Compact living has never felt so spacious; enter Mews House, a two-bedroom home on a cobbled little street in Highgate, North London. Using a subtle palette of materials, architect Russell Jones has transformed a garage and overgrown garden in a recently regenerated area into a serene haven for modern living.
Working with a fairly constrained site of 90 sq m, backing onto a red brick terrace, Jones says he was fortunate to have a client who allowed 'a relatively free hand to maximise the accommodation and develop a sensible approach to the design and construction of the project'.
The architect used several clever techniques to make the most of what was available. The ash-coloured Wienerberger Marziale brick helps lift the interior, creating a bright environment that encourages light to reach deep into the mews building. Extra luminosity was achieved by using a Scandinavian brick surface smoothening technique called 'sækkeskuring', which Jones chose 'as a way of creating a more monolithic architecture, without losing the identity of each and every brick.'
The same material continues inside, complemented by neutral concrete floor tiling that flows seamlessly between the ground floor open plan kitchen, living and dinning interior and the external courtyard. Continuous lines and light-coloured, earthy tones create a sense of spaciousness, reflecting the natural sunlight brought in through floor-to-ceiling windows on the ground level, as well as tactically placed dormer and skylights upstairs. The upper floor hosts the two bedrooms and a bathroom.
While relatively small, this home has plenty of personality. A floating staircase of light oil-finished Douglas Fir creates a focal point for the minimalist, open plan living space. Practical elements are harmonised with the overall aesthetic, highlighting Jones’s attention to detail. Examples include external storage for bikes and recycling, built-in storage in the bedrooms and niches in the courtyard wall for plants and candles.
'The house was designed for those living there to feel safe, sheltered, aware of the weather around them and for all to see the material and tectonic qualities that make this little home special', says Jones. The result? A city dweller’s perfect bolthole.