A new bedroom and bathroom in a Georgian townhouse offer comfort and style to complement the traditional features
Houzz Contributor. I’m a freelance journalist and editor writing for nationals, magazines… More
Original features are prized – and sometimes protected by law, ensuring they aren’t lost to future generations. That was the case in this London townhouse belonging to a professional couple, so when they decided to turn the first floor of the beautiful listed house into their bedroom and bathroom suite, it was essential the historic elements were preserved.
How, though, to create contemporary functionality and style while working with the building’s assets? For solutions, the pair turned to designer Anna Burles of Run For The Hills.
Room at a Glance
Who lives here A professional couple and their two young daughters
Location Islington, north London
Property A Grade II listed Georgian townhouse with five bedrooms and three bathrooms
Master suite dimensions Bedroom: 5.5 x 4.2m; bathroom: 3.8 x 3.3m
Designer Anna Burles of Run For The Hills
Photos by Katya de Grunwald
The first floor of the house had huge potential as a master bedroom and en suite. However, the listed status of the building imposed a number of restrictions.
“We couldn’t change or block up a door, and the cabinetry, which looks fitted, is actually self-supporting, as we couldn’t change or move skirting boards,” Anna says. Fixing to original walls, coving and panelling was also prohibited within the Listed Building Consent.
The wooden floorboards threw up another hurdle. “They are completely wonky,” Anna says, “but the owners loved the floor, so we sanded it back.”
A big bed was a must-have for the tall owners, so Anna planned the room from this starting point, bearing in mind the need for access around the original shutters and the old radiators beneath the windows.
“We realised there was only space for dinky bedside tables,” Anna says. “Hence, we created a niche with space for charging a phone and a laptop. The bedside tables are for a cup of tea and a book.”
Pendant bedside lights are space-savers, too, and emphasise the lofty proportions of the room.
Brass pendant light, Bert Frank. Bedside table, Graham & Green.
Find pendant lighting for every room in the Houzz Shop
The couple wanted a colour scheme that didn’t play it safe or look dull. So against a background of warm grey walls and cabinetry is a bold teal headboard and furniture in warmly tinted rosewood.
The super-king-size bed was dressed in layered linens to create textural interest and introduce pattern. The headboard’s studded finish adds a tailored element.
Cabinetry painted in Purbeck Stone; walls painted in Wimborne White, both Farrow & Ball. Headboard, Loaf.
Shaker-style panelling conceals extensive storage on the wall behind the headboard. “The doors have a push-click opening, and then a light comes on,” Anna says.
The cabinets can house anything from shoes to family paperwork. Even the area behind the headboard is useful, retained for documents that need to be kept but generally not accessed.
The return of the cabinetry (just seen on the right of the photo) is wardrobe space.
The house faces a garden square, so, as they’re not overlooked, the couple felt they didn’t need an additional window treatment alongside the shutters. The layers of paint that had accumulated through time meant these window coverings did need sanding back to work properly, though.
A midcentury bench at the end of the bed adds to the collection of vintage furniture in the room. As well as bringing another historic layer to the scheme, it’s functional – a spot for reading a bedtime story to the children or laying out clothes.
Anna sourced a capiz shell lampshade for the ceiling light. “It’s substantial, but still feels light and airy,” she says. Between the windows is an antique cigar cabinet.
Shutters painted in Wimborne White, Farrow & Ball. Bench; pendant lampshade, both Pamono.
A feather decoration that’s a fun inclusion and boosts textural interest was hung above the cigar cabinet. “The windows are such a hero element, it needed something strong to create a focal point,” Anna says.
Feather decoration, Graham & Green.
The marble fireplace simply needed cleaning to bring back its good looks, and the brickwork inside was spruced up, too.
A tall, floorstanding mirror alongside makes the most of the room’s height.
Anna placed a 1960s Danish chest of drawers – in rosewood and with beautiful metal handles – in the alcove to the left of the fireplace. It made the unevenness of the floor obvious. “We had all kinds of jazz to make it stand right,” Anna says.
The entrance to the bedroom is through the bathroom. The Listed Building Consent meant the door to the bedroom couldn’t be altered, but it’s blocked by a piece of art, leaving this as the only access for a more private arrangement.
As the way into the suite, and because it’s visible from the bedroom, the bathroom had to be a showstopper. The layout presented a challenge, with a fireplace, alcoves and an original radiator under the picture window to work the elements around.
Shower enclosure, Fabco Sanctuary. Lampshade, 1stdibs.
The tall owners needed a high shower, but that wasn’t the sole consideration. “The enclosure had to be a real focal point,” Anna says.
She chose a framed glass design that features clear glass on two sides with reeded glass for privacy on the toilet side. To adhere to the Listed Building Consent, a false wall had to be built for it to be positioned against.
10 more chic black-framed shower doors
The location of the basins was determined by the room’s original features, and the need to create flow through the space. So the washstand was placed in the centre of the room between the shower enclosure and the fireplace. It’s made from a vintage rosewood sideboard.
The mirrors needed to be high up for the owners, as well as thin enough to fit neatly onto the washstand. An extra towel rail was cleverly positioned on the back.
A piece of slate was cut to size to protect the surface of the repurposed sideboard, and Anna chose basins made from Carrara marble. They also tie in with the bedroom’s marble fireplace.
The sideboard had to be reinforced to bear the weight of the basins.
Looking for someone to take on a master suite project in your home? Find interior designers in your area in the Houzz Directory
The false wall at the back of the shower was finished with bespoke artisan tiles that allowed interesting configurations of dark and light tones and arrow shapes.
Antique brass fittings were used throughout the bathroom – they are warm and sympathetic to the period property. “There’s no chrome, even down to the loo roll holder,” Anna says.
Tiles, Smink Things. Shower controls, The Watermark Collection.
What are your favourite elements of this bedroom and bathroom scheme? Share your thoughts in the Comments section.
1. Toulouse Wall and Floor Mirror
2. Taku Round Wooden Side Table
3. Juju Style Beige and Brown Feather Wall Sculpture
4. Scarlett Bed, Atlantis
5. Pembridge Pendant Light
6. Artificial Caladium in White Pot
7. Panel Wallpaper, Textured Teal Blue
8. Large White Polar Bear Ornament Statue
9. Pasión Titanic Oak Chest of Drawers