A 1920s Cottage in Chigwell, Essex is Given a Luxury Update

by Becky Hoh in Interior designed homes

This plush five bedroom property is a large 1920s detached gatekeepers cottage, forming part of the original Monkhams Estate, in Chigwell, Essex.

North West London-based, interior designers and architects Boscolo, were commissioned by the owners to totally refurbish the ground floor of the house.  The clients are both doctors with two teenage children and two dogs. The grown up luxury seen in the scheme has not only pushed the boundaries of what can be achieved within the parameters of a ‘family home’ but was completed in just 20 weeks.

Boscolo were called in as the time-short clients were at a loss as to how to make the ground floor space work for them as a family. It was not only the decor that didn’t fit in with their lives; the space consisted of a number of awkward, redundant areas and the whole ‘flow’ of the ground floor was not working for them.

The first job was to open it out so as to be more in line with the minimal layout the clients required, realign the ‘flow’, and also to create views and ‘moments’ within the space. It is now made up of the entrance hallway, study, lounge, piano room and kitchen/dining area.

‘Our reconfiguration was designed to influence patterns of movement from one room to another, based on the activities outlined by the client’ says Hunjan. ‘Once the patterns of movement had developed, we then decided on the locations of doorways in order to give the best views through the openings from the adjacent space.’

The hallway was extended to allow for a large, much needed coat closet, equipped for all the needs of the children and pet dogs.  The kitchen/diner and utility space were completely redesigned and also extended. The objective of the kitchen extension was to create a central, unifying space where the family could perform their daily activities with more convenience, comfort and fun – a central hub for socialising.

Larger than average openings were created in order to enhance the visual connection between the spaces with the use of bespoke, extra-wide, pocket sliding doors which also helped to minimise restrictions to the layout and positioning of furniture.

These openings create the ‘views’ desired by the client, one of the most prominent being that of the grand piano which can be seen from the kitchen and hallway. The feature fireplace in the living area is another focal point seen through series of openings from the kitchen. In order to create balance and symmetry, it is framed within the open entrances, to create a focal feature at the furthest viewpoint. It has the desired minimal, contemporary aesthetic with the impressive hearth spanning the whole width of the wall. It is made up of a floating canopy with a dancing flame fireplace surrounded by glass, which sits on a full width low level platform clad in a leather finished stone top.

Once the space had been set, the interior scheme needed to address the balance between the minimal and the comfort and informality that a family home should possess, with the adaptability to transform into an adult space when required.


‘A combination of the spatial layout and the colour scheme creates a narrative to the home and its flow’

Lighting design played a big part in this, with Boscolo working with The Foundry Light + Design to create tone, levels and mood options throughout and a contemporary lighting scheme that catered for various types of occasions. Low ceiling heights led to a carefully structured lighting plan that mixed multiple layers, to ensure that each space was well lit as well as giving options, such as a bright family ambience, or a more intimate setting used for entertaining guests. Subtle trimless downlights have been used to suit the contemporary, architectural character of the home, as well as dimmers and discreet directional fittings to highlight the clients artwork and key furniture pieces.

The flooring is a mixture of dark stained engineered wenge, chosen for its slick look and hardwearing properties, with the clients’ dogs a constant consideration. With the dark floor punctuating the space, the colour palette is mainly white and grey, partly chosen for it’s clean, modern feel, but also because the main room, spanning 8 metres, benefits from maximum natural light at only one end of the space. Warmth is brought in with soft textures and finishes such as the large, bespoke silk rugs, varying upholstery fabrics – mainly Zinc Textile, as well as pinch pleat curtains from Romo.

‘We played with various stone thicknesses to create contrasting Quartz kitchen surfaces,’ Hunjan explains. ‘We opted for a 12mm white worktop butting up to an 80mm graphite grey breakfast table.’

The wallpaper in the kitchen is a textured design from Brian Yates. The contemporary dining table and chairs are from Cattelan Italia and appliances are Siemens.

A colourful stained glass feature window inspired by the art deco period of the property was commissioned for the stairway to reflect the playful nature of the family.  The ballustrade spindles were replaced with glass for a modern twist.

The guest WC was not without its challenges as the pitch in the ceiling made the space feel enclosed. The team decided to fit a very large mirror to reflect the pitch, making it more of a feature. ‘This was not planned but actually looks great and gives the illusion of more space,’ says Hunjan. The Porcelanosa tiling has a distressed look and the Duravit basin sits on Silestone Quartz top.


Both Boscolo and the client are incredibly pleased with the project. ‘A combination of the spatial layout and the colour scheme creates a narrative to the home and its flow’ asserts Hunjan. ‘We accurately met the brief and we know the clients are still very happy with their home.’

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