This is a collection of eight new apartments a few minutes from Church Street in Stoke Newington, which is a cool villagey area in north London, and each one has private south-facing outside space while one, no 8, is part of the Government Help to Buy Scheme which means if you can raise a five per cent deposit you can then borrow up to 20 per cent (40 in London) interest free for five years. Coming round?
The XO Collection is on with The Modern House with prices from £575,000 (for the one bedroom no 8 Help to Buy) to £850,000 for the largest three bedroom. Now I’ll admit and say what drew me in was the colour scheme. This is after walking down Tottenham Court Road – home of the furniture stores – the other day and seeing that every sofa in every window was a cream bouclé, mostly curved and mostly with a rust coloured cushion on. So it’s back to that age old dilemma of you may not want to follow trends but sometimes it’s quite hard to buy anything else – I’m generalising here but you know what I mean.
And perhaps that is why this apartment stood out so much. Firstly it’s an antidote to the usual developer’s grey canvas (we’ll come onto the concrete) and secondly a burgundy kitchen – anyone? Mine is chocolate brown but this warm burgundy is lovely with the wooden floors and cream accents and it does feel like a space you could move straight into as it has a little more personality than the usual new build.
Also burgundy kitchen who’d a thought? And keeping the middle cupboards the same pale as the wall behind the sink makes them almost disappear so the kitchen is less dominant than it might otherwise be and is simply zoned by the taller, dark cabinets at either end. Paint – never underestimate its power to transform your space and do so much more than simply add colour.
The furniture won’t be included in the price, but note also how there are several vintage pieces to bring character and warmth rather than a generic Swedish superstore feel ( and I speak as a fan of that place). I also love a glass coffee table to make a space feel lighter and larger as it allows the light to flow through but do make sure you have something on it at all times. When I was filming my course (oh did you miss it? Here…) in The Artist’s Residence Hotel, there was an empty glass coffee table in the middle of the sitting area and the producer, the cameraman and I all fell over it more than once.
The other thing is the walls aren’t generic rental white or grey but a soft mushroom colour (I might say pink) which warms up the concrete and works well to link the parquet floors with the more industrial ceilings. This is also a clever little spot to tuck a desk although I think you might not want to work in a corner facing the wall full time and would undoubtedly graviate to the kitchen table. Unless, of course, you need to work on a desk top that you can’t move around in which case try and make use of any spare corners you might have.
If you don’t need a desk in a space like that then you can always add shelves – either for books or storage – modern flats rarely have enough and most of us forget that it’s fine to consider wardrobes but what about the spare towels/sheets/loo rolls. In fact this might make the perfect spot for coats too as that’s another thing that takes up a lot of space and gets forgotten about.
This is the bedroom that you can see at the end of the corridor and again, while the bedlinen is grey and white, the rattan bed and large wooden mirror do all the work in here to create a much warmer space. Grey really is very easily influenced and if you have embraced this shade in your interiors and are feeling it’s a little cold then a bit of natural wood will go a long way towards turning things around without letting go of the look you wanted to achieve.
A reminder to always consider the view into and out of a room – especially in a modern building or a flat where there can often be long hallways and corridors so you might need something strong enough to stand out and be seen from a distance. In the grey bedroom it’s a large picture on the wall and above it’s the strong colour of the bedding that takes its cue from the soft pink (sorry mushroom) walls.
Even the tiny bathroom has stuck to the plan with this feature basin in a warm orange. You might not want a coloured bathroom suite (yet) but a feature basin can work and isn’t too scary. They work really well in downstairs loos but also here this is what you would see if the door was left open and it’s a little more stylish than the average white number. The black legs and taps also really work to make it a feature (although I appreciate no storage) and the terrazzo backdrop running up the walls and side of the bath from the floor makes the room feel bigger than it would if there was a sharp break between floor and wall.
Essentially while the backdrop is grey and concrete, the developers Artform, interior designers Scenesmith and Dowen Farmer Architects have added a palette of rich Autumnal tones and vintage furniture to these apartments to make them feel welcoming and to add more character than you might usually expect from a new build.