Polished concrete and buckets of sunny paint have helped give the lower-ground floor of a north London flat a new confidence. The lower reaches of the Victorian terrace duplex in Stoke Newington were suffering an inferiority complex. While the upper-ground floor was all period features and high ceilings, the floor below was a muddle of small, cramped rooms and corridors.

London design consultancy Russian For Fish (which is pronounced ‘riba’, a neat pun), reconfigured the 74 sq m space by taking down a wall between the hall and the corridor, and replacing a WC with a shower and utility room. In addition, an existing side return extension now has a roof light.

The living room, into which the yellow stairway and kitchen lead. Photography: Peter Landers

They then got to work on the aesthetic. The client was after a minimal, industrial look, so ‘we took references from commercial and gallery spaces, as opposed to residential interiors’, says RFF founder Pereen d’Avoine. ‘Not only to create the contrast with the upper-ground floor, but to allow for the client’s furniture to breathe.’ Hence the polished, light-toned concrete, which was used for the floor and the living room wall.

In contrast, the walls, ceiling and units of the galley-style kitchen and the stairwell have been coated in a vibrant yellow, which ‘not only brightens the space, but highlights the warmer tones of the natural concrete floor’, adds d’Avoine, who runs the business with co-director Nilesh Shah. What’s more, the owner intended to fill the place with houseplants, ‘so the yellow was a natural continuation of the colour range. The grey and yellow will harmonise with the greens, creating an ever-changing colourful landscape.’

The flat is typical of RFF’s work: making the capital’s small homes function better for their inhabitants. It now has three reception rooms, which act as a fitting backdrop to some very smart mid-century and contemporary furniture.

RELATED TOPICS: RESIDENTIAL ARCHITECTURE, LONDON ARCHITECTURE, ARCHITECTURAL RENOVATION