Clifton Hill House

Architecture Residential Greater London, England, United Kingdom

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16 Images

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1. Entrance

Weathered brick facades left untreated to conserve traces of the building’s 150-year history whilst window frames and rendered areas were decorated in grey tones.

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2. Rear facade

Collection of existing and new openings in the rear facade

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3. Front light well

Slanted angles of the bay window are picked up by the new stepped retaining walls.

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4. Entrance hall

Look from entrance all to stairwell and living area beyond

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5. Living area

The living area on the raised ground floor overlooks the generous garden

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6. Bespoke joinery

Integrated lights emphasize the relief of the joinery fronts

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7. Joinery detail

Sliding panels conceal storage and TV

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8. Spatial connectivity

Vistas from living area towards stair and garden

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9. Internal window

A window from the living room provides views to staircase

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10. Inside out

Facade detail and bespoke joinery seen from bay window

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11. Tapered staircase

New staircase connecting entrance hall on raised ground floor level with kitchen on the floor below

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12. Double-storey high space

The entrance hall is in

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13. Staircase

Handrail and balustrade in stained oak match staircase treads and risers

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14. Rooms on the top floor

The dark stained oak floor continues from the staircase landing into the badrooms

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15. Master bedroom

A simple material palette, creating calm and elegant interior spaces

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16. Garden

The kitchen extends via a sunken patio into the garden

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Clifton Hill House is a refurbishment of a semi-detached Victorian villa in St John’s Wood, one of North London’s conservation areas. It appears conventional from the outside yet Patalab's internal interventions spectacularly increases spatial connectivity within the house.

Clifton Hill House: The Brief

Our brief was to consolidate the lower ground floor flat and the rest of the house to create a contemporary home for a growing young family. As part of our strategy to connect the flat with the main house we had to carefully consider how the garden and house would interact as until our involvement, the garden had only been accessible from the lower ground floor making the back garden’s lush greenery feel disconnected from both bedrooms and living spaces in the house.

Spatial Connectivity

In response to this internal/external division, as well as the requirement to make the existing floor floors interconnected, we proposed a series of double-storey interventions.

A new staircase leads from the entrance hall on the raised ground floor down to garden level where the kitchen area feels like it extends into the garden via a new sunken terrace. The flow of this journey between levels is reinforced by the geometry of the staircase - tapered, getting wider as you descend to reach the garden, drawing you from the upper to lower level. A new 4.5-metre-high glazed opening at the bottom of the staircase compliments the stair's crescendo to bring view of the garden deeper into the house. Externally, this tall window adds to the collection of existing openings in the rear facade, completing the composition and hinting at the new internal arrangement.

To the front of the property a new void creates a more dramatic Entrance Hall - whilst the plan of the space remains narrow, the ceiling height is doubled resulting in an unexpected and grander entrance to the house. Not only does this allow the entrance to claim more natural light through a first storey window but it also provides a setting for a new light feature. The Master Suite looks out on to this void increasing the bedroom’s connection to the floor below.

Material Palette

Providing a neutral palette for family life, the internal material treatment was kept deliberately simple. Bespoke joinery pieces are finished in light tones to allow their relief details to catch the increased daylight from the new staircase, and contrast with darker materials such as Belgian basalt and stained oak. We left the weathered brick facades untreated to conserve traces of the building’s 150-year history whilst window frames and rendered areas were decorated in grey tones to create subtle, soft and understated facades.


Project size

285 m2

Site size

800 m2

Completion date


Building levels


Project team

Patalab Architecture