A pair of adjacent houses on West London's Kensington Court Mews formed the striking backdrop to our 'Bright Boys' shoot in the September issue. Recently overhauled by Groves Natcheva Architects, the residences were created for Adriana Natcheva – who heads up the London-based architecture practice with Murray Groves – and her brother, Parashkev Nachev, with equal attention to detail but dramatically different styles.
Natcheva's house is lighter in colour and slightly larger, extending under the level of her brother’s property. The open-plan living area on the ground floor includes a kitchen, dining area, seating, office and library in one space. Sleek lacquered sliding doors can hide or reveal areas of the house according to the owner's needs, transforming the room from a formal dining room to a walk-in wardrobe. A cosy, low-ceiling bedroom on the mezzanine level hangs over the main living area, overlooking it but at the same time remaining protected from its view.
In contrast, her sibling's marginally smaller house features darker, green-black hues and a more traditional separation of spaces. The front living room takes the visitor through to a kitchenette with a breakfast bar for two, while a staircase leads to the upper level that includes a bedroom and bathroom.
‘I look for beauty - unfashionable though that word now is - which for me is to be found in continuity with the human form’, explains Natcheva. ‘When it comes to private projects the beauty has to be found in the identity of the inhabitant; this is what informs the texture of materials, the shape of objects, the scale of space, and the drama of light. We try to build a human portrait out of bricks and mortar - a portrait, which is a record of a sensibility as well as a platform for a life. Like a stage, it must set the right tone but stay in the background.’
In keeping with the architects’ passion for detail, both houses showcase meticulously designed fittings in carefully selected high-quality materials like ebony, dark ash and rare nero portoro marble. Furniture includes antiques - such as vintage Carlo Scarpa - and custom pieces, which the architects created via Natcheva's recently launched creative design platform, Milk & Steel, in collaboration with her brother and DJ, composer and art director Alice Orpheus.
The two houses may be small in scale, but Groves Natcheva Architects have certainly maximised the properties' miniature size.