Magnus Pettersen and Ella Jones gave a tired Victorian property a contemporary twist with a clever use of vibrant colours and natural materials.
When Magnus Pettersen and Ella Jones upsized from a small modern townhouse to a larger London property, they were looking for a project. The couple, who met 10 years ago, had completed three renovations before buying this three-bedroom Victorian terrace. ‘Its converted loft, extended kitchen and big garden were huge draws for us,’ explains Ella. They also loved the location on a tree-lined road. ‘It’s very peaceful and close to lots of green space,’ she adds. Used for shared occupancy for years, the house was severely neglected, with strippedout period features and a confused groundfloor layout. ‘There was a bathroom in the middle of the sitting room,’ Ella recalls. Magnus is an award-winning product designer and Ella is a fashion designer working for global brands, so they brought a strong creative vision to reimagine the property. They lived on-site throughout the year-long renovation, acting as interior designers and project managers. Magnus and Ella worked alongside their builders, who were also able to complete all of the carpentry to a high standard. Knocking down the internal walls at ground level turned small rooms into bright, open-plan living spaces. The couple were keen to lay concrete flooring, so they dropped the floor level at the front of the house to meet the kitchen, where there had been a step down. They also moved the kitchen units and added double doors out to the garden and a skylight window above. To fit the supporting beam for the window, they had to move the staircase. ‘The old stairs were rickety and falling to bits,’ explains Ella. So the couple designed a new staircase for the builders to make. ‘They also made the kitchen unit doors that we planned to look more like furniture than a fitted kitchen,’ explains Ella. Keen travellers Magnus and Ella have filled their home with treasures from their trips and many of their interior ideas come from abroad. Throughout, beautiful Moroccan rugs add warmth and texture. The rugs are all from Ella’s extensive collection, which she sells in her east London shop, A New Tribe. A visit to Japan in 2017 influenced their design of the wood and reeded glass partitions that partially divide the kitchen and sitting room, while also framing the area by the front door where the hallway originally stood. ‘The reeded glass panels are a nod to mid-century open-plan homes and create a subtle division with a lighter effect than solid walls,’ says Ella. Inspired by the Swiss-French architect, Le Corbusier, the couple planned their colour palette using his Colour System, where every hue can be combined. The vivid blue wall in the kitchen-diner helps to zone the space and contrasts with the earthy neutrals, greys and blacks used elsewhere. On the first floor, they turned a bedroom into a bathroom, removing the ceiling to fit a pitched roof and adding a large window. The bathroom walls were finished with the tadelakt-style lime-based plaster typical of Moroccan bathrooms, and the pair designed a reeded glass shower screen to echo the ground-floor partitions. ‘Completely transforming a property is so satisfying,’ Ella says. ‘But it was such hard work. Next year we’re planning a holiday instead.
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