The Bright Colors of Sri Lanka Inspired the Design of This London Home
Family life at its best.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 7:17 AM
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In today’s social circles, neighbors are usually just a notch above strangers. A quick greeting is often all that’s exchanged, and—other than vague acknowledgments—it’s rare for a set of neighbors to move beyond polite acquaintances.
But that wasn’t the case for Jordan Cluroe and Russell Whitehead, the founders and creative directors of 2LG Studio, and their former neighbors in the Forest Hill neighborhood of London. They were friends. So when the couple opted to move north to St. Albans with their two young children, they asked Cluroe and Whitehead if they’d be interested in renovating their new country home.
“Their work lives are stressful and intensive, so they wanted their time at home to be special,” Cluroe says, noting that the owners are actors. “They love to travel and especially love the sea, so we wanted to create a relaxed vibe full of vibrant color and life.”
To do that, Cluroe and Whitehead needed to completely reimagine the pastoral Edwardian cottage that is now the family’s address. It only had a couple of bedrooms, the electrical wiring was ancient, the windows were old, and and the heating was fickle. That all needed to be replaced. But the home did sit on a large plot of land, so the designers used the space to their advantage.
They extended the house on two sides and installed a loft conversion so that the updated floor plan consisted of five bedrooms and three bathrooms. They also modernized the important details—like that much-needed central heat—and created an open living space with an additional playroom for the kids.
“It was a big build,” Whitehead says. “It’s always challenging to renovate an old property. Once you open it up, it can create challenges, but we prefer to see them as opportunities. You have to be able to modulate when working on a property like this—to react to its uniqueness and let it inform choices throughout the process.”
Once the home was in line with the modern sensibilities of a young family, Cluroe and Whitehead tapped into their neighborly insights to outfit the home’s interior design. They knew the owners loved Sri Lanka, so the pair traveled to the South Asian island for inspiration to create a vivid color palette.
“We visited several architectural salvage yards and antique shops there. Many of the pieces, including the two turquoise pillars and the huge wooden cabinet, came from that trip,” Whitehead continues. “The pillars were a key color, with lots of different shades of blues and greens in their original peeling-paint finish. These tones appear throughout the property, for instance, in the bespoke encaustic tiles that we had made for the kitchen and the glazed tiles in the master bathroom.”
The main living space was made to feel like a sunny vacation, where hand-selected tiles from Spain in the kitchen bring out the brightness from the nearby garden. The pastel shades, especially the rosy pink and bold teal, continue into a playful family room accented by an intricate mantel found in a salvage yard. Even the floral wallpaper used in the dining room and along the staircase are in keeping with the sunny disposition of a getaway, despite its origins in the Liberty of London store.
“The living space is special because you can sit on the large sofa and see the kitchen, the log fire, the dining area, the playroom, and the office all from one spot,” Cluroe notes. “You are right in the thick of it with family life branching off all around you.”
“This is a great example of us working outside of our standard aesthetic, taking on the lifestyle and passion of the owners to deliver a home that makes their lives better,” Cluroe says. “It is unique to them, and all the elements have a story that makes the space feel grounded.”
The designers no longer live near the owners, of course. But after 18 months of working together, their friendship is a good reminder of what could happen beyond the standard polite greetings that often occur between neighbors.
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