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The Red House was originally the Holborn Union Offices and built in 1886 in the Queen Anne style. It has stunning ornate red brickwork. On a very tight budget, we were asked to do two things. Firstly, to bring some order to the kitchen, dining and living space and secondly, somehow, to create a gym, storage, dressing room and flexible space from the tiny second bedroom, which was to continue to be a bedroom.
The kitchen, dining and living space needed structure. No longer should the sofa sit in the kitchen and the dining table be tucked out of the way in the corner of the room. The floor to ceiling height ran to almost four metres, so we were also keen to use that height for drama. Using the height could make the small flat feel big.
A dining ‘bar’ provided the structure we needed. It was suspended from the ceiling with an encased metal framework clad in oak. The bar visually dropped from the ceiling, became a space to eat and then continued as a powerful visual element into the kitchen as a worktop. This used the height of the space, to pull the eye through the height and provided drama we sought. Off-the-shelf oak worktops were used, along with standard carcasses and off the shelf gloss white kitchen doors. Very little was bespoke, this kept the lid on cost. We used standardized elements from internet providers, we just assembled everything in an unexpected way.
The second bedroom was tiny, only just accommodating the bed. We designed one element, a piece of furniture that could act as a dressing area for the master bedroom and also allow the bed to fold away to free up the floor. Lighting was built into the unit to bring drama and to light the room. Everything was hidden behind sprayed white doors and the interior of the bed space was painted red with a light slot and book shelves to bring function and surprise. For such a small project, it all worked really well.
The Red House apartment was completed in September 2004 on a budget of £27,000 before VAT. The building contractor was JAR UK Limited