The Maida Vale makeover: creating the perfect family home

Anahid Jarvis went back to the Maida Vale house where she grew up to raise her son with husband Simon, reworking the garden flat her aunt had called home along striking, modern, open-plan lines.
With its huge Victorian houses and wide, tree-lined streets, cute shops clustered round the Tube station, numerous famous residents — The Imitation Game’s Alan Turing was born here; Kate Moss lives here — and posh neighbours Little Venice and St John’s Wood, Maida Vale is a gorgeous part of town.
 
These days, many of the houses that once overflowed with big families and their armies of staff are now carved into flats holding an ever-changing international set of people passing through.
 
However, Anahid Jarvis, 33, her husband, Simon, 35, and their toddler son, Leo, are long-term residents. Anahid’s grandparents came to London from Cyprus after the 1974 coup d’état, and bought the house when it was a set of run-down flats with sitting tenants. They improved it, and Anahid grew up in an upper flat. Her aunt lived in the garden flat which filled the ground floor.
 
After her aunt moved out, the garden flat was let for a decade. Meanwhile, in 2002, Anahid, working in financial PR, met financial markets trader Simon. They married at Babington House in 2009 and as they looked for somewhere to raise a family, they thought of the flat.

 
At that time it had a garage on the side, and a central hall with lots of rooms off, carpeted and decorated for tenants. Anahid, who has a great eye for design, had recently changed career and begun to study art history.
 
She wanted to make things open-plan, to create more light and space, especially across the back, where a central window looked out to the high-walled garden with its lawn and roses.
 
The couple sounded out a few architects but none of them struck a chord. Then Anahid’s sister, a painter with a studio in Great Western Studios in Ladbroke Grove, said she’d noticed some architects based there, called Threefold. So the couple went to meet them. “We just clicked, I couldn’t work with people I didn’t get on with,” Anahid says.
 
The architects started on the designs while Anahid and Simon spent all their spare time trawling reclamation yards and looking for ideas.

In 1979, a modest extension had been put right across the back of the house. The architects opened the thick back wall of the original house line, leaving exposed bricks, and knocked out interior walls, creating a big, L-shaped sweep right across the back and down one flank of the house. They also put French doors to the garden.
 

This opening up causes dramatic change. Light fills what is now a vast, chic, industrial-urban kitchen-diner-living room. In the kitchen area are cream hand-made tiles, old brass hospital taps, reclaimed pendant lamps and polished concrete work surfaces.
 
A central island has an old butcher’s block set into a concrete surface, and a Falcon range completes the look. The reclaimed refectory table near the windows, again lit by pendants, is set with mismatched old chairs. Where giant load-bearing steels have been put in the ceiling, they have been left visible, marking out where walls once ran.
 
Anahid also longed for a master bedroom with an en suite, “and a walk-in dressing room like Carrie Bradshaw’s in Sex and the City.”
 
So the architects moved the master bedroom to the front, knocking through into the former garage to carve out a very chic en suite with patterned Spanish encaustic tiles on the floor, walls of bevelled Metro tiles, copper taps, and the really nice, warm touch of a sliding plank door to the bedroom, which the builder’s joiner made out of floorboards.
 
“I’d seen something like it at Babington House,” Anahid says. And the black-painted walk-in dressing room is as enviable as it should be.
 
Anahid and Simon wanted lots of storage, and the architects had the idea of lining the wide hall with bespoke wraparound cupboards made of planked timber, similar to the pale limed timber used for the floors. The long run of cupboards is broken up with a couple of glass-fronted cupboards, one housing a fitted wine-rack.
 
Two years after meeting the architects, at Christmas 2012, the couple moved into their gorgeous, light, modern, but also very warm-feeling home — the perfect place to raise Leo, born later that year.
 
WHO DID WHAT
Architect: Jack Hosea of Threefold Architects (www.threefoldarchitects.com), which was shortlisted for Young Architect of the Year 2014.
Builder: Strongcross, through the architect.
 
GET THAT LOOK
Bathroom white goods: CP Hart (www.cphart.co.uk) and Fired Earth (www.firedearth.com).
Copper taps: www.WilliamHolland.com, which also makes glorious copper baths, and www.fairfieldbuilders.co.uk

Lighting: vintage reclaimed lighting from Cornwall-based www.skinflintdesign.co.uk. Vintage-style lighting from Urban Cottage Industries (www.urbancottageindustries.com).

Tiles: Spanish encaustic bathroom floor tiles, a different pattern in each bathroom, from QS Supplies (www.qssupplies.co.uk). Another stockist is www.cement-tiles.com. Bathroom bevelled Metro wall tiles and kitchen hand-made brick-shaped cream tiles, all from Fired Earth (www.firedearth.com).
 
Paints: Anahid has a good eye for subtle paint tones, particularly warm greys and pale blues — colours that can easily look cold. Living Room: pale grey chimney wall in Strong White; hall and kitchen/dining walls in All White, and master bedroom in palest blue Borrowed Light. All from www.farrow-ball.com
 
Reclamation yards, shops, fairs and auction houses used: Lassco reclamation yards (www.lassco.co.uk); Retrouvius, for architectural salvage, (www.retrouvius.com); The Architectural Forum, again for salvage  (www.thearchitecturalforum.com; The Old Cinema antiques/salvage shop (www.theoldcinema.co.uk); Alfies Antique Market (www.alfiesantiques.com); The Decorative Antiques and Textiles Fair, Battersea, (www.decorativefair.com); Criterion Auction House (www.criterionauctioneers.com).
 
ANAHID’S INTERIOR DESIGN TIPS
Timescale: “It takes longer than you think. We spent all our weekends scouring reclamation yards and looking online and in magazines. I don’t like downlighters, so we bought interesting and vintage pendant lamps.”
 
Taps: “We didn’t want the cold look of silvery nickel taps. The kitchen tap is a salvaged old hospital tap from The Architectural Forum, stripped back to the original brass. Elsewhere brass or copper give a much warmer look.”
 
Be imaginative: “For my sliding bathroom door I bought old bathroom doors from Lassco which the joiner made into a traditional plank door. That idea came from a hotel.”
 
Economise: “We used plank boards for floors, to surround the bath in one bathroom, for the hall cupboards, and to make shutters for the French window — it ties the style together.”
 
Know your palette: Anahid used a natural palette of wood, ceramic tiles, polished concrete, and warm-cool colours to make a comfortable, slightly Scandinavian look that also maximises light.
 

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