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07 Dec 2020

Rylett Studios: A Laundry List of Renovations

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An exceptionally designed, contemporary lateral living, four-bedroom home set within a historical Victorian building, Rylett Studios, in fondly known Starch Green, has come to market with leading west London estate agent, Finlay Brewer. In a former life, the building was a Victorian laundry facility, then a ball bearings factory in World War II and, more recently, a collection of office design studios.

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The current owners, Jim and Sam Strutt, have beautifully converted part of the studios into a unique, modern home, unlike anything else in west London, which is on the market with Finlay Brewer for £2.275m.

The 2396ft2 home is set back from Rylett Crescent and is just moments away from leafy Wendell Park. The home is set across two floors, has off-street parking and also benefits from an additional mezzanine level study with a glass ceiling, a perfect tranquil place to work from home or watch the ever-changing sky above with a coffee.

Upon entering the property, you are met by a wonderful bright hallway with ample storage and a statement staircase which lights up and changes colour, great for an evening of entertaining. Passing down the hall, there is a stylish family bathroom with high-spec fixtures and a useful utility room. Further beyond, stylish curved walls lead to three good-sized bedrooms, one with an en-suite which features innovative waterproof resin on the walls.

The master suite can be found at the end of the hallway and features a clever frosted window that lets in lots of natural light, one of the quirky features kept by the current owners during renovations. The master suite further comprises a large walk-in wardrobe and en-suite bathroom with his and hers sinks and a bath and separate shower.

The first floor is dedicated solely to the remarkable lateral living space. As homeowners walk up the feature staircase, the first thing they will notice is the natural light pouring in from the high glass ceiling and original porthole window at the end of the expansive space. The glass ceiling and surrounding windows are controlled electrically.

Here, i-Build Editor, Rebecca, talks to Sam about the ambitious project and finds out what drove the pair to choose this unique property.

RK: What inspired you to take on this project?
SS: We were looking for an alternative to the traditional Victorian terraced house that may be very practical but also very predictable.

RK: Had you always wanted to pursue your own project?
SS: Yes, but in all honesty, we never took it seriously!

RK: How and why did you choose this property to renovate?
SS: Serendipity; it came to the market at the right time, in the area where we were looking and through the agent we were working with.

RK: What style and age is the original building?
SS: It was built in the 1920s, initially as a laundry facility (historically, there were a lot in this part of west London), converted to a ball-bearing factory in World War II, then converted to design studios. About 10 years ago, the site was divided into three, and each subsequently had planning permission to convert to residential.

RK: How did you combine the original building’s style with the extension?
SS: The glass roof on the first floor is a dominant feature of the original build and is integral to the overall design. One central beam across the middle was replaced with a V-shaped girder (to maintain the structure), but we kept the shape of the girder as a reminder of the industrial heritage of the building. We kept the exterior windows to maintain the integrity of the outside design. Similarly, the metal pillars on the ground floor (supporting the first floor) have been kept (and painted in a contrasting colour).

RK: What was the vision and inspiration behind your new home?
SS: Maintaining the sense of light and space that comes from the glass roof and the balcony that we installed.

RK: How did you approach finalising your design brief?
SS: A lot of the design was developed as we worked on the project in partnership with our builder. We also based certain aspects of work done on our previous house. In particular, the design of the kitchen (an essential part, as we are both keen cooks) replicated the layout and structure of our previous kitchen that we had renovated some five years earlier.

RK: How long did it take to gain planning permission?
SS: The property was acquired with planning permission already granted.

RK: Were there any challenging aspects to the project and build?
SS: The layout of the ground floor was predicated mainly on the position of the windows (knowing that we wanted four bedrooms). The issue regarding the staircase was providing ease of access without loss of floor space. So, we installed a floating staircase, incorporating a lightbox underneath which emphasises the sense of space. With regards to the glass roof, the challenge was not so much heat loss, but heat gain. Here, we installed blinds to manage the effect and replaced the old UV film on the glass. For storage issues, we used every part of the building to provide storage space.

RK: Did you work with an architect at any point in the process?
SS: We worked with a lighting designer and an excellent builder, who was very creative and flexible in his approach to the project and prepared to work with us on the challenge.

RK: How did you approach material and product specification?
SS: Personal research, recommendations and exhibitions.

RK: Are there any particular materials that you would recommend to others looking to renovate or self-build?
SS: Neolith Beton for the kitchen worksurfaces (from The Marble Store), polished concrete floor for the main living space (Lazenby) and micro-cement for the floor and walls of the shower rooms (Topcret) – which is very versatile.

RK: How long did the project take?
SS: We allowed 12 months, and the project lasted 14; but, we had moved in by then. It was completed in October 2016, and we moved in August.

RK: Did you remain within the original budget?
SS: Because we had little prior experience, and because of the size of the project, budgeting was tricky. We ended up spending more than anticipated as we developed aspects of the project as we went along.

RK: What do you love most about the property?
SS: The light; it’s always different and uplifting. And not just from the glass roof; the balcony is south-facing and, being on the first floor, is not overlooked. We have largely unbroken 180° views across rooftops. The space is very different to anywhere we have previously lived, and it’s very easy to live within. Plus, despite the double-height ceiling, it feels warm and cosy in the winter, thanks to the underfloor heating and the log-effect gas fire.

RK: Is there anything that you would have done differently?
SS: No – other than a few small issues (like the positioning of the door entry system and some of the power sockets). We discussed solar panels, but the budget did not allow for the cost.

RK: What advice would you offer to anyone looking to renovate or self-build?
SS: Go to shows, exhibitions and showrooms. Find a good builder. Concentrate on the energy performance of the build. Ensure you include plenty of storage. Most new builds are woefully lacking in storage (in contrast to Victorian terraced houses with cellars and/or lofts).

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