Words and Styling by Emily Wheeler
Photography by Ingrid Rasmussen, all rights reserved
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Graham installed the wood burning stove as part of the renovations, ‘carrying the logs up the stairs is my new fitness regime’, he laughs. The pendant light is by Verner Panton and the chairs are by Robin Day.
Two striking prints by street artist Paul Insect dominate this side of the sitting room. The cushion is by Design House Stockholm.
The sofa is from Conran while the cushion and throw are both from SCP. A Banksy print called ‘Bomb Middle England’ hangs above the sofa.
Graham, Anne and Stella share their home with their two Jack Russell dogs.
Two vases from the Lynby pottery sit alongside a striking lamp on the Danish rosewood sideboard by Arne Vodder from Two Columbia Road.
The film crew sign is a little piece of memorabilia from the family’s previous home in London Fields, which was used as a film set for the film Hot Fuzz. ‘Our sitting room was used as a green room for Cate Blanchett during filming and she came rushing out when she saw Stella, who was a tiny baby, to give her a cuddle’, recalls Graham.
The lights in the kitchen and dining room are by Mutto from Skandium. The table base and chairs are Eames, while a friend custom built the table top for Graham and Anne.
The storage bed is from Greer Beds and the light is the Artichoke light by Louis Poulson, ‘It’s not from the 1960s, it’s from SCP, it just looks aged because we stored it in a cattle shed in Norfolk and it rusted a bit, but we quite liked the rusting because it gives it a vintage look’, says Graham.
‘I designed the bed with Mick and we struggled to get anybody in to build it for sensible money so we decided to build it ourselves. It took a while! We made a bespoke bed to make her a secret play space, a camp space, desk or a home cinema underneath,’ says Graham.
The wall stickers in Stella’s room are from Supernice on Columbia Road.
Finding the right area in London in which to bring up a young family is the holy grail for many new parents. Having lived in some of the hippest areas in London from Notting Hill to London Fields, interior designer Graham Judkins and his partner Anne, who works in finance, wanted to find somewhere a bit quieter to bring up their daughter, five-year-old Stella. Their search took them all over London and even a move to Norfolk and back before they decided that their new flat was the perfect place for them to settle down.
‘We had moved from London Fields and a three bedroom town house to a massive five bedroom barn conversion, which was much too big for us. The idea was that lots of friends would come and stay, Stella went to a lovely school and I would concentrate on Stella while running my design company, giving me the ability to control my work-life balance,’ says Graham, who runs the design company Untitled Design Studio, ‘But Anne spent all her time on the motorway and it didn’t work.’
Their new home seems to provide the right balance between urban living and family life. ‘There are lovely places to go and lovely things to do but on a Friday night nobody says ‘let’s go to Maida Vale for a drink’, says Graham. ‘It seemed an oasis of calm in a busy city.’
Having decided that this was where they would like to live, Graham and Anne found that the best homes were being snapped up before they could make an offer. ‘Places sell really fast and we’d looked at a few flats then we saw this place before it came on the market,’ Graham recalls, ‘We put in an offer straight away so we were the only people to view it.’
Graham, who founded his design studio with his friend Mick Birch after working at several prestigious interior design companies, was happy to take on the extensive renovations the flat needed as it gave him the opportunity to redesign the layout and bring the space up to his own exacting standards. ‘It was in a really bad state. The floor was two inches higher on one side than the other and there were structural issues, but there’s always a solution and it gave us the opportunity to reconfigure the apartment with the emphasis on living space,’ says Graham. He set about laying a limed oak engineered floor and put in underfloor heating throughout while redesigning the layout with the emphasis on increasing the amount of communal living space. ‘Our idea was to keep the bedrooms small because we just sleep in there. The design of Stella’s room takes advantage of the high ceilings and she has plenty of space to play and the sliding panel between our room and Stella’s keeps her close and makes the best use of the space’, he states. ‘We wanted to open up the space and create somewhere you live, not just somewhere you exist’.
Because the flat is in an Edwardian mansion block in a conservation area the couple were limited in the amount of structural changes they could make, but were keen to introduce a contemporary look to the space. Graham achieved this through the introduction of clean lines and exceptional attention to detail such as the lack of skirting boards and using a minimal palette of materials throughout. ‘All designers and architects hate skirting boards and they’ll spend a fortune avoiding using them. There were no skirting boards or architrave and the whole flat needed to be taken apart and put back together so that is what we did’, he says.
The flat now flows seamlessly from one room to another following the lines of the limed oak flooring and punctuated only by a sliding wall that separates Graham and Anne’s bedroom from Stella’s. These modern details sit comfortably with the period feel of the flat and have created a clean, airy and comfortable space for the young family to live in.
Of course, the heart of any family home is the kitchen and this room is situated in the centre of the flat, overlooking neighbouring gardens. Graham designed the kitchen himself and had it hand built to ensure it met his exacting standards. The beautiful kitchen cabinet doors are made from plywood panels from Tintab, which have been fitted to carcasses bought on the high street, ‘Our builder is a wonderful craftsman and the only builder I’ve ever used. He’s happy to take on challenges and built the whole place with extreme precision’, Graham says. This attention to detail is evident in the way that the lines of the kitchen cabinet doors line up with the grouting in the tiled floor, signaling that great care and attention has been paid to every element of the design. ‘The plywood is pretending to be solid wood but you can’t really get wood that wide so we’ve taken a natural material and engineered it to find an honest solution to show that it is man made and has its own beauty’, says Graham, who also designed the bespoke shelving and kitchen storage.
Once the renovations were complete, the couple set about moving their impressive collection of mid century design classics and highly collectible graffiti art into their new home. Years of scouring up and coming East London design stores and obsessively bidding on furniture on eBay have resulted in Graham and Anne building up an enviable collection of twentieth century design classics such as the Robin Day chairs in the sitting room, bought for a song on eBay, and the Arne Vodder sideboard purchased from the couple’s favourite shop, Two Columbia Road. The huge collection of graffiti art by artists such as Banksy, Eine and Paul Insect sit comfortably alongside the contemporary furniture and are a reminder of the couple’s roots in the East London design scene. ‘We were exposed to a lot of Banksy’s early work when we lived on Brick Lane and we bought several early prints for practically nothing at a shop called Eat My Handbag Bitch, which has sadly gone now. We’ve got so many, we keep some of them in the loft because we don’t have enough wall space,’ says Graham.
In the couple’s bedroom the artwork next to the bed is by street artist Eine, a friend of the couple’s. ‘It’s based on two redundant bill boards in Hackney Wick that he took over for a few months and he wrote ‘Hell’ there to celebrate life, London and of course, Hackney Wick’, says Graham. This room is simple in its design and decoration and the Artichoke light by Louis Poulson dominates the space. ‘It’s not an original from the 1960s, it’s from SCP, it just looks aged because we stored it in a cattle shed in Norfolk and it rusted a bit, but we quite liked the rusting because it gives it a vintage look,’ he laughs.
Graham and Anne’s room is divided from their daughter Stella’s by a sliding panel that glides seamlessly into the bespoke storage unit in the couple’s bedroom, so that most of the time the two rooms flow into one another enabling the couple to keep a close eye on Stella and creating an intimate space. ‘The sliding panel between our room and Stella’s keeps her close and makes best use of the space, it’s intimate like an annexe off our bedroom’, explains Graham.
It is Graham’s thoughtful design, which remains true to his distinctive aesthetic, that shows that he has really put something of himself into the flat, creating somewhere very special for his family to live in. This really is a space that Graham has created with his family’s needs uppermost in his mind. In fact, the family’s whole move to this flat was about creating the best possible environment for Stella to grow up in. ‘We didn’t want our child brought up by a nanny so we had moved to Norfolk, but Anne spent too much time on the motorway. In our need to escape London and being in Norfolk, we realised we didn’t want to escape London but we needed to rediscover the West of London!’ laughs Graham, and happily it seems that this is a family who may finally have found the place they can call home.