Compromise is the key to harmonious décor decisions. Especially when you have two very different visions coming from opposite ends of the interior style spectrum.
Compromise, yes. And an emergency veto system. James Rogers and Thomas Ross, used it a lot. Thomas says, “We have very different ideas so it sort of had to be.”
The mixture of teacher James’s old school influence and Thomas’s modern minimalism makes for a special look. And this theme of old meeting new is one that runs throughout the whole development.
They have bought on the site of an old 19th Century bakery, where there are now eight new luxury apartments and three mews houses - including James and Thomas’s £1.2m property which was completed in May 2016, and they all look out over an ancient cobbled courtyard.
There are nods to the site’s history all around. From the original iron girder once used to winch grain still jutting out of one of the interior facades to the marks on the brickwork just outside the entrance to the courtyard itself: “If you look carefully you can see the scratches all the way along where the kids used to run their pennies along the wall as they queued for their loaves of bread,” says James.
VIBRANT YET VINTAGE
If the surrounding area is the epitome of Clapham’s history, then the house itself is a prime example of SW-style modern living. James, 34, and Thomas, 28, worked closely with the developer West Eleven and Jo Cowan Architects throughout the design and build period to create a space that was almost designed for them bespoke.
The house is flipped, with the two bedrooms and a bathroom on the ground floor, to make the most of the natural light in a kitchen/living area which spans the length of the property on the top floor - divided only using a post-industrial glass screen.
“The flip is all about getting the maximum volume of light in a very dense area,” says project architect Chris Wilkinson. “You try desperately to grab every last inch of light and this is such a good way of doing that.”
A huge, reclaimed wood kitchen table is the centrepiece of the entertaining area: “It had to be very natural,” says James. “All the materials we have used have been very close to what would have been here originally despite the modern design style. So we have used lots of wood, stone and metal.”
Another little touch which neatly ties together the old and the new is a gold leaf map of London on black canvas. It was the most expensive purchase the pair have made, accounting for £3200 of their £15,000 budget.
“When I was a student I used to have a folded out A-Z map of London on my wall,” says James. “I love the idea of that upgrade. From a creased map stuck on the wall with Blu-Tack to this beautiful piece of art.”
THE TECH GAP
Continuing with the mix of old and new, the house design also successfully encompasses two different approaches to the impact of technology on interiors. “Whatever the little generation gap there is between people who still have boxes of books, CDs, DVDs and those who have everything stored on their phone… we span that,” laughs 34-year-old James.
And so a bespoke set of display shelves were built. Almost acting like an accent wall at one end of the upstairs living space they are stacked full.
Though it doesn’t take a genius to work out whose possessions dominate: “I have a lot of stuff,” says James. “I went to university before digital cameras and Facebook were around so I have boxes of old, out of focus photos of really fun nights out. I want to keep them even if there is a thumb half over the lens because they are the only memories of that time that I have.”
“I am the opposite,” says Thomas. “Everything I need is on my phone or some other piece of technology. I want everything to be new, wireless and tech enabled. And if I had it my way I would have nothing more in here than a table and a sofa in the living room.”
Thankfully it seems that a compromise - once again - has been happily reached. James says he is happy to stop collecting “stuff” now that he has a kindle – “I am a happy convert to minimising the amount of things I own”. And Thomas is coming around to the stacked book shelves – “they look lovely. I like them. It’s vintage.”
Emily Wright is features and global editor of Estates Gazette.