In a Chelsea artists’ enclave sits a home of transparent quality

  • By Bertie Russell
  • 03 September 2019

Augustus John, Sir William Rothenstein and Winifred Nicholson all worked in Glebe Place, their former homes commemorated, among others, in a veritable cluster of blue plaques. Charles Rennie Mackintosh once lived at Number 49.

Today, acclaimed wildlife photographer David Yarrow has his studio here, right next door to the home I’m visiting today — which must be the only residence in the street without an obvious number on its glossy blue front door.

From the front of the property, with its historic, white façade and original windows, it strongly resembles its neighbours. Inside, however, Number 66 is dramatically different from anything else in the street.

A recent and lavish refit by architect Rodic Davidson has given it a pitched, glazed glass roof, leafy roof terrace, raw concrete walls, a profusion of skylights and a futuristic glass walkway, which stretches above a part of the downstairs living room to link the two bedrooms upstairs. Genius.

It’s a modern masterpiece which has so much glass, it feels rather like a house without walls — quite an achievement for a property close to the hustle of King’s Road. Only the glimpse of chimney pots through one of the skylights reminds you that the fictional Mary Poppins lived a stone’s throw away from here.

The imposing entrance leads into an utterly modern home with a study (or library, or even third bedroom) at the front. This is not a house shy of its triumphs, and a huge industrial-style glazed wall of glass takes up most of the fourth wall here to reveal the contemporary design within.

There are polished concrete floors, niches for books and artefacts and loads of storage (including the utilities) tucked behind full-length cupboards.

At the heart of the house is the enormous double-height, pitched glazed roof, which from the roof terrace above resembles the pyramid at the Louvre.

In the living room, there are two contemporary fireplaces, acres of glass and walls with warm but light grey and blue hues. The back wall, behind the glass staircase, features glass shelving backlit with LED lighting.

Crittall-style glass sliding doors divide the living room from the kitchen and dining room at the rear of the ground floor, where appliances are tucked away out of sight, bar the wine fridge, which holds around 150 bottles and has an LED lighting strip which transforms it into something of an art feature.

A natural oak dining room table is subtly illuminated in hues of soft pinks and greens by a Louis Poulsen pendant light. The back of the house is also almost completely glass, looking into a leafy courtyard with a concrete table made for al-fresco dining. Mature trees add privacy to an area which would else be overlooked. Speaking of which, upstairs in the master bedroom, there’s a wall of glass overlooking the living room below (electronically controlled blinds can be lowered for privacy), a wall of mirrored wardrobes and a skylight. Another wall features wardrobes covered in soft textiles, while a door leads to the spiral staircase which accesses the roof terrace. The en-suite bathroom has a stand-alone, egg-shaped bath.

Across the glass walkway (you quickly get used to it), the second bedroom, with another skylight, is dressed in pretty pale pinks and greens. Even the en-suite bathroom has grey tiles accented by the palest pink tiles in the walk-in shower.

Indoor plants add subtle warmth to this brilliantly brutalist architecture while two David Yarrow prints — an enormous elephant and a charging rhino — inject drama and movement. This is a house that screams rather than whispers its style, but somehow loses nothing by the yelling.

■ 1,731sq ft two-bedroom, two-bathroom, architect-designed home

■ A minute’s walk from the amenities of the King’s Road

■ In a historic street made famous by artists such as Augustus John, Sir William Rothenstein and Winifred Nicolson

■ Fabulous and distinctive features, such as a transparent glass walkway above the living room which links the two bedrooms

■ Private courtyard

■ Stunning roof terrace

See the full Russell Simpson property details here.

Read the original article here.


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