The Househunter: Room by Room

I’m only showing you this one because the Mad Husband has actually vetoed us buying it and moving there and so if I can’t have it then one of you must…. It was a totally irrational thing – as falling in love often is. I have never before wanted this style of house but something about it has called me and I want to bring it back to live. And I want to sit on that terrace too. Want to come for a look around?

It was built in 1938 by the German architect Rudolph Frankel and is a Grade II listed four bedroom Modernist house in Stanmore, north London, which is on the market with The Modern House for £1,500,000. It’s not at all what I would normally go for but there is something about the setting and those wonderful corner windows that I have totally fallen for.

It has many of the hallmark of classic Bauhaus style and indeed Frankel, a German Jew from Berlin who had his own studio, was invited to join the school by Walter Groppius but declined saying he was too busy. When the Nazis seized power he fled to Bucharest where he stayed for several years before joining his brother in Stanmore in 1937.

He built two houses here for himself and his sister as well as a number of factories before, having been interned for a short time as an enemy alien in 1939, he emigrated to the US to teach in Ohio. He died in 1974.

The house is designed as two cubes – the second of which was a garage but has since been converted into a library and and office, which leads out to the large, and landscaped gardens. Downstairs there is a large reception hall – the entrance, a kitchen, with separate dining room, and a large sitting room which also leads out to the garden.

Yes it needs redoing, but look at the view from the kitchen sink. And all those wonderful corner aspect windows which would really flood the place with light. When I persuade the Mad Husband to move here, I might also ask for some of the furniture – those two chairs in the room below are fabulous aren’t they?

The key with a project like this is to keep the character and the original thinking behind it but to update it for the new century. Sometimes the key details get lost in an effort to modernise but equally you don’t want to turn it into a pastiche of modernism.

Now, this is a clever idea and I saw something similar in a client’s house a few months ago but wasn’t sure how to describe it. So if you have a large master bedroom – one that is wide rather than long – this can work really well for storage.

Yesterday, I showed you how I created a wardrobe at the end of my long and narrower bedroom but this is good for a square. Basically you build a wardrobe all along the wall that you come in by. This creates a slight tunnel/lobby as you come into the room but gives you masses of storage that, if you had push close handleless doors would look like a wall.

This room is marked as 16ft by 14ft but it doesn’t say if that’s to the back of the wardrobe or the front. Now I have seen rooms that are 10ft square that work as doubles – and remember you don’t need anything else storage-wise if you do this plan (assuming the door is in the right place to make it work) so if your room was anything over 12ft this would work.

The house I saw it in had also taken some space out of the room behind so that behind one set of double doors was a small shower room that you didn’t even know was there until you opened the door. So it’s always good to have a look at the floorplan of a property for an aerial view of the space.

In this house there is one bedroom that runs the full width of the house at 28ft long by 13 wide so you could build a false wall across like mine but create a really generous dressing room behind. Or a bathroom.

It’s slightly hard to tell which room is which from the way the furniture is being used but since the house is around 3,000 sq ft you won’t be short of space. Or do I mean me….


This, I think, is the long thin upstairs bedroom so you could leave this part with the windows as the bedroom and create a dressing room or bathroom behind it that wouldn’t have a window but there would be some natural light coming from the sleeping area. I think we need to go and have a real look… Last year Open House London organised a walking tour of Stanmore and its modernist and art deco homes and the next tour is in September 2019 so I might keep an eye out for that.

And in the meantime does anyone want to lend me one-and-a-half-million quid. Actually make that two – I’ll need to renovate as well. What do you think? Does anyone else see the potential of this place?

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. Its an unusual building. I do think it has potential. All that natural light which comes flooding in through those windows. Good view as well. Maybe a rich artist would make a good home of it.

  2. What a hidden gem – great bones with so much potential – and the chattels within as well! You don’t get these ones coming round very often I wonder if something wonderful could be added to the roof? The garden could be a life’s work, but a very rewarding one… Very tempting indeed….

  3. Crowd funding? I am sure there are a few of us that would love to see what you could do with this space 🙂

  4. We have that wall-of-wardrobes around the door design in our ex-council (built 1951 to mark the Festival of Britain!) flat in Bethnal Green – that’s how they designed it, so clever!

  5. It may not be you, but it is definitely me! Now….. if you could get your mitts on Saturdays lotto numbers in advance, Ill buy a ticket, win the money and spend it all on the house….. deal? 😉

  6. I would love to see how this was furnished when it was first built! Lovely, lovely garden space as well.

  7. I’m afraid I agree with the Mad Husband Kate… this is not you at all 😳 Yes it has huge potential but I love your house. It’s warm and stylish and much more YOU.

  8. Think you are longing to get your teeth into a large and challenging project Kate rather than working on smaller ones. that do not stretch you anymore,

    Something very different and this house ticks all the boxes.

  9. There is something really nice about this type of house. The floorplan is really good too. It’d be easy enough to connect the biggest bedroom to one the bathrooms via a dressing room at the back of it and the dining room and kitchen could be one big room with an enlarged entrance to the living room in a sort of open broken plan and you’d have that library room to retire too to get away from everybody.
    You can tell I like it as much as you, Kate!
    I am not quite yet yearning for a bungalow but having two floors only would so nice!

  10. I can certainly see the appeal. Wonder if they are selling the furniture separately? Some lovely pieces in that house.
    Debs x

  11. I wish I could win the lottery and give you the money! This house is amazing, it would suit you and you would make it more fabulous – the light and space is lovely as is the garden – we would all wait with bated breath to see what you would do!

  12. It should be yours Kate, or at least you should have a say in the future owner. It’s charming and you wouldn’t ruin it.

Comments are closed.