Chez Family J: Extending our London Flat

by Jess Jenkin May 20, 2020  |   4 min read

So we’ve mentioned it before, but a big reason for starting Eyes Wide was because I got talking to Nina (my interior designer co-founder) about how tricky it was to source sustainable products and materials when it came to extending and renovating our flat in London. That there didn’t seem to be any kind of trusted resource I could visit to help me with my research. And let’s be honest, there’s a lot of research that goes into renovating a home! In the least we thought a resource like this could really help save people time.

So without further ado, here is the flat that sparked up these conversations (and in turn this website) with a bit of background info on how we transformed it…

 

The property is an end-of-terrace split-level maisonette in Muswell Hill, North London.

We worked with the architect Nick Hayhurst from Hayhurst & Co to extend into the garden, updating our two-bedroom, one-bathroom home into a three-bedroom, three-bathroom home. We started conversations with Nick back in 2014, and although we spoke to other architects he stood out miles above anyone else. Because I am a creative myself, and my father was an architect who immersed me in the world of floor plans, 3d models, passive solar heating and sustainability from a young age, I’d like to think I have a good eye for this kind of thing. There was nothing I liked better when I was a kid than spending days off from school at my Dad’s architect office.

Nick’s big idea that we liked from the get-go was creating a separate entrance down the side of the house, allowing us to keep all of our communal living spaces near the entrance on the lower levels and all of our more private sleeping spaces on the upper levels of the building. We also briefed Nick to include a double-sided fire to help connect the living spaces. This was to sit in an existing chimney breast, even though it turned out we had to direct the flu elsewhere, but that’s another story…

It was important to us that we connect our home as much as possible with the garden, do something different than your typical side-extension, and do our best to choose materials, fixtures and fittings that were both stylish and better for the environment.

This photo credit and many others above are by French+Tye. Some others near the top are by Killian O’Sullivan.

So I must admit, being better for the environment took the back seat when it came to how beautiful something was or how much we loved it. We simply didn’t have the resource to research every last detail, and certainly back when we were sourcing stuff the information was less readily available because sustainability wasn’t as hot a topic as it is now (and a website like this didn’t exist *shameless plug hehe)!

With all of this in mind, here are some of the more environmentally friendly choices we did make, the reasons why, and links to more info:

 

Green roof planted with wildflower from Sky Garden – to increase biodiversity and attract wildlife.

Hand painted air dried cement tiles from Mosaic del Sur. These were made to order in our custom colour choices. They have a showroom on Colombia Road in London and they have a handy visualiser tool on their site. Hand painted and air, not kiln dried.

We love our solid surface Corian counters made from recycled material and easily repaired or renewed. We chose them mainly for their clean, matte look and no join line with the sink. Corian has quite a few eco credentials but check out Durat, another recycled solid surface material which has even more…

Vintage barstools, dining chairs, tables, artwork, lighting, rugs and lots of other furnishings throughout the house. Some of our best finds have been sourced at the Peanut Vendor, Holt Antiques & Interiors Centre, Antik Modern, Gonnerman, Kempton Market, and Chiswick carboot sale.

Handle hardware is all by Buster & Punch, who are a London based brand doing their bit for sustainability with considered packaging made from sugar cane.

Reclaimed bricks from London Reclaim Brick Centre.

Bioethanol double-sided fire from Modus Fireplaces. Unlike traditional solid fuel or gas fires, biofuel produces no harmful emissions or smoke that pollutes the local atmosphere – its CO2 emissions are minimal.

Soft pine FSC wood (stained black) clads the full height kitchen areas and English oak is used everywhere else, stained in Osmo Polyx®-Oils tints honey colour, based on natural, renewable raw vegetable materials.

Because we have a massive oak tree in our garden, we liked that these lights were called ‘Acorn’. They are from a Danish company called Umage who cares deeply about creating sustainable products and they come flat-packed with minimal packaging. We have added them as a product on Eyes Wide here.

So many plants to help keep us happy and the air clean 🌿❤️