The Househunter 3/7/15

Just one property for you this week. Because it’s a rather special one and I wanted to have a proper look around. It’s an early design by the architect Norman Foster, who, if you’re not up on your architects is like the Mick Jagger or Paul McCartney of his world. A sort of architectural rock star if you like.

garden view

Originally built in 1862, the house was extended and refurbished in 1968 by Patty Hopkins, then at Foster’s practice. It has many of the characteristics which made these architects famous exponents of the High Tech style of architecture, including exposed steel roof trusses, blockwork walls and large expanses of glazing.

eames loungers

The house caused great excitement at the time, and was featured on the cover of House & Garden. It’s located on a small mews in Hampstead and has two bedrooms. This is the first time it has been on the market since it was remodelled and it does now, according to the The Modern House, who are offering it for £2,250,000, need some sympathetic modernisation.

foster house

Having said that, there are lots of things I love. Imagine being able to find a copper cooker hood for example. Although I’m not sure I fancy terracotta tiles as a worktop. I’ve seen them in Italy and always found them charming for two weeks of a summer holiday but not, perhaps, as a permanent feature.

piano in modern setting

I love the juxtaposition of the grand piano against the brick wall and exposed steel trusses of the roof. That and the two sofas also gives you some idea of the size of this room.

hanging chair

And look at this: the original hanging chair – although I don’t suppose that’s included in the sale. You can read the rest of the history on the site but here’s a flavour:

In the late 1960s [the house] was purchased by Ron Hall, a Sunday Times managing editor, and his wife, a journalist and musician. According to the article in House & Garden: “Mr Hall has some strongly held convictions about combining architecture with industrial design. He certainly didn’t want a twee conversion. As if to underline the fact, he called in Norman Foster – best known for his uncompromising industrial buildings.

black and white hanging chair

“The sloping roof was pitched up to the eaves of the old coach house so that the wall below could be knocked out – transforming a cramped upstairs room into a spacious gallery.”

And wouldn’t that be a great place to work? To give you a sense of perspective, the whole plot, including the garden, is about the same size as a tennis court, which might feel large when you’re trying to return service but isn’t very big for a whole house and garden.

open plan study

What do you think? I’d love it and would want to make minimal changes.

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.