Our home tour today is a two bedroom factory conversion in Dalston. For centuries London has been a bustling hub of industry, but as factory work shifts away from the city, industrial buildings are being transformed to meet rising demand for housing.
House of Sylphina
This old textile factory building was converted into a row of houses in 2005. The home belongs to interior designer and architect Sharon Toong, from House of Sylphina. When choosing the property, the estate agent had grown up in the area and remembered what the building was like as a factory. It wasn’t an enviable spot, because access to the property wasn’t great, and the interiors were dimly lit. But the ceiling height and robust indoor space made it the perfect spot for creating a home. Toong swept in and transformed the space.
Open Plan Layout
The main requirement of the home was to create an open plan layout on the ground level. Simple and easy. The living room and kitchen are all in one space, making the most of the room available. Bi-fold doors open up to a patio area, creating even more space when the weather is right. The full wall of windows welcomes in the light.
Home Decor Balance
The room feels perfectly composed for feng shui home decor balance. The Wood elements of the room are matched with the Metal elements of the kitchen. In turn the Fire elements are there with enough lighting and heating for the room, balanced by the Water elements of the mirror and windows. The earthy muted tones of the flooring and long heavy console table bring everything back to the soothing Earth element.
What were the design inspirations behind the home?
Toong: I was going through a bit of a gray phase, so I was experimenting with various shades and combinations. At the same time I didn’t want it to feel too sterile so I made sure to keep the warmth of the timber floor running through the property and continued it through with the choice of furnishing.
No space was left unused and we created a larder to store food under the stairs.
The footprint of the building is actually quite narrow, only 4m across. At ground level this gets especially tight where the stairs are, and the living space is only 3m wide. It took a few revisions to figure out the best way to lay out the kitchen to make the most of the space, and to incorporate a kitchen island which is a real feature. No space was left unused and we created a larder to store food under the stairs.
What are the characteristics that make this a Dalston home?
Toong: The design is generally quite urban which fits in with the area and the period of building. I selected a number of contemporary reflective metal pendant lights and combined them with vintage pieces of furniture which I think makes the whole scheme more edgy.
Triceratops Wall Art
For the garden wall, Toong commission a striking mural design from British graffiti artist Andy Council. The design is a unique piece, tying together iconic buildings from Toong and her partner’s passion for architecture, into a triceratops. It’s become a real feature of the whole ground level space.
Toong: The mural on the back wall is a representation of us. He grew up in California, I grew up in Hong Kong and we met in London, so there are a number of iconic buildings we’ve included from each place. He’s also an architect and we actually met at work so we included one of the projects we worked on together, the Dai Show Theatre in Xishuangbanna.
What are your tips for making cramped spaces feel larger?
Try to keep the spaces as open as possible. If you need to, use large full height panels of glazing to separate spaces as this allows for a visual connection and the brain registers it as one space. Mirrors are also great for making a space feel bigger and for reflecting light.
The Dalston House project brings together the edgy cool of the neighborhood with its industrial roots. The property is transformed into a home with a youthful and energetic feel. With its blend of vintage furniture matched alongside a kitchen designed for the future, it comes alive with the personal touches found around the home. Not forgetting, of course, how many homes can boast a giant triceratops?