We feel like match makers, matching objects to make something new. But they feel as though they could always have been together.
Hannah and James love unearthing objects that have stood the test of time and giving them new purpose and meaning. “We feel like match makers, matching objects to make something new,” explains Hannah. “But they feel as though they could always have been together.” The couple cleverly combine Hannah’s fascination with animism and human empathy with inanimate objects, breathing new life into discarded objects. Such has been their success, since they launched their studio in 2009, that they have been commissioned to design several high-profile interiors and their collections have enjoyed international acclaim.
Their home, a two-up two-down Victorian cottage once tied to a former Wesleyan Chapel next door, has a Dickensian feel to it, sensitively decorated and pieced together from reclaimed and vintage elements. The cottage, which sits alongside two other tiny houses on a residential street in Stockwell, South London, has an other-worldly feel to it, like stepping back in time to a forgotten past. Barely noticeable next to the neighbouring Victorian terraces, Georgian villas and impressive Regency-style Chapel, the cottage’s unassuming exterior gives few clues as to what lies within.
Hannah and James carefully peeled back layers of plaster, tile and laminate flooring, revealing the bare bones of the building. They replaced laminate floors with reclaimed potter’s boards from the Royal Doulton factory and pieced together their kitchen from antique cupboards found at auctions and antique fairs with a handsome 1950s fridge, bought from a market in North London.
The couple have tried to reuse everything they can, and the house evolved as they peeled back the layers of time. “I remember having a meeting here with the buyer from Liberty,” recalls Hannah, “And she asked to use the bathroom. I panicked because there were horrible sea horse tiles in there so the next day I took a hammer and chisel to the wall. Everything started coming off but it felt better that we’d started, and these delicious bricks started appearing. We couldnt cover them up again, so we built the bathroom around them.” Without space for a roll top bath, the couple were forced to buy a new one, but disguised it with some lead and old tin ceiling panels, find little bits of decorative detailing as they went along.
“I hope the house used to feel like this,” says Hannah. “We knew it had a soul, but it was a bit grubby so we’ve tried to transform it, choosing sympathetic colours and breathing new life into it.”