Raising the roof: London's most dramatic double-height homes

​Given that London is a city where more floorspace is what everyone wants, to deliberately give up space to add height seems like property madness.

But the effect of height, especially double-height space, is often underestimated in interior design. This is why the best interiors in top-end contemporary homes now feature the soaring drama of entrance halls or living rooms with ceilings that top 30ft.

“It is a pretty profligate way to use space,” admits Ed Mead, executive director of estate agents Douglas & Gordon. “It is also a fairly recent phenomenon, and part of the prime central London premier property scene. It’s the showing-off factor.”

Tom Tangney, a partner at Knight Frank, says the crucial benefit of a space with super high ceilings is light. 

“These rooms really are flooded with light and that is what people love. And great walls are fabulous for hanging interesting art, or displaying a library of, say, 1,000 books.”
£1.65 million: Alex Michaelis of interior architects Michaelis Boyd gave his own flat in north Kensington a double height living room rather than cram in another floor (through Domus Nova)

When Alex Michaelis, director of Michaelis Boyd — the interior architects of phase two of the £8 billion Battersea Power Station project — was redesigning his own flat in St Quintin Avenue, north Kensington, he opted for a double height reception room rather than cramming another floor in above it, which would have made the three-bedroom flat feel like any other city centre period conversion.

The duplex (pictured above), which Michaelis lived in, is on the market for £1.65 million (www.domusnova.com).

However, double height design doesn’t need to be completely shock and awe, it can work on a more domestic level in a period family home, as well as lateral flats.
£3.69 million: the upper floor ceilings have been removed in this four-bedroom house in Limerston Street, Chelsea (Douglas & Gordon), losing some loft space but giving the rooms pitched ceilings

The owner of a four-bedroom house in Limerston Street, Chelsea (£3.69 million; www.douglasandgordon.com) has removed the upstairs ceilings, forsaking a small but useful loft space, in order to give the top floor master bedroom suit high, pitched ceilings. This innovation has given the bedroom and bathroom an airy look and exposed beams and brickwork even invest it with a subtly industrial, architectural feel.

Another way to retrofit a double height space is when building an extension. A newly renovated four-bedroom house in Charles Street, Mayfair (£15 million; www.wetherell.co.uk) has had a simple glass rear extension.

Some “side to side” rear extensions look a little mean thanks to their long, slim footprint. But this beauty, by virtue of its double volume, has a wonderful feeling of open space and does not compromise the light into the rear of the main house. Ed Tryon, managing partner of Lichfields Buying Agency, is a fan of the double height.

“People have got a little bit obsessed with square footage, but my view is that at the top end buyers are a different breed. Volume is often more valuable, and a point of difference,” he says.

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