Manygate lane: the secret mid-century estate SE London


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.

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A Swiss retreat with a neutral palette

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‘.




Retro to go: a 60s-styled Dorset beach hut

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.

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A must-see before & after conversion in Wiltshire

This is a really impressive makeover of what seems like an incredibly difficult space to work with. Somehow the architectural designer behind this – Ian Hill – managed to make a studio flat with shop attached and a shower in the hallway, somewhere welcoming and spacious to live in. You can see some original thumbnails from what the house used to look like below, before we move on.

The outside has merely been repainted, but it’s what inside that counts. Something I really appreciated was that there wasn’t any large-scale reworking with the actual structure or features of the building; the designer strategically moved a few things around and used lighter colours to complement what the space already had.


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A Welsh house that flows over the river Ysgir

Surrounded by some of the most spectacular hill landscapes in Britain – the Brecon Beacons – this house fittingly was built as a testament to the surrounding landscape. Ty Hedfan (in Welsh, meaning hovering house) is unique, built on a site that slopes down to the meeting points of two rivers – Ysgir Fach and Ysgir Fawr. The dual design problems of a steeply sloping plot, and a no-build zone within seven metres of the river Ysgir, became an opportunity for the architectural firm Featherstone Young, which is known for having a focus on the context and area that surrounds a development.  The house cantilevers over the river bank and into the canopy of the trees, almost hovering as it does.

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An award-winning Victorian conversion from London with a must-see bathroom

From the entrance, this place looks like a typical Victorian house. There’s little you can see from the front, and the ubiquitous London Plane tree (the big one) outside doesn’t point to anything out of the ordinary – houses such as this being a relatively common but well-coveted staple in Britain.


However, once you go in through the hallway and past the living room you’re greeted by something quite unexpected. A burst of light and open planned space that meets the garden. Click on the images below for a larger size.

This is what makes this house special. Staying on the lower levels, and going back towards the front of the house you’re met by something more traditional.


You’re then thrust back into the new world, with a trendy study that’s part of the new conversion. This looks like such a perfect spot for concentration, or writing a book. The decoration is fairly minimal and the palette is limited, but there’s also a view of the trees which must be calming.


You’ll also notice that there’s some light coming from the back, which is a nice touch. 20170406-DSC_5135-web-950x63420170406-DSC_5044-web-950x63420170406-DSC_5037-web-950x63420170406-DSC_5025-web-950x633

The bedrooms are also all lovely, with some nice accents to boot. They’ve all made good use of space, and the mirrors, white walls and bright colours, all liven up the rooms.

The real showstopper in this building though, is what’s at the top of the tower conversion. A magical bathroom (below) with a completely glass roof. I don’t use the word magical with any exaggeration. This bathroom was the cherry on top that made the house received a RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) Award in 2008. An article in Grand Designs described the bathroom:

Upstairs the bathroom is more than just a room in which to groom. A small-scale bench in the shower room means you can sit while you shower, and on a clear night you can watch the moon traverse the sky through the glazed roof, from the comfort of a hammock.

New-builds always run the risk of being sterile, but this house is the opposite. It’s a place for late-night stargazing and leisurely late-afternoon lunches, with generous amounts of natural light and windows strategically placed to frame the natural surroundings

In the magazine Homebuilding & Renovating, more praise was given:

If there were a prize for best bathroom, [this] home in Hackney would easily win it. It’s rare that one finds a bathroom that multitasks, but Anne Katrine’s not only combines a magnificently stylish bathing area, but also has a space for exercising – complete with dumbbells – and hooks from which she can string a hammock to gaze up at the ever-changing sky through the room’s glazed roof



Photos were taken, with permission, from The Modern House. This property was on the market at point of publication.

A view to a lake

This tour today is something special – a penthouse with lakefront views near Stockholm from Nooks. From the top, you can look across Lake Mälaren (Lake Malar in English), one of Sweden’s largest lakes, and see Ekerö island, where Agnetha Fältskog from Abba reportedly lives. I can only imagine what the sunsets and sunrises are like in that top bedroom, especially as the balcony isn’t limited to one face. I think if I lived there I might even go the way of Cato the elder and swim au naturale every morning. Scroll right down to the bottom for a floorplan.


This is such a perfect spot to enjoy with some friends. I would probably add some hardy potted plants, and a spot for tealights though!


This home is rich in two things – balconies and charm!


I love that ceiling light. Also, are rugs in kitchen on trend now or what?

This pale green room below would be my first choice if I were staying here, it looks absolutely serene.


Once again I’m posting the floorplan here. It really helps me visualise a house when it’s more than one storey. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.