The Househunter: Room by Room

Anyone who has ever approached London from the west will surely have noticed the remarkable Art Deco Hoover building on the A40. And perhaps felt a little bit sad that it was mostly home to a giant supermarket. But guess what – it has been converted into flats and while the supermarket will remain that means that we can have a little peak inside. Wanna come?

I heard about this only a couple of days ago following a talk I did at The Electric, part of Soho House, on the new book – which was formally launched last night at Heals as you read this. The next day I received an email from someone who had been at the talk asking if I would help her decorate her new flat in the Hoover Building. Well how fast can you type: Yes please I’m on my way round right now.

In the meantime I thought you might like to have a little look. Sadly all the flats have been sold now but I’m told there are still a couple for rent via IDM Properties.

The building was designed in 1931 by Wallis, Gilbert & Partners and was the UK HQ for the manufacture and repair of Hoovers. It was regarded as a model factory for the welfare of the 3000 people who worked there. But in the 1980s production ceased and in 1989 it was taken over by Tesco who used it as both a supermarket and office space.

But it was mostly empty until, in 2015, it was bought by IDM properties who wanted to convert it into flats. They hired Interrobang to come up with a plan for both accommodation ranging from studio flats to three bedroom homes with the instructions to keep as many of the original art deco features as possible.

It was quite complicated to convert as the architects need to insert extra floors between the existing ones but I think you will agree that the end result is amazing. Imagine sleeping in that bed under the stars. I tried to do that – albeit with a much smaller skylight – in the bathroom in the loft. I wanted to lie in the bath and look at the stars but I didn’t brief the builder properly and he put the window in the middle of the ceiling, which was entirely logical, but meant that it’s my tummy that looks out and my head is still staring at the ceiling. So I painted it navy blue to compensate.

They have kept the light and bright feel with this open plan living space in the show flat too. What do you think?

I’m always banging on about how important the hall is when it comes to setting the mood after a long day at work. Imagine opening your door to this every day. Even getting a letter out of that lovely shiny pigeonhole would feel special wouldn’t it?

Sadly that’s all we’ve got time for this week. It’s been a busy few days what with the talk at Soho House and a tiny, tiny, two minute appearance on You & Yours on Radio 4 on Wednesday – which somehow took the whole morning to prepare for and travel to and from. I hope you will forgive me a short, but I reckon, brilliant post – in terms of the pictures anyway!

Have a lovely weekend everyone.

Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. Great post but I do wonder what happen when it gets hot in that flat with the two huge windows in the ceiling? They appear not to open.

    The Post boxes in the hall are drop dead gorgeous so a pity magazines will be crushed and the postman will stuff them with junk mail. In truth beautiful but far too small. I speak from experience.

  2. Read about you and your new book in the free mag with my local paper yesterday and I was quite choked and proud of you – I’m sure we all feel like we know you so well! I love the Hoover building too – thanks Kate

  3. It’s such a beautiful building. I love the silver postboxes, and the parquet floor in the room with the sofa, but it looks a bit sterile. I’d have to warm it up with art, rugs, and more furnishings.
    I used to go to school not far from Du Cane Court in Balham, and always wanted to go inside to have a look (my love of interior design and architecture started at a young age thanks to my dad).

    I heard your Radio4 piece. It was very short!

  4. Oh how FABULOUS! I was sad that it was Tesco’s and always said I wanted to live there (I also lived for a spell in Ducane court). And even more fabulous that we’re going to get to see your talents in such a different space. We ARE going to get to see, aren’t we??!!! Pretty please?

  5. Ooh, greed is a terrible thing but I WANT to live there. Have so often driven past it and how fantastic that it has been brought back to life so empathetically. Thanks, Kate. Have a great weekend too!

  6. What a treat to be able to see inside – thank you for this article! Those original features are so wonderful and the developers have done a fantastic job, from the look of these photos.

    I drive past the Hoover building every week and I’ve always been fond of it (as, I’m sure, have many others). The location right on the A40 would probably put me off buying, but I’m sure they’ve done an excellent job of soundproofing etc.

  7. OMG what heaven! It is hard to choose between Art Nouveau and Art Deco, but this does make me want to put on a Ginger Rogers-style chiffon gown and feather boa and move right in.
    The only thing is the green grille over the windows. Looks great on the outside, but I am not sure I’d want to see it from the inside.
    I have a skylight over the bed and can confirm is marvelous to sleep under the stars.

    1. Dear Taste of France,

      That’s not grilles of the windows, but the original Art Deco windows. What the architects have done is install new windows on the inside so that they retain the Art Deco vernacular on the outside but get the benefit of modern glazing thermal capabilities on the inside. The new windows act like a form of secondary glazing. I doubt from a planning perspective they would have been allowed to remove the original windows as this is such an iconic building. Great piece Kate, thank you.

  8. How many times have I driven past that building and thought how wonderful it would be to live there? I am speechless with envy.

  9. What a beautiful building, the entrance hall is so theatrical, it’s lovely.

  10. Stunning! Reminds me of Du Cane Court in Balham, which is also a beautiful building tho’ the very long, narrow passages make it feel dark and enclosed.

  11. Thank you for the lovely post on the Hoover building, it brought back memories of my late father who was an electrical engineer at The Hoover factory in Merthyr Tydfil, he would travel up to London Perivale’s Hoover factory for meetings in the 60’s and come back and tell us how amazing the building was.

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