01 Oct 2013

Innovation on many levels


Award-winning property development company McKinley Spaces has completed its latest residential project. Situated in Elvaston Mews, a prime location in South Kensington, an original 19th century terraced stable mews has been re-structured by McKinley Spaces, transforming the building, which had been used as a commercial garage since the 1960s, and doubling the space and interior into a state-of-the-art residential home.


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The sheer transformation of space is the most impressive aspect of this restoration. Company founder Daphne McKinley’s incredible vision to transform a little 1,800 sq ft commercial garage and into this 3,650 sq ft stunning property is the magic of this stunning, contemporary building. “Designing a mews is very difficult because you aren’t given the space to work with,” says Daphne. “You have to be innovative with layout and ways to bring light into the building, but at the same time create a sense that it is no longer a mews house, but a spacious living environment.”

The innovative ways that space is created is the fundamental beauty of this project. Every nook and cranny has been utilised with concealed storage and every room holds inventive versatility. “Movable space is so important for urban living,” reflects Daphne, and this property has plenty of it. From movable wall dividers and dual purpose doors to a sophisticated stacker system for two cars, space has been intelligently considered.

The revolutionary aspect of 4 Elvaston Mews is situated at the top of the building in the living area. With planners denying a roof garden, Daphne overcame the planning issue with a genius idea: to have one great big sliding roof and create an inner platform which is dropped below, so that if it was sunny you could have the roof open and the space to walk up onto it and be outside, but overcoming any planning issues because it’s internal. This retractable glass roof with glass mezzanine floor serves as a roof terrace and also allows light to penetrate down through the property.

From the urban rooftop nature continues down, quite literally, as you continue downwards. A set of minimal, bespoke suspended steel and glass stairs connect to glass landings on the ground, first and second floors. Light penetrates the building, flooding through glass. Natural light is thrown into the building all the time. The simplicity and clean lines of the interior architecture is emphasised by the application of a carefully selected shade of white on all walls, reflecting the light to further illuminate the property. “We did a lot of lighting tests and wanted light coming into the building as opposed to light being put in afterwards. I’m very conscious of light and this is one thing that I absolutely love - it’s light and it’s a green effect. It’s so important for one’s wellbeing and health to have natural light,” continues Daphne.

On-trend statements

The first floor’s Japanese-inspired bedroom has a walkout terrace with glass flooring that floods the lower levels with light, although you would never know from looking at it. “The technology is so clever and lovely to work with as you can get all sorts of great effects,” says Daphne, pointing out a special film that is blurred when looking straight out, but clear when looking diagonally providing ultimate privacy. The building has been pulled back to create a bigger terrace for this floor, which creates a strong enclosed feeling to be treasured in a built-up area.

On entering the property, the sense of height and space is appreciated as you look towards a multi-functional room with its own glass balcony looking out onto a waterfall and beautifully green living wall, drenched in sunlight, which grows from the lower ground floor. It is almost unbelievable that this oasis is all internal space. “The reason I’ve brought the garden inside was because we have so little space outside,” says Daphne. “I thought the solution would be to bring the garden inside to give everybody a feeling that they’re still in the garden even though they are sitting in the basement. I visited 150 properties to see what was lacking and the main thing was light in basement areas, which is why I brought the first floor right back. Although we lost square footage, we gained a huge amount by bringing light in.”

The design team excavated the lower ground floor to dramatically increase space in the main living area. On descending the bespoke concrete deconstructed staircase, the magnificent double height living wall and waterfall flows into a sunken pool - that Daphne is enthusiastic to have fish swimming in - is fully appreciated, complete with stepping-stones.

Daphne was keen to incorporate an industrial element to the house to complement its urban setting. The kitchen worktop incorporates a vast slab of Corten steel, creating an industrial aesthetic in stark contrast to the light interior. This dramatic juxtaposition is echoed throughout the house with the implementation of a spectacular Corten Steel bespoke fireplace. This contemporary take on a centralised traditional fireplace unifies the building as it stretches visibly from the living space up to the ground, first and finally unified with the urban landscape as it looks through the glass roof of the second floor.

Not only is 4 Elvaston Mews aspiring to complement nature, it is also the perfect example of modern domestic lifestyle. The whole house is integrated with state of the art AV connected straight to an app, meaning you can control lights, heating and even run a bath from any location. Along the hallway LED lighting illuminates the space. All four levels can be accessed via the cylindrical, vacuum driven pneumatic passenger lift that spans the center of the building, or as Daphne calls it, a ‘beam me up Scottie lift’, which she sourced in Miami.

A client driven ethos

Elvaston Mews was recognised as the best single residential property development in London at the 2013 International Property Awards. McKinley Spaces were particularly proud to have completed the award-winning project on a tight budget; a great example of how you don’t have to spend an excessive amount to achieve a superb finish and quality for a client.

The house embodies Daphne’s approach and ethos to property development. Her signature style is very much client driven as she aspires to create spaces for rejuvenation and tranquility. Each development is different, but with an overlying green theme, where the use of natural light, gardens and under floor heating mean low carbon emissions. “The one element that I think is sad in many ways in London is that we don’t have much promotion of sustainability,” explains Daphne. “I would love to see green roofs to attract nature back into the city, like insects and bees, because there is so much carbon coming off roofs.”

McKinley Spaces creates volume and space with an emphasis on interchangeable functionality, incorporating the use of natural light to facilitate in modern living, and this residence clearly illustrates the innovative approach that is at the heart of the company. “I love to make people smile and every person that comes into this property smiles,” says Daphne.

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