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.
This small but strategically formed home, forms part of a larger estate with an original architect’s house that was built in 1964. The ‘garden house studio’, as the owners call it, was built more recently – in 2010 – as an outlet for the owner’s creativity and love of design. They are currently renting out the space for holidays. This is a short but sweet tour today, as mid-century styles have been very popular recently. Like this style? Check out this slick mid-century airport lounge, or have a peek at an American Cape Cod retreat.
I’ve been away in Vienna this week. A friend of mine got a job in the diplomat sphere that goes on there (a lot of international organisations known by their acronyms – (OPEC, IAEA, OSCE …) so we were celebrating. And Vienna’s fun in a calm way; plenty of nice cafes, museums, vintage clothes markets, and so on.
But enough about Austria. This week’s home tour is again in the scandi-style capital of Stockholm. It’s much more classically styled than usual, but isn’t fussy or pastiche. I appreciate the simplicity it’s offering. You can also explore the home’s neighbourhood if you’re interested.
I’m back to Scandinavia this week to peek inside this Stockholm flat that takes the trend and puts it in a simple, pared back, domestic setting. No chandeliers or overindulgence. Just a nice looking apartment with a small balcony.
In a recent victory for mid-century and retro fans alike, John Lewis has brought out a run of Lucienne Day designed cushions at John Lewis. The reasoning behind this return is twofold. Firstly, John Lewis has something of a history with Day – as she worked as a design consultant with the company for 25 years, ending in 1987. Secondly, it’s the centenary year of Lucienne Day’s birth, and the textiles form part of a retrospective of her life’s work.
The designs are original, such as the Calyx cushion (far right, in image below), which features abstracted flowers and was originally created for the Home Entertainment section of the Homes & Gardens Pavilion at the Festival of Britain in 1951.
There’s already strong demand for this collection, with some items already listed as out of stock. However, at around £50 per cushion, this is a tad more expensive than IKEA or a similar shop. I recently visited Habitat and found quite a few good bargains for cushions with a similar aesthetic. Whilst they’re not on sale right now, it might be a good idea to wait until after Christmas when they’ll inevitably be sales. Last weekend I saw this cushion in a shop for £10, and I’m kicking myself for not buying it there and then.