Kilburn Nightingale remodels Hackney townhouse with sweet-chestnut joinery

London architect Ben Kilburn has renovated a Victorian property he owns in Hackney, transforming three separate flats into a large family home featuring a double-height library and an attic playroom.

Kilburn Nightingale remodels Hackney townhouse and adds sweet-chestnut joinery

Ben Kilburn, one of the co-founders of Kilburn Nightingale Architects, bought the four-storey house on Greenwood Road to provide a family home for his wife and their three young daughters.

The building had previously been converted into three separate flats, meaning Kilburn had to completely re-plan the layout. This included removing existing walls, creating openings in the floor and rebuilding the original staircase.

Kilburn Nightingale remodels Hackney townhouse and adds sweet-chestnut joinery

"This project shows how a typical Victorian home can be opened up for more flexible use by a family, and also be adapted to positively reduce the carbon footprint," Kilburn told Dezeen.

"The layout breaks down the traditional horizontal layering of this type of house, and the addition of a number of different types of insulation, photovoltaics and solar thermal panels greatly improve the energy efficiency," he added.

Kilburn Nightingale remodels Hackney townhouse and adds sweet-chestnut joinery

Like many of London's townhouses, the building has two storeys accessible from ground level - one that is slightly raised above the street and one that sits in line with a sunken garden. The architect transformed both of these floors into communal family spaces.

The lower ground floor accommodates a large kitchen and dining room that leads straight out to the garden beyond.

Kilburn Nightingale remodels Hackney townhouse and adds sweet-chestnut joinery

The double-height library area is positioned at the back, creating a visual connection with two living rooms on the floor above.

The first of these is a relaxed space facing out over the lawn, while the other is a formal area where the family can entertain guests.

Kilburn Nightingale remodels Hackney townhouse and adds sweet-chestnut joinery

The architect worked with a local joiner to add new sweet-chestnut window frames and cladding to an old extension at the rear of the house, intended to "mask the original poor quality brickwork".

Five bedrooms and two bathrooms occupy the two upper levels. The attic was also remodelled, creating a playroom for the children that doubles as a guest bedroom.

Kilburn Nightingale remodels Hackney townhouse and adds sweet-chestnut joinery

Photography is by Charles Hosea.

Here's the project description from Kilburn Nightingale Architects:


71 Greenwood Rd, London E8
Repair/remodelling and refurbishment of an existing house

This project involves the conversion, repair and extensive remodelling of a semi-detached mid Victorian house in Dalston, Hackney.

The house was purchased by Ben and Jane Kilburn at auction as a freehold building containing three flats. Ben Kilburn is a director with Richard Nightingale at Kilburn Nightingale Architects, an architecture practice based near King's Cross.

Kilburn Nightingale remodels Hackney townhouse and adds sweet-chestnut joinery
Lower ground floor plan - click for larger image

This project presented an opportunity for Kilburn Nightingale (with Ben in the role of architect/owner) to develop a design that would take into account the joint requirements of contemporary family living (with three daughters aged 10, 8 and 5) and the rehabilitation and improvement of a house that had been neglected and interfered with by previous owners.

Kilburn Nightingale remodels Hackney townhouse and adds sweet-chestnut joinery
Upper ground floor plan - click for larger image

The renovation was designed to provide a functional home taking into account a need for flexible living space that would allow for a number of different activities to take place concurrently (so that the family could be 'together'). The arrangement also needed to allow more privacy when required. The design also avoids having the lower kitchen/living area separated from the rest of the house by a formal, underused living area at upper ground level.

Kilburn Nightingale remodels Hackney townhouse and adds sweet-chestnut joinery
First floor plan - click for larger image

To achieve this, upper and lower living areas are connected to each other through a new double-height space at the rear of the property, and also connected to the garden through double-height glazing. This sense of openness is enhanced throughout the house by a number of new windows in the flank wall bringing light into the middle of the house.

Kilburn Nightingale remodels Hackney townhouse and adds sweet-chestnut joinery
Second floor plan - click for larger image

The lower ground floor of the house has been remodelled to provide kitchen, dining and living area, with the double-height space at the rear of the house opening up to a flowing living space above. This upper living space is loosely divided into a more relaxed area closest to the balcony and views to the garden, and a slightly more formal living room at the front of the house.

Kilburn Nightingale remodels Hackney townhouse and adds sweet-chestnut joinery
Attic plan - click for larger image

First and second floors are divided into bedrooms and new bathrooms, and the attic has been converted to provide a flexible study/sleep-over/play space. Access to the attic is via a 'hit and miss' stair that is designed to take up as little space as possible.

Kilburn Nightingale remodels Hackney townhouse and adds sweet-chestnut joinery
Section - click for larger image

The connection of the lower two floors of the house with the garden is made partly through the large windows/doors at the rear of the house, but also through the construction of a new shed/studio at the back of the garden. The large glazed double doors of the shed face back to the big doors in the glazed screen at the back of the house, with the suggestion that the shed is akin to a piece of the house that has floated out into the garden.