Tonal Terrace by Bradley Van Der Straeten

Tonal Terrace is a project designed by Bradley Van Der Straeten. A four-storey townhouse in Dalston re-imagined and transformed into a bold and colourful bohemian party house. Photography by Bradley Van Der Straeten. Photography by French + Tye.


The client
We were approached by Zoe, actor, and Benedict, Cinematographer, to extend and transform their newly purchased townhouse in Dalston. We had worked with Zoe before on a renovation of her Hampstead apartment and we were very excited when she wanted to work with us again for the house that she had bought together with Benedict.

The original house
Already knowing the clients well, we had the opportunity to view the house before they placed an offer, and this enabled us to provide some initial advice and ideas. We also knew that whatever we were going to embark on together was going to be fun.
The existing house was divided into two dwellings, a small flat with fronts steps leading down on the lower ground floor and a family maisonette on the upper three floors, accessed up a flight of external stairs. What struck us about the building was its grand urban Brooklyn townhouse feel and the generous proportions of the main living areas and beautiful bay windows.

The brief
The brief was to combine the two separate dwellings into one home and restore the grand townhouse to its former glory. Zoe and Benedict wanted to change the basement flat into the main kitchen and living space, so that it could open onto the generous garden. They also wanted to keep the original through-lounge on the upper floor as well as providing a main bedroom with en-suite, a family bathroom, and further rooms to be used as bedrooms and study space but able to adapt over time.

“Having lived in predominantly white spaces for the past few years, I found myself thirsty for colour! I wanted a space that was vibrant and uplifting.” Zoe

Design Ideas
Developing the designs was exciting, as we had so much to work with. Their collection of artwork and furniture was already a great starting point for the home, and we knew from early discussions that colour was going to be key. Also, with Benedict being a Cinematographer, his technical interest and knowledge, meant we had to be on our A game when it came to lighting and designing for natural daylight.
Early discussions for the new construction elements of the project kept returning to mid-century Los Angeles style and we liked the idea of entering the house on a Brooklyn feel and switching from East Coast to West Coast by discovering a brightly lit, mid-century Californian style living space inside.
For the upper floors there were definite nods towards mid-century Italian colours and fittings, a particular favourite style of Zoe’s.

The Design Solution
The design solution was simple. The basement level was cramped, damp and in need of total transformation, but the upper three floors had beautiful proportions and we could save on structural and re-building works by focusing on celebrating the existing rooms without the need for major structural change.
On the basement level we fully opened it up by removing all the internal walls and we extended out into the garden with a simple and small infill single-storey extension. This created a fully open plan, long, linear space, with the kitchen at the front of the house, next to the beautiful bay window, the dining space and new stair in the middle of the plan and the lounge area at the back, benefitting from natural light from above and fully glazed onto the garden.

On the upper ground floor (with the main entrance to the house) the existing through-lounge was retained and celebrated. In the small rear outrigger, which was formerly a small kitchen, we converted it into the yellow shower room – that helps bring a beacon of daylight into the corridor and stair. The main structural adaptations were made under the existing staircase, where we brought up the new stair from the basement. We created a glass wall and door in this location using Crittal glazing, to create a fire separation between levels, but to still allowing light to flow in from the ground floor windows

On the upper two floors, bar undoing a few unoriginal changes that had occurred over the years, most walls and doors remained, and we created a main bedroom with walk-through wardrobe and family bathroom adjacent on the first floor and three smaller rooms on the top floor used as a guest bedroom, study, and a Peloton room but able to adapt over time.

“It’s a big house for two people, but we find we use every inch of it already. Each room has a different function, but also a different atmosphere, so I find myself settling in different corners of the house depending on my mood.” Zoe

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