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COMBINING PERIOD CHARM & MODERN ARCHITECTURE

This period home in Blackheath gets a thoroughly modern makeover – with a double-height family room, mezzanine level kitchen and Japanese sliding doors – courtesy of Forest Hill-based architects Nimtim

Words: Trish Lesslie

Viewed from the pavement, The Slot House in Blackheath appears just like any other spruced-up semi. But behind the buffed golden brick façade, a dramatic reconfiguration fuses striking modern twists with the elegant Georgian features of this five-bedroom, four-storey home, incorporating plenty of space, light and period charm.

Rachel and Jonathan Slater instantly fell for the property’s generous proportions and period touches – including a grand entrance hall, sweeping staircase, fireplaces and cornices – when they first viewed it two years ago. But although the couple could see the house as the perfect home for their young family, they felt the layout of the lower ground floor left a lot to be desired.

‘When you walked downstairs you stepped into a dark corridor with no natural light and the rooms off it were small and impractical for a family home,’ explains Rachel, who later discovered that the house and its neighbour had formerly been used as halls of residence by Goldsmiths College, the corridor in the lower ground floor having once connected the two properties.

Convinced a rear extension would rectify the layout dilemma, following a quick internet search for local architects, Rachel invited Forest Hill-based Nimtim to view. ‘As soon as they came to see the house I knew they were right for the project,’ says Rachel of husband and wife team, Nimi Attanayake and Tim O’Callaghan. ‘I could see they loved the house and understood what we were trying to achieve.’

Nimtim devised a plan to remove the unnecessary hallways and corridors on the lower ground floor, unlocking space to create a family room. The existing stairs were adapted and extended into a practical and stylish window bench in dark timber, which doubles up as a storage space for the two junior Slaters’ toys. New sliding doors at the rear make the most of large existing openings, while limestone floor tiles extending out into a sizeable stretch of the large garden bring a sense of unity between the indoor and outdoor spaces.

The kitchen was removed and relocated to the upper ground floor. In its place is an expansive family room with double-height ceilings 

With 12 square metres liberated on the lower ground floor, the kitchen – a space the Slaters felt was too cramped given the proportions of the rest of the house – was removed and relocated to the upper ground floor. In its place is an expansive family room with double-height ceilings at one end. At the other end, the interior walls of the upper ground floor were replaced with glass balustrades, effectively creating a mezzanine-level kitchen. The new configuration brings a sense of connection between the lower two levels and allows more light to flood in.

The creation of the double-height area also allowed for the installation of perhaps the house’s most arresting feature – a slot window over six metres in height that gives the building its new moniker. Granting better visual connection onto the garden, this whopping piece of glass also creates a striking focal point for the lower two floors of the house.

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Relocated to the back of the double-aspect upper ground floor room, the kitchen was designed by Roundhouse Kitchens, Taking into account the period character of the room, the oven and hob are set into a recess in the chimney breast, while appliances are integrated into Shaker style cupboards in the alcoves.

The stylish island, made of quartz and wenge – a sustainable tropical hardwood similar to walnut – houses the sink and provides extra storage in the form of roomy drawers beneath the work surface. Subtle pendant lights hang above, contemporary touches that, together with the column radiator and glass balustrade overlooking the family room, complement the original features and proportions of the house.

Bespoke Japanese sliding screens lead to the spectacular marble-clad bathroom with a sunken bath, walk-in shower and large sash windows overlooking the garden

Moving up the steep, curved staircase, complete with original mahogany banister and painted ironwork, the master suite takes up the lion’s share of the first floor, which also hosts a guest bedroom and bathroom. Simply decorated and furnished to restful effect, the master bedroom has a sunken deep pile carpet around the bed giving way to a European oak parquet floor that runs through the entire suite.

Bespoke Japanese sliding screens, made with traditional rice paper, connect to a newly-created dressing room fitted with dark-walnut veneered wardrobes and shelves. An identical set of sliding doors leads to the spectacular marble-clad bathroom with a sunken bath and walk-in shower and large sash windows overlooking the garden.

The top floor of the house remained untouched during the building works, allowing the family to live in the property throughout the five-month renovation process. ‘We wanted to make changes without altering the existing character of the house and get everything done as quickly as possible as I
was expecting our second baby at the time,’ explains Rachel.

Mission, as they say, accomplished.

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