From the street, Stephen and Andrea Coates’s handsome, double-fronted Edwardian villa in Kingston looks traditional. However inside it’s anything but after a total transformation inspired by Asian design principles.
Stephen is an architect who spent 23 years working on high-rise residential projects across Asia, mostly in India. He and Andrea, a lawyer, moved to London from Singapore last year. Stephen knew he could rework and extend the villa while respecting its heritage. “The house had poorly constructed extensions to the rear, but offered width, high ceilings — important to stop a large space feeling like a conference centre — and good potential to extend and create a large living space overlooking the rear garden to the west.”
And there was a bonus — within the garden there was a second building, a bungalow. The couple discovered that author Dame Jacqueline Wilson had once owned the house and stored her books in the annexe. “She used to walk past it as a girl and her grandmother would say: ‘If I had the money, that’s the house I would buy’,” Andrea says.
The Seventies bungalow had become cold and damp so they knocked it down and built a studio annexe/ guest house with an art studio and gym.
The couple are semi-retired so they wanted their new property to be a flexible, live-work space for the next stage of their lives. “We didn’t want a house with five empty bedrooms. I find that quite disheartening when the kids aren’t here,” says Andrea. Instead, hidden beds allow the house and annexe to accommodate a family of nine when needed.
The main living space/kitchen occupies the rear of the house, with full-width sliding glass panels connecting with the garden. The minimalist kitchen is conceived as three pieces of large furniture — two wall units separated by the slot window and a 4.2 metre long island with black granite top that cantilevers towards the garden. A support kitchen sits between the main kitchen and the dining room, equipped with gas hob, butler’s sink and dishwasher. It’s typical of Asian houses to have two kitchens, Stephen explains. “So you keep cooking smells and noises away.”
To the right of the dining room is a study/guest bedroom with drop-down double-bed hidden in fitted wall units. In the old coal store in the basement, Stephen has built a wine cellar. Using three of the original four bedrooms, the entire first floor is laid out as a master suite. There’s a dressing room, laundry and huge spa-style bathroom. They designed the bed themselves; the reading and side lights were sourced by Lucy Martin. A ‘snug’ overlooking the garden can be screened off as a guest bedroom. Sofas join to make a bed and a discreet rail on the wall unit offers hanging space.
The villa was stripped back to a shell and rebuilt with double glazed heritage windows, thermal insulation and underfloor heating. The ‘missing’ corner of the plan to the north-west was infilled. Two planes of yellow stocks in a Flemish bond to match the brickwork support what appears to be a slender concrete slab reflective of the lintels on the front façade. An ‘up and over’ slot window separates the extension from the villa form — which pleased the planning department, Stephen says. A sedum roof offers additional insulation and softens the view of the roof from the first-floor windows.
Off-black walls and concrete floors extend from the living/kitchen space into the garden. To construct the Passivhaus standard annexe, prefabricated structural insulated panels were waterproofed and clad in fire-treated, black-stained Siberian larch; the sedum roof over the garage matches the house. Triple-glazing plus high levels of insulation and draught exclusion ensure low energy use: “Half of all power needs are met during daylight hours, by 18 solar panels sitting on the annexe roof.”
The living room/kitchen in the annexe has an Ikea kitchen with replacement ply doors and worktop. A bedroom can be used as a yoga room. A shower room, storage area and double garage complete the plan, while smart home technology links the buildings. Behind the acer in the centre of the garden is a black wall designed to split the path towards the garage and the guest house — and hide cars.
The couple intend to set up a design and development business here. And their house is a great template for clients. “I hope I can introduce some of the Asian ideas about making good, higher-density living experiences in the city,” says Stephen.
Article source: Evening Standard