The Idealist

East London Industrial: A Residential Refurbishment inspired by an Ironmonger’s

Neatly fitted between an office building and an apartment block on a quiet side street in Clerkenwell, East London, lies a three-storey house that has undergone a full refurbishment. Michaelis Boyd, a design-led architectural practice known for their simple, elegant approach with an emphasis on sustainability, were commissioned to work on the house. Originally an 18th Century ironmonger’s workshop, this property has gone through numerous changes and renovations with it’s last incarnation in the early 1990s from a two-storey office to a three-storey contemporary town house. The origins of the building formed the inspiration for this project resulting in a modern design style with a light industrial touch.

Multifunctional Spaces

The owner wanted to create spaces suitable for working and entertaining so the floor plans were reconfigured with the ground floor for meetings and large parties, living level on the first floor and bedrooms on the second floor.

Commenting on the project, Alex Michaelis, co-founder of Michaelis Boyd says “Working on the Pear Street project was challenging in that there was so much space for a couple and they were living in a very disjointed way within the spaces, so convincing them to change their ways and create a flow to the spaces, and a more natural way of living and working in the spaces.”

Outside links

Being a terraced property the outdoor space has been cleverly utilised with a terrace at first floor level creating an extension to the living space and a new roof terrace providing vast views of the City. The design concept was to live connected to the exterior environment, taking in the views and integrating outdoor spaces achieved through bespoke windows and skylights throughout the house. The glazing on the terrace façades has been designed with minimal frames which slide completely into the walls creating a seamless feel of outdoor/indoor living when opened up. Three white birch trees have been planted for their sculptural form and shade they provide in the summer.

Material World

The façade to the street was clad in new brickwork and the window openings were reconfigured to suit the new layout including two new glass boxes projecting out from the building whilst providing window seats in the living room and guest bedroom. This attention to the materials and finish is present throughout the whole property with new polished concrete slabs on the ground floor and engineered rustic oak flooring in the rest of the house.

Industrial History

The new staircase is made of blackened steel plates clad with rustic oak treads with blackened perforated metal balustrades referencing the original ironmonger’s workshop and the industrial history of the area.

The Art of Food

The Bulthaup kitchen was designed so that cooking from the hob in the island unit faces out onto the terrace. The owner loves to barbecue so this was designed to function as an extension of the kitchen with a white painted brick clad chimney space housing a bio-ethanol fuelled fireplace outside.

A Bedroom Oasis

Designed specifically as a haven for rest, the master bedroom suite has a picture framed window with views across London with the only other items in the room being the bed and custom designed black stained oak and velvet headboard. The master bathroom has a grey moody palette with dark grey polished plaster wall, black chevron tile flooring and matt black sanitary ware from Dornbracht. Skylights over the double shower and dressing room allow light to penetrate these spaces.

Michaelis Boyd have created open circulation spaces allowing for the natural flow of people and activities, finished to their high standards whilst regenerating the property to suit modern day living with a sensitive nod to the building’s past.

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All photos courtesy of Billy Bolton

  • Helen is a fabric designer and lives with her husband and two sons near Bath. She grew up by the sea in Cornwall and is reinventing a modern coastal look of interiors with her debut collection in a minimal graphic design inspired style. Passionate about pattern, Helen is constantly capturing images on her phone for potential design inspiration.

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