‘We embraced colour in our mid-century kitchen’ – Jen Taylor (Ideal Home)

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Photography: Bruce Hemming

Jen Taylor and Hari Phillips reconfigured their ground-floor to create a colourful and yet sophisticated family kitchen, perfect for their 1960s Dulwich home.

What it cost
Appliances: £3,500
Lighting: £2,025
Kitchen and storage units: £24,000
Tiles: £1,150
Windows and doors: £7,500
Labour: (incl. decoration & services) £42,000
Underfloor heating: £4,000
Flooring: £3,350
Total: £87,525

Who lives here
Jen Taylor, a designer, her husband Hari Phillips, an architect [married September 2005] and their sons, Dylan, 11 [DOB: 29.07.08] and Teddy, three. [DOB: 05.10.16].

What they did
Reconfigured their ground floor, turning an internal garage, bedroom, WC and corridor into a utility room,shower room and open-plan kitchen diner with access to the garden.

The look
A warm, playful take on mid-century modern with grown-up luxe details.

Lessons learned
“Be brave. I bottled it in our previous flat and it all ended up very monochromatic. I was determined to embrace colour and pattern this time.”
“Buy well and buy once. Having compromised before, we invested in good quality units, custom joinery and bespoke finishes, which has made all the difference.”

The layout
Jen and Hari removed all the internal walls and opened up the staircase to create one large, open-plan kitchen-diner with access to the garden. The garage door had to remain due to restrictions from the Dulwich Estate Scheme of Management, so they boxed this in with storage and added a shower room and a utility room, lining the kitchen-facing wall with floor-to-ceiling cupboards.

When designer Jen Taylor and husband Hari Phillips bought this three-storey property in South London, they were seduced by its mid-century charm, but knew that the ground floor wouldn’t work. “When you came in, you couldn’t see any light at all,” explains Jen. “A long, dark corridor ran from the front door, alongside a garage, to a bedroom, through which was the only access to the garden.”

Dulwich Estate heritage rules protect the garage door, but say nothing about the garage itself, so Jen had that removed, along with the other internal walls and a false ceiling, creating one open space. By knocking out the back wall and replacing it with two single glass doors and a huge pivoting window, and painting the newly exposed ceiling and beams white, she transformed the space, filling it with natural light.

Stealing back part of the space the garage had previously occupied for a utility room and a shower room – and cladding the outside of the new walls with floor-to-ceiling storage – enabled Jen to keep the rest of the space clean and open. She chose a colourful mid-century colour palette, complete with playful touches such as Barber Osgerby’s Puzzle tiles and the Alphabeta pendants by Luca Nichetto for Hem, and grown-up luxe details such as the brass door handles and sink. A bright yellow shower room brightens the only remaining dark corner of the space. Jen surrounded her existing dining table with chairs, a bench and a window seat to create a more sociable version of the typical kitchen island. “This space is perfect for us now,” she says. “It is always filled with food, friends and family – all my favourite things. And it has even made a gardener out of me.”

HOW WE DID IT

“As soon as we saw the house, we knew we would move the kitchen. Hari is an architect and I used to be, so we did the drawings and hired a contractor. We ripped out the walls and ceiling – carefully because they had asbestos. We knocked out the back wall and moved the drainage. Then the shower room and utility room walls went in, and we had the kitchen, shower room and underfloor heating fitted. We had hoped to be in by Christmas, but the windows were delayed, so by mid-December, we had a beautiful kitchen, but a gaping hole out into the garden! And then it snowed, so it was February by the time we finished. But it was worth it, and honestly, I enjoyed every minute.”

Having stuck to muted greys and blues in their previous home, Jen was determined to inject more colour into this space. “We knew we wanted a mid-century colour palette,” she says. “We loved the wood tone of our existing sideboard, and I wanted some gold, so that was the starting point.” Jen initially thought the yellow floor would be a hard sell, and this proved to be the case with friends, but Hari surprised her by agreeing to go all in. Finding the perfect shade wasn’t easy, but ‘Noraplan Uni’ rubber flooring, £36 per m2, Forbo Flooring, ticked all the boxes – its warm and sunny hue is backed up with impressive eco-credentials as it is made from natural and recycled materials.

Continuing the playful theme, Barber Osgerby’s Puzzle tiles in the Murano colourway, £142.50 per m2, Tile Expert, provided a punchy design with a soft take on a mid-century colour scheme. The Alphabeta Pendant Trio by Luca Nichetto, £1,136, hem.com comes in 1024 combinations comprising different shapes and colours, and Jen’s selection looks as if it was made for this kitchen. She wanted a dining table rather than an island to provide somewhere for the whole family to congregate for everything from her famed Chinese meals to homework and a simple supper. The Habitat dining table and bench came from their last home (for similar, try the Hopkins Table, £450, Habitat, and the Hopkins Dining Bench, £195, Habitat), and they found the Danish-style dining chairs, £150 each, on eBay.

The 1950s Mackintosh sideboard, £250, eBay, was one of the inspirations for the scheme and Jen has placed a few carefully selected pieces on top. “We found out the artist Reuben Powell had been hired to document the demolition of the Heygate Estate in Elephant and Castle,” she explains. “This was actually an offprint and should have been black and white. It came from our last flat, but we realized the tones were perfect for in here”. Atop the sideboard is the New Old Table Lamp by Kimu, £359, Darklightdesign.com and gold plant pot to add some ‘bling’ and complement the gold accents in the kitchen. For similar, try the Beaumont Plant Pot, £14, Made.com.

To create a high-end finish on a budget, Jen and Hari chose Howdens for a good quality kitchen carcasses (from £125 for a 60cm unit, Howdens) and then commissioned HUX London to make bespoke cabinet and drawer fronts in a warm yet contemporary cherry-veneered MDF (£250 per unit front, HUX London), finished off with brass Skyscraper T-Bar handles, £13.99, Dowsing and Reynolds. Top cabinets, which conceal an extractor hood above the oven, were factory spray-painted and colour-matched to Farrow & Balls’ Pink Ground, £69 per 2.5l, diy.com to complement the tiles.

The brass Alveus Monarch Quadrix sink, £875.22, and Insinkerator 3-in-1 mixer tap, £999, both olif.co.uk, tie in with the brass handles, while the clever Zova Dish Drainer, £46.99, Amazon.co.uk, protects the work surfaces.

The subtle colour of the Fenix work surfaces, £350 per linear metre, HUX London, complements the mid-century palette and works beautifully with the SkyScraper T Bar cupboard door handles, £13.99, Dowsing and Reynolds.

Jen clad her floor-to-ceiling storage in the same cherry veneer as the kitchen doors to create a sense of continuity and used clever fixtures to optimise the storage space inside. The first, which Jen calls her ‘drinks and spice’ cabinet, houses all of this keen cook’s herbs, spices and cocktail ingredients… handy to have within arms’ reach when she is cooking up a storm at the multi burner Rangemaster cooker.

Bucking the trend for ubiquitous bi-fold doors, Jen and Hari instead opted for a huge pivoting window above a long storage-filled window seat and a glazed door either side. “I hate bi-folds with a vengeance – they are just so ugly,” laughs Jen. “This solution was challenging to get right, but absolutely worth it in the end. Having separate doors as well as a window to open the kitchen right up to the garden is much more flexible, the window seat makes this space so sociable, and it’s just so lovely to sit here with a cup of tea or a glass of wine and bathe in the sunlight all year round.” Try Maxlight Pivot Doors, £12,000 for a window and two doors, Maxlight, for similar.

The Rangemaster was Jen’s must-have item – she loves cooking traditional Chinese meals for her family and friends, for which multiple gas hobs are vital. “I can’t imagine cooking without it now,” she says. “In Chinese, there is a saying that wok air is created by using gas for cooking, so I just had to have one.” For similar, try the Rangemaster Classic 100cm Duel Fuel in Cream, £1,814.95, Stovesareus.co.uk.

A clever ‘backflip’ socket, £118.64, Evoline provides power to Jens’ Kitchen Aid in Majestic Yellow, £499, Kitchenaid.co.uk ­­– a fortieth birthday present from her closest friends. A sugar bowl from Jen’s own English Breakfast collection, £45 for the tea set, hokolo.com, a ceramic storage jar in sunny yellow (try Kahala, £12, Habitat for similar) and colourful plastic measuring spoons (try KitchenCraft Colourworks 5-Piece Measuring Spoon Set, £3.55, amazon.co.uk for similar) add a touch of kitsch.

Opening up the original staircase and positioning a mirror (for similar try Stockholm, £75, IKEA) at right angles to a window next to the front door bounces natural light into the new open plan space. To make the most of the space underneath the stairs, Jen installed a clever fold-down wall-mounted desk, TWOFOLD wall desk by Michael Hilgers, £350, Müller Möbelwerkstätten and paired it with a white Eames DSW Chair, £375, Heal’s. Also tucked in here is a mid-century Ercol telephone seat, £99, eBay, which Jen had sprayed white to tone in with the desk, chair and stairs.

Storage is crucial in an open-plan space, and Jen opted for cleverly concealed storage in the hallway opposite the staircase to remove all the usual clutter such as coats, bags and shoes. Continuing the cherry veneer from the kitchen cupboards ensures a seamless look and feel.

Heritage planning restrictions on the Dulwich Estate meant the external garage door had to be kept, despite removing the garage. Jen and Hari bricked it up from the inside and lined it with floor-to-ceiling storage within a handy utility room and adjoining shower room. Again, they turned to Howdens for the storage solutions, Greenwich Super Matt, £215 per 60cm unit. Yellow grouting and a playful ‘Hello’ coat hook (try Hello Coat Rack, £38, Block Design for similar) echo the floor colour, which continues into the shower room.

Hari’s boldness with colour surprised Jen again when it came to the shower room. “I was originally only planning one yellow wall and the rest was going to be white, but Hari wanted all yellow,” she says. “I was quite shocked, but colour blocking is a strong trend at the moment and Hari felt there was no point doing little bits in an already small space. I think it really works.” For similar tiles, try Marvel Lemon Zest and White wall tiles, £22.95 per m2, wallsandfloors.co.uk. Choosing a contemporary sink and vanity by Kartell for Laufen, £561.17, Banyo, Jen again turned to Olif to find the perfect tap – the Mimo sink mixer by Palazzani was £187.

This three-storey family home is perfect for Jen and Hari’s growing family – all it needed was a clever reconfiguration, a little colour and some mid-century character.

To visit Jen’s online shop Hokolo, please click here.

2020 Vision (Monocle 24)

In January 2020, Katie Treggiden was invited into the Monocle24 studio to share some of the big ideas helping to shape 2020. From purpose-driven retail, to the pre-loved and circular economy, encompassing diversity, inclusion and representation, Katie discusses those brands that are moving towards a more environmentally responsible and inclusive way of designing and consuming design.

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You can listen to the episode here.

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Camille Walala Brings Local Mauritian Color to SALT of Palmar Hotel (Design Milk)

Recently named one of Time Magazine’s ‘Greatest Places’ and a Mr & Mrs Smith ‘Local Hotel Hero’, the SALT of Palmar hotel on the east coast of Mauritius was originally created in 2005 by renowned Mauritian architect Maurice Giraud and has been given a blast of local color inside and out by London-based French artist Camille Walala, with a new interior scheme that runs through the hotel’s 59 rooms and public areas.

Walala, and long-standing collaborator Julia Jomaa, worked closely with Mauritian architect John-François Adams to realize a vision for the dramatic geometric building inspired by both the natural landscape and the man-made environment of the surrounding island. “I was blown away with how many vibrant and bold colors you find around the island,” said Walala. “People paint their houses in the most amazing tones that really stand out against the lush tropical setting. From the emerald green of the plants to the ever-changing colors of the sky, I wanted to marry these warm natural tones to my signature pop colors.”

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Described by Time Magazine as “eye-popping Instagram bait”, SALT of Palmar’s beauty is more than screen-deep. The hotel was conceived to champion sustainability, connect with the local community, and introduce culturally curious travellers to the real Mauritius. “This isn’t a hotel that begrudgingly makes concessions to the environment,” said the Mr & Mrs Smith judging panel. “Salt of Palmar literally exists to serve the community and reduce the carbon footprint of the area. And it does so creatively and with tonnes of style, from the beach baskets made of recycled flotsam to the guidebook of the island, written by a team of talented locals.” The hotel has also eliminated all food waste and single-use plastics and sources food for the on-site restaurant from a bio-farm.

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Walala was invited to reimagine SALT’s interiors following her work at LUX* Grand Gaube, for which she created a spectacular mural for the resort’s Beach Rouge beach club, but this is her first architectural collaboration. Despite this, she was the obvious choice for The Lux Collective CEO and SALT creator Paul Jones. “Camille Walala’s relationship with color is precisely the same as most Mauritians,” he explains. “For both, color is a vehicle for joy and a means of expressing positivity. She is the ideal artist for SALT of Palmar; I must have been in the hotel 100 times as it developed over the last few months but, every time I see them, her designs make me smile.”

With such a natural fit, Walala might have been forgiven for resting on her laurels, but she and Jomaa still did their homework – exploring the island’s food, culture, and neighborhoods to get a real sense of the Mauritian aesthetic so she could weave that into the fabric of her interiors, helping guests to forge a meaningful connection with their surroundings. “I really wanted to bring what we saw on the road back to the hotel,” she says.

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This approach included recruiting local craftspeople to design bespoke pieces for the project, including basket weaver Reotee Buleeram, potter Janine Espitalier-Noel, and father-and-son rattan artisans Mawlabaccus and Said Moosbally.

The geography of the island precluded the sourcing of many of Walala’s go-to material choices. “Mauritius is a remote country, and although the selection of products and materials is wide, I had to think of many alternatives to things that I would have loved to use in the styling and build,” she explains. “Because SALT is by the sea and under a strong sun, we had to work with materials which could not be damaged by wind, heat, water, or light. However, I did grow to enjoy the challenge of finding alternatives in the local area – that, after all, is what the SALT philosophy is all about.”

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What: SALT of Palmar Hotel
Where: SALT of Palmar Coastal Road, Palmar 41604, Mauritius
How much: From $195
Highlights: The black and white striped fountain at the riad-style heart of the hotel.
Design draw: Head South to explore the most unspoiled part of Mauritius and don’t miss The World of Seashells Museum, home to Eric Le Court’s personal collection of over 8000 shells collected on the island.
Book it: SALT of Palmar Hotel

Photography: Tekla Evelina Severin

The Conran Shop Turns Seoul Carpark Into Retail Environment for the Modern Age (Design Milk)

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46 years after opening its first doors on London’s Fulham Road in 1973, The Conran Shop has opened its 12th global location in the thriving Gangnam area of South Korea’s capital city. According to creative director Stephen Briars, the new Seoul store is “a retail environment for the modern age.”

Rivaling the London flagship for size, the Seoul store occupies what was once a multi-story car park, now transformed into a dramatic two-story, 24,000 square foot retail emporium – a standalone space connected to Gangnam’s Lotte Department Store. The brand’s arrival in Korea introduces the world’s fourth-largest city in terms of GDP to Conran’s approach to design, as well as directly exposing Conran to contemporary Korean culture in what promises to be a dynamic and productive dialogue. We spoke to creative director Stephen Briars to find out more.

Why did you pick this city/neighborhood/storefront?
Our partner offered us the space and we loved it for its simple rectangular format and spaciousness. Compared to many heritage buildings it is relatively free of columns and obstructions and affords great sightlines across the floors. Interestingly, it was designed as a car park when the adjacent department store opened some years ago, then later the ground and first floor were converted to retail spaces. The neighborhood is modern and the most affluent area in Seoul.

Where did you get the name for the store?
The Conran Shop is named after its founder, Sir Terence Conran, a British name that has become synonymous with design around the world. Terence had already established the Habitat brand, but wanted a store which housed the best and most iconic design pieces and brands in the world. And by design, he meant any design – great design can cost anything from £1 to £10,000.

Has it changed much since it opened? How?
At the time of writing, our store in Seoul has only been open for about a week, so not yet! But the concept of this new store was to create a ‘blank canvas’. Rather than being overt in its materiality, the space is refined and sparing with elegant use of glass and steel. It was conceived with seasonal change in mind and open to new layers which will be applied by our own creative team as well as guest collaborations. An example of the latter is the artist and illustrator John Booth, who worked a 15-meter mural into our opening scenario.

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What’s one of the challenges you have with the business?
This is our first store in Korea. Apart from the UK and France, we also have six stores in Japan where the brand celebrated its 25th anniversary this year so there’s a ripple of awareness of the brand in that part of the world. The Seoul store opened with limited awareness of the Conran brand, which is a huge opportunity. We wanted to design it as the best design store in the world, rather than as Conran store number twelve.

What other stores have you worked in before opening this one?
I’ve worked on many store openings throughout my career for brands such as Paul Smith, Louis Vuitton, and Urban Outfitters. I’ve lost count, to be honest, but most recently, just a month before our launch in Korea, we relocated, and doubled the size of our store in Selfridges, London which was really amazing.

What’s your favorite item in the Korea store right now?
My favorite item is the one that seems to create the most ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ among customers as we are walking them through the new space. It’s not a new item per se, but if you haven’t seen it before it makes you stop and stare – it’s quite simply a light that opens like a book, by a brand called Lumio. Without exception, on opening the book in front of our new Korean customers, the glow of warm light illuminating my face had them super excited. With the walls of the lighting room in Seoul being steel, and having already wowed them with the light, tapping it onto the steel wall and demonstrating its magnetic cover made them open-mouthed.

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What is this season’s theme/inspiration/story?
We don’t tend to work with themes as such, it feels like an old-fashioned conceit and can push you down a dead-end. Instead, we focus on the story of the brand and our ever-changing product edit. We source products from all around the world to ensure our customers are presented with a carefully curated collection at all times, and that is a big part of our story. The product offering changes with each season and is dictated by good design, rather than a particular pattern or color trend.

Are you carrying any new products and/or undiscovered gems you’re particularly excited about?
Wherever there is a Conran Shop, the edit is different. Our stores have a core offer that then differs from city to city depending on local trends and appreciation. The current collection in The Conran Shop in Seoul is close to the one currently in our London stores. It’s a British brand in a new market so we felt it was important to start by evoking the spirit of the brand. Throughout this year, the offer will evolve based on success and demand – for example, we’ll look at curating a Korean edit of great design for the store which will then hopefully launch in the UK and France as a story in the second half of the year.

What’s been a consistent best seller?
It’s too early to tell, but early indicators suggest that the design classics will prevail, by designers such as Eames, Saarinen, and Wegner.

Does the store have its own line? If not, any plans for it in the future?
Yes, we have an extensive assortment of Conran brand designs, including furniture, lighting, textiles, dinnerware, and decorative accessories. The ‘Conran’ range is a big focus for us as a brand and is growing by the season. Each piece is designed in-house or in collaboration with eminent designers. Some recent collaborations have been with Knoll, Carl Hansen & Søn, and Samuel Wilkinson.

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Any special events/exhibits/pop ups/collaborations coming up?
My next visit to Seoul will be in the coming months, so we’ll get the ball rolling on this then – watch this space…

Do you have anything from the store in your own home?
I do, I have furniture from Carl Hansen & Søn and Vitra. I have Castiglioni’s beautiful Snoopy light and the surreal alabaster Babel light from Santa & Cole. Amongst other pieces, I have also built an entire army of Studio Arhoj’s Famiglia characters.

What’s next for you and your store?
The existing stores are always changing and evolving; they never stand still anymore. We are working on the details of our Spring 2020 window schemes which feature photography as a central idea. We will be undertaking remodeling works in our Paris store early this year, and working on a new store project in Tokyo for mid-2020.

What’s one lesson you’ve learned since opening the store?
Endless coffee and snacks get you through the day. Be nice to everyone.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to follow a similar path to yours, what would it be?
Ignore the rules, go with your heart, filter opinion, enjoy what you do, accept the fact that everyone thinks they are a creative director.

You can also see this story online here.

Arctic Treehouse Hotel’s ‘Cone Cows’ Tread Gently on the Finnish Landscape (Design Milk)

Made by children in Sweden and Finland, ‘cone cows’ comprise a pine cone ‘body’ and four stick ‘legs’. They are so popular that they have found their way onto Swedish postage stamps – and more recently provided the inspiration for Helsinki-based architecture firm Studio Puisto’s Arctic Treehouse Hotel when they were looking for a way to build sensitively in the Finnish arctic circle.

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The 32 treehouse-like pods, arranged in pairs, are constructed of wood and clad in overlapping wooden shingles, mimicking the scale-like exterior of a pine cone and providing much-needed insulation. “They wander downhill, peering curiously at the landscape and northern lights,” say the architects.

To minimize the impact on their fragile surroundings, each one was constructed entirely off-site, with only the glazing and connection to surfaces carried out on-site. They stand on stick-like legs and have planted roofs to replace the landscape beneath them. “The ecological footprint of the materials and technical solutions used had an important impact at every step of the planning and building process,” say the architects. But it is not just the exterior structure that has been carefully considered. “The contrast between wild nature and a safe, warm, nest-like space has been a guiding element of the whole design.”

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Inside, from a dark, atmospheric entrance hall, you step into a light-filled bedroom, orientated to make the most of the light – and that view. The wall facing the landscape (and if you’re lucky, the Northern Lights) is completely glazed and each pod has been carefully positioned for the most unobstructed view of the scenery possible. Exterior lighting is kept low to enable a true wilderness experience and minimize light pollution for the best view of the aurora borealis – just enough carefully chosen trees are lit to help you find your way.

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There are generous double beds for couples, but the full treehouse experience is reserved for children and solo-sleepers – single nest-like nooks are accessed via a ladder from the hallway. Rooms are kitted out with the best in Scandinavian design, from classics like the Model AA Butterfly Lounge Chairs by Jorge Ferrari-Hardoy to rising stars like the Cloche Lamp by Lars Beller Fjetland.

Adjoining pods have mini-kitchens and fridges, and the hotel even offers room service via WhatsApp, so once you’re in, there’s really no need to ever leave.
Should you decide to brave the snow, you will be rewarded with a five-pointed, snowflake-inspired communal building, encompassing a restaurant, lobby complete with imposing steel fireplace, lounge, and cloakrooms.

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Focusing on local and seasonal ingredients, the restaurant’s menu includes traditional Lappish delicacies, such as reindeer meat, fresh lake fish, wild mushrooms, and berries, all reworked with a modern twist. The pine-cone inspiration is carried through to the pendant lights overhead, while another fully-glazed wall ensures you never lose connection with the arctic landscape.

What: Arctic Treehouse Hotel
Where: Tarvantie 3, 96930 Arctic Circle, Rovaniemi, Finland
How much: From $418 per night including breakfast
Highlights: Nest-like nooks accessed via a ladder for the children.
Design draw: Eco-sensitive architecture by Studio Puisto with snug interiors filled with Scandi classics.
Book it: Arctic Treehouse Hotel

All photography: Marc Goodwin. You can also read this story online here.