I visited recently for the Edward Bawden exhibition, even has a semi-rural feel to it. In short, when you’re walking about in this area you don’t expect to see a modern house made of steel, concrete, and a luminous thermoplastic. And you don’t. The house is obscured from the street – nested in a central courtyard and former brickyard behind other houses. From the street you only see an unassuming metal gate.
Scandinavian style isn’t hard to find within the UK – every major furniture store has its own inspired range (and there’s always IKEA). There was something about this one which caught my eye. The palette is quite warm, but also neutral – and then you have some pops of gold. Adding to that are some interesting textures (such as smoked glass and ceramics). Note that the rose gold mirror isn’t a part of the ‘Nordic Retreat’ range, but can be found here instead.
Whilst Gerald Beech is best known for the Liverpool house Cedarwood – a prototype for future estates that drew tens of thousands of visitors but never saw mass-production – the architect also built another gem on the other end of the country. Broadstairs, in Kent, is a mid-century time capsule.
Broadstairs, built in the early 60s, was created for a family downsizing from a large and ‘stiff’ 18th century manor. The brief was to create “a more manageable home which still retained a sense of space”. In ‘The Architect & Building News’ journal, a critic wrote of the high central ceiling:
“the extension of part of the living room through two floors has created a strong element of vertical space which is apparent from all parts of the house and, with the stairway and bridge link pass through it, the accommodation on the first floor becomes an entity with the ground floor”
Later the same critic wrote of the way structural elements had been used to frame the divide between different areas:
“Exposed joists and beams have been used, and by giving careful consideration to their positions and direction of run, this structure is dominant in the spatial idea… The provision of such a modular discipline in the structure at an early stage during the building operation did much to encourage exact craftsmanship by the building operatives”
The front exterior is relatively modest and opts more for privacy than anything else. We start with the kitchen and dining area below.
Moving into the central living area we can see the space really does open up.
Moving upstairs, we note a transition from the main living room to the bedrooms, and here a change of character. The house goes from being quite open downstairs and along the walkway, to more sheltered and snug.
The gallery wall links the open living area – stretching the theme upstairs.
Image source is The Modern House, Streetview can be found here. I’ve created a map below for reference.
In a quiet commuter suburb of London, you can find a group of houses that more closely resembles midcentury Denmark or Sweden, than postwar England. The estate, built in 1964/5, was one of very few experiments of modernist housing by the private sector in Britain.
Designed by Swiss architect Edward Schoolheifer (employed by the Lyon Group), the houses are each internally arranged around a central ‘hub’ that includes the main living areas and very high and open glass windows. This follows the mid-century modern concept of blurring the division between inside and outside as it creates a very strong visual link to the garden.
When the houses were completed they cost approximately double the average price for a three-bed house in London (£3,500). The proximity to Shepperton studios meant that it’s had a few star-studded residents, including Tom Jones (pictured outside his house), the singer Dickie Valentine (whose unfortunate car crash inspired a novel by the local JG Ballard), and rentals from Marlon Brando, Rod Steiger and Julie Christie. Scroll down or click through for two photo sets from houses recently sold in the area.
For the first home tour of the year, we’re heading to Switzerland to a recently remodelled 17th century Alpine retreat – the Andermatt Chalet. Andermatt is high up in the mountains, at a 1500m elevation, and surrounded by mountains around 3000m high.
The place not only has a neutral palette, but also a neutral blend of old and new – with the interior designed by Jonathan Tuckey, a firm once described as ‘[able to mix] old and new to make defiantly contemporary architecture‘.
A festive treat this time. This building is modern-era (built 1972), but has some history behind it – hence the unusual name. A rare honour among modern-builds, this house was listed as ‘Grade II’ by Historic England. In a village outside the relatively small but world-renowned town of Cambridge, it’s a perfect mid-century end to the year.