All Things Should Have Stories: A Richly Hued London Flat (With an Ikea Kitchen Too)

For some reason this week I’ve had the beginning of that Wallace Stevens poem in my head: “One must have a mind of winter…” But it’s a sense of autumn that seems to fill a first-level flat in London that Julie sent to me recently. That and some Portuguese influence.

The flat is the vision—and home—of architects Lionel Real de Azúa (one third of Red Deer) and Sophie Rose (founder of Studio Thorn). “So we were the joint clients and designer/architects,” Lionel wrote to me by email. “The flat is in an ex-local authority pre-war housing block. It was previously owned by someone who had been there since the ’80s and left a lot of the existing layout. We removed a partition between the living room and kitchen and removed nearly everything except the doors and woodwork.”

With the interiors newly opened up, the design-minded couple turned towards the fittings and finishes. “The inspiration was drawn from Sophie and my travels in Portugal the previous years,” says Lionel. “We loved the juxtaposition of utilitarian finishes (stainless steel) and traditional forms (azulejos and deep oaks and mahoganies).”

There are Portuguese tiles in the cookspace and bath, and the palette feels like fall embodied: muted earth tones, a dark wood floor, a russet-colored powder room. And the stainless kitchen is—surprise—Ikea.

Take a look:

Photography courtesy of Red Deer.

Kitchen in Haggerston Flat in London by Red Deer Above: The kitchen fills one end of the main room. “The stainless steel kitchen front is Ikea, believe it or not,” writes Lionel. “We then got a bespoke stainless steel top made for us, as that had been my childhood dream to have a commercial-feeling kitchen.” The room feels far from cold, though, balanced out as it is with dark wood hues, soft white walls, and a shelf holding copper canisters, a kettle, and art.
Kitchen in Haggerston Flat in London by Red Deer Above: Of the earthy palette throughout, Lionel writes, “We stayed in a house in Colares near Sintra [Portugal], which gave us the palette for the kitchen, and we even got the recommendation for the tiles from a local there who directed us to the local handmade tile fabricator called Viúva Lamego.” The backsplash tiles—and those in the bath—were sourced there.
Living Area in Haggerston Flat in London by Red Deer Above: The living area, with a built-in place to read or look out the window and French-made Wo and Wé wall lights. There’s storage beneath the seating, too.
Living Area in Haggerston Flat in London by Red Deer Above: Books fill much of the opposite wall.
Detail of Door in Haggerston Flat in London by Red Deer Above: An original door, bathed in London light.
Detail of Art in Haggerston Flat in London by Red Deer Above: A Hammershoi print hangs on one wall. (N.B.: For a room inspired by Hammershoi, see Kitchen of the Week: A Culinary Space Inspired by a Painting.)
Bedroom in Haggerston Flat in London by Red Deer Above: The couple left the dividing wall between bedroom and main room intact.
Bedroom in Haggerston Flat in London by Red Deer Above: In the bedroom, dark-stained floors and a simply made bed.
Bedroom in Haggerston Flat in London by Red Deer Above: Subtle two-toned walls—with a more saturated hue on top—make the ceiling seem higher.
Bathroom in Haggerston Flat in London by Red Deer Above: In one bath, the shower is tiled with Portuguese azulejo tiles. “The bathroom sink was Sophie’s find on Ebay,” writes Lionel. “It’s actually a cast aluminum plant trough—our plumber cut the drain in and fixed to the wall for us, and we then added Viúva Lamego tiles and unlacqured brass bath taps to complete the look.”
Bathroom in Haggerston Flat in London by Red Deer Above: Also beside the sink: a wall-mounted soap holder by La Maison du Savon de Marseille.
Hallway in Haggerston Flat in London by Red Deer Above: The hallway, layered with antique rugs.
Powder Room in Haggerston Flat in London by Red Deer Above: And the auburn-hued powder room. “All things should have stories,” Sophie wrote on the @studio_thorn Instagram. “My great grandfather established a brass foundry in Sweden, where my grandfather formed a career as a metal worker. The candlestick in the WC was one of his creations, which forms part of a pair—my mother has the other.” Design with a story indeed.

For a few more London flats we love, see:

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