The Househunter: Room by Room – A Modernist House

I do love these modernist houses and while I have always lived in Victorian properties (pretty much all of them now I come to think of it – bar my Grandmother’s 14th century timber frame cottage) I really could be tempted by something like this although I’d probably need to knock the inside around a bit and that might be a shame to mess with it.

That said, according to the estate agent (Hamptons who are selling it for £915,000, it was originally designed to be easily divided into two apartments as the size of the owner’s family decreased – I’m assuming grew up and moved out rather than anything untoward happening.

Set on a large plot, the house was designed in 1937 by Connell, Ward and Lucas, in addition to the main house with off-street parking, there is a large west facing garden with a detached studio building at the bottom and a small section behind which includes a shed backing onto a wooded piece of common land.

In its current layout there four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen and two living areas and, if you look at the floorplan, you can see how it would divide into two bedroom flats. The kitchen, which is small, is tucked into the larger reception room, a layout which has been repeated on the floor above only with a bedroom. You can see from the image above how that has done.

It’s actually not a bad idea if you can cook in a small space and means you can tuck all the working parts and mess out of site and then emerge calm and swan-like into the larger space to eat and relax.

The current decor is fairly bland and neutral and while it’s Grade II listed that shouldn’t stop you adding a little more personality to the rooms. That grey sofa feels all wrong somehow but its quite a neat way to tuck a television area away into a corner while leaving the rest of the room free for other relaxing pursuits.

The problem with large square open plan spaces, often in new builds, is that it can be hard to zone the space where there are none of the nooks and crannies that period properties tend to have. At first those awkward spaces can be irritating but I think you miss them when they aren’t there as you are forced to use the furniture to zone the spaces.

It might have seemed counter intuitive when this was designed, to cut out a corner of a room for a kitchen and bedroom and to leave a large L-shaped space but actually, when you see how it has been used it has worked out well. You could do a similar thing in a large bedroom to create a dressing room or en suite bathroom and use the L for the sleeping area whichever of the bathing or dressing you didn’t put behind walls.

Similarly, if you have a sitting room this shape and you need a home office then you could try screening off an entire corner (or build a wall). And on that point – wall building; there is no rule that a dividing wall has to go up to the ceiling. If there is no window in the corner you want to screen off then stop the wall well below the ceiling so that it can borrow light from the main part of the room. Think of it more like a permanent screen that won’t fall over. Or, if you need it to be more sound (read child proof) then fill in the gap between wall and ceiling with glass. That way you still won’t lose any light but you can fix a door (and a lock?) and create a totally private space.

One to add to the planning list? Before we go this is the garden with this lovely studio at the bottom. This is another option for those with external space rather than internal but creating this would be a lot more expensive than adding a false stud wall. For those of you who haven’t read this before here is a post on how I created a walk through wardrobe in my bedroom with a false wall.

So anybody fancy it? And what would you do to the interiors?

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. Such an amazing home. I really liked the way you setup 4 bedrooms. I would love to read more post of exterior designs. Keep up the good work!

  2. Interesting home. The rear exterior wall looks like a Mondrian design. Thank you for continuing to provide a stimulating and distracting Friday to start an online journey. I love clicking through to see the further details. Happy weekend!

Comments are closed.