Hello yellow: Russian For Fish breathes new life into a London terrace duplex

Apartment with yellow stairways and kitchen
Russian For Fish has completed a bold renovation project on the lower-ground floor of a Victorian terrace in London.
(Image credit: Peter Landers)

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.

Living room into a yellow stairway

The living room, into which the yellow stairway and kitchen lead.

(Image credit: 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.

yellow kitchen

The wide galley-style kitchen is painted entirely yellow 

(Image credit: TBC)

Yellow kitchen units

LED lighting beneath the kitchen cupboards further illuminates the colour

(Image credit: TBC)

Yellow painted stairways

Yellow paint coats the entire stairway

(Image credit: TBC)

Yellow pillar in a house

The architects took references from commercial and gallery spaces, as opposed to residential interiors, for the design of the rooms

(Image credit: TBC)

Hallway with a glass door and a large plant

A skylight over the corridor leading out to the back of the house

(Image credit: TBC)

Green plant with a yellow wall

The yellow creates a warm contrast with the polished concrete 

(Image credit: TBC)


The rest of the house design features more neutral colours and soft lighting

(Image credit: TBC)

Contemporary living room

The design is complemented by the client’s mid-century-style furniture

(Image credit: TBC)

Bedroom with a double bed

The bedroom space on the upper level of the duplex apartment

(Image credit: TBC)


For more information, visit the Russian For Fish website