The highly regarded Jo Cowen , founder of RIBA-chartered architectural and design practice Jo Cowen Architects, takes us on an illuminating tour of her stunning Fulham home
Jo Cowen, the mastermind behind the Bakery Place development in Battersea amongst other high profile projects, often spends the weekend in South Park with her family.
For her, this spacious five bedroom property on Beltran Road in SW6, which she bought in 2012, is ideally located. ‘We did the full renovation a year ago,’ she tells me. ‘We absolutely love the street. All the houses are well done – none of them are tatty or neglected. It’s full of families, and virtually no flats. It’s a one-minute walk to South Park.’ The house is also within walking distance of Thomas’s Fulham, the sister school to Prince George’s future school in Battersea. Parsons Green is also known for excellent French schools including the Lycee, Ecole des Petits and Ecole Marie D’Orliac.
Dream location aside, when it came to the renovation itself, Cowen wanted the house to be modern, but also to retain a warm, familial feeling, preserving the original features where appropriate. ‘We’ve used a warm colour palette with natural materials and embellished stone,’ she explains. The moon rock stone worktops in the kitchen are striking.
‘At the same time, we’ve respected the Victorian aspects of the property by maintaining the cornicing and the fireplaces, while not creating a pastiche in the modern kitchen extension and basement.’ Other features include an integrated Sonos system, Gaggenau appliances, Element 7 flooring, Forbes and Lomax lighting controls and a stunning Wine Genie thermostatically controlled wine cellar.
The property is not open-plan in the run-of-the-mill sense. ‘We’ve tried to open up the space so it connects, so it’s not strictly open-plan, but we’ve more than doubled the original square footage. We placed the stairs through the middle of the house, which means light can filter down into the basement.’
In order to separate rooms, but at the same time to ensure an easy flow between spaces, Cowen has used a lot of glass. ‘Timber framed glass walls allowed us to divide the house, without it being cellular. It’s much more conducive to family living. We love the fact that when you’re sitting in the family room downstairs you can see through the glass-walled, Crittal-style study all the way up.
‘Floor to ceiling height is really important to the basement. In the basement we’ve used a modern take on panelling on the walls to make sure it doesn’t feel like a box underground. We’ve tried to keep to clean lines, and there’s plenty of storage and space.’
Timber framed glass walls allowed us to divide the house, without it being cellular
When it comes to design trends more generally, Cowen feels that Londoners are becoming more open to being creative with the floor plan. ‘People are looking to do something that differs from the standard formula that’s been rolled out over the past few years,’ she reveals. ‘They’re re-imagining how properties work, and looking for new solutions to make a property feel wider. In a lot of houses these days, there are slightly redundant front rooms that no-one uses. I would say that the English used to be quite traditional, but now they’re looking at options that are a bit more cutting edge.’
Beltran Road is on the market for an asking price of £2,650,000; knightfrank.com