Mama admires interior designer Yoko Kloeden’s major renovation of her three-storey family home in Richmond
This Victorian semi-detached house had been covered with ivy for 30 years and internally it was a patchwork of DIY building works done by the previous owners. The project included demolishing the poorly-done ground-floor extension, gutting and stripping the entire house, rebuilding the rear extension to make a large family area, adding two rooms to the loft level as the second floor and refurbishing the whole house including the exterior and the garden. With the help of Ampersand Architecture, the house was converted to a spacious four-bedroom, two-bathroom house with a large family area and a home office. The cool colour palettes were chosen to keep the mood (and the children) calm and serene, while robust and repairable natural materials were chosen to withstand busy family life.
An entrance hallway sets the mood of the house. Having searched for wall coverings that represent the house’s low-key yet elegant aesthetics, Yoko chose clay plaster for its tactile texture, calm appearance, easy maintenance and environmental credentials. It also gives a nod to her Japanese background, as clay plastering has long been used in traditional houses in Japan. The hexagon floor tiles are a contemporary take on traditional encaustic tiles and made of porcelain to withstand daily foot and buggy traffic. The joint between the hexagon tiles and the herringbone oak flooring of the open-plan area was worked out on-site between the designer and the contractor.
The originally enclosed hallway was opened up and now leads to an open-plan family area that accommodates a lounge, kitchen, dining and children’s play/homework zone. Different shades of blue and green accent the room, including Moroccan hand-glazed tile cladding on the chimney breast. The colours are inspired by Yoko’s Bitossi Rimini Blue pottery collection.
When the family bought the house, the rear extension had to be demolished and rebuilt. A large rooflight was installed over the kitchen, flooding the room with natural light despite it being in the middle of the house. The kitchen doors, drawers and cover panels with brass recess were designed by Yoko to fit IKEA carcasses and crafted by her skilled joiner. A slab of Carrara marble was chosen for the splashback to glam up the kitchen and worktops are Silestone in a similar shade, chosen for its durability.
Both children’s rooms’ chimney breasts were demolished to make the most of the space. The girl’s room follows a forest theme and the colour palette was taken from the vintage rug bought in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. Yoko’s work is often inspired by her travel and vintage rugs scattered throughout the house are some of her favourites. The pink is limited to paints so it can be easily repainted when her three‐year-old daughter grows out of the colour.
Previously, the garden was cluttered with overgrown bushes and trees and the previous owner’s DIY decking; it could only be accessed from a small side door. Consequently, it was never used. The full-height Crittall-style doors were installed to lead out to the walled garden and Yoko designed a built-in bench. Now it is a perfect entertainment spot for her family and friends.
A corner of this bedroom was previously cut out to create what was supposed to be an ensuite bathroom. Because of this, the room and the corridor were awkwardly shaped and the natural light was blocked. Yoko returned the room to its original rectangular shape and allowed the light to come through. The children’s rooms were designed around the concept of forest bathing – the Japanese practice of basically just being in the woods. She was hoping the forest mural and a tranquil colour palette would have a calming effect on her two boys but the effect is still to be proven. The floorboards are original Victorian pine sanded back and white oiled by the contractor of the project.