Period meets contemporary in a stunning transformation of this home on Englefield Road, Islington

Sitting in Nicole Bremner’s five bedroom luxury property on Islington’s popular Englefield Road, which has been her home for nearly two years (having been a local to the area for six), I ask the question about how much she has changed since moving in. ‘In a nutshell,’ she smiles, ‘a lot! When the house was purchased it was four dingy bedsits in dire need of love. We did a full refurbishment of the entire property.’

History and technology combine in Islington home on Englefield Road

The rear of the property required the most work

It explains why Amrita Mahindroo – architect, interior designer and stylist of the property – joins us for the interview as there’s plenty to get through. ‘We went through a full planning process to create the rear extension and add a Mansard roof,’ Amrita begins to take me through all the changes. ‘We completely gutted the interior of the house and then completely restored its original period features including fireplaces, the beautiful period staircase and the stunning windows, which are all completely new to match the existing fabric of the house. We also added a series of contemporary living spaces, and kitted the house with all the comforts of modern living. The objective was to create a seamless transition between the period front and the contemporary rear, which we did using a strong colour palette, using a gradient effect of darker colours for period rooms to bright whites in contemporary spaces.’

Colour, indeed, was a stand out feature on my first viewing. ‘It was fundamental for the project,’ Amrita nods. ‘We decided to really accentuate the windows and period woodwork on the staircase by using a strong black for the windows against the white walls. We also used a gradient of greys from the very strong dark Moles Breath (Farrow & Ball) in the period living room to a warmer Purbeck Stone (also Farrow & Ball) in the dining room and a progression to the bright white in the contemporary living space. The palette is very confident and helps define the individual character of the rooms.’

History and technology combine in Islington home on Englefield Road

The colour palette plays a key role throughout the property

What was the biggest challenge Amrita encountered? ‘Modifying the rear façade, which had suffered a series of adhoc extensions in the past and was a complete mess,’ she answers. ‘We needed to create something that was respectful of the composition of windows of the original building fabric, but also something that had its own character and created a light and airy living space for the kitchen and the ground floor living room. We chose to create a large plate glass window that is 3m tall and 3m wide, which provides expansive views into the rear garden and yet creates a centrality to the upper ground living space that is really the running thread in the house – to be expansive and intimate at the same time.’

There’s plenty throughout the home that catches the eye and Amrita was the brains behind the accessories and art you see in each room. ‘The furniture was a selection of classic mid-century modern pieces such as the beautiful Hans J Wegner Wishbone dining chairs, with key contemporary design pieces including the Hai Chair and Footstool by Luca Nichetto for Hem and the Bluedot Coffee Table,’ Amrita says. ‘In general we were looking for a contemporary aesthetic that emphasised the sophistication of the house whilst being comfortable. Each piece was selected for each individual room. A lot of the joinery is built in, so the furniture and the accessories were really about selecting key statement pieces that continue the story of the house.’

History and technology combine in Islington home on Englefield Road

The bathrooms showcase a contemporary spin on a classic material

The mix of period and contemporary is seamlessly achieved, from the aforementioned windows and wonderful wooden flooring – ‘The beautiful herringbone floors in natural oak are definitely a key feature of the house, bringing a warmth to the house and creating a beautiful continuity to the space,’ Amrita says on the latter – to the ‘smart’ home in the form of technological wizardry and the marble-clad bathrooms. ‘We wanted something that was a contemporary spin on a classic material,’ Amrita says on the latter, ‘so went for the beautiful carrara marble tiles in the brick format for secondary bathrooms, and as a large slab and mosaic tiles for the master bathroom. The marble adds a definite layer of luxury and an aesthetic that isn’t stuck in fads and trends, so will age beautifully with the house.’

In summary, Amrita directs my attention to the five bedrooms. ‘Those, and especially the master bedroom, really encompass the aesthetic of the house generally,’ she explains, ‘which is really all about the co-existence of the classic and the contemporary. The space is ample, yet intimate. The wardrobe and bed joinery create zones for sleeping, dressing, and reading. There are a series of intimate spaces in effectively a larger space.’ And, for Nicole, what aspect has she enjoyed most since the completion of the transformation? ‘That’s definitely the transition of the upper ground living spaces, where you really see the house morph from one type of aesthetic to another,’ she smiles. ‘It is very unique.’

Words: Mark Kebble

The property on Englefield Road, N1, is on the market with Foxtons Islington for £3,250,000 freehold. Find out more by calling 020 7704 5000 or visiting foxtons.co.uk