Defoe Road Warehouse Transformed Into Trendy Home |
Defoe Road Storage Chaos Transformed Into Warm Stylish Home

Defoe Road Storage Chaos Transformed Into Warm Stylish Home

Transformation complete

Isobel McKenzie
Written by –
Isobel McKenzie
on November 27th 2017
Originally from London, Isobel is enthralled by the curves and lines that make up a city. It's fascinating to see how modern skyscrapers and historic landmarks muddle together. Her Instagram feed @Isobel_McKenzie is usually full of spiral staircases and tall buildings. Can also be found on Twitter.. sometimes.

Defoe Road


Once a warehouse, formerly a school house and finally a house to call home. The Defoe Road project was a personal development idea from Paper House Project; a London-based architecture and design studio set up by James Davies in 2014.

Defoe Road Home Tour featuring Crittall Windows and a brick courtyard |

Davies cleaned up the building’s brickwork, inspired by his belief that moods, well-being and happiness is all shaped by the things that surround us. As a passion project, the blank slate allowed him to play around with the incredible height and structure of the building. Choosing bits of the puzzle that fit, and adapting others at will.

External doors featuring Crittall Windows and a brick courtyard |

The project wasn’t about maximizing profit.

From the designers:

Our priority was to retain as much of the existing building as possible and to bring it back to life, opting for double height space over floor area as the project wasn’t about maximizing profit.

Street view of Defoe Road Paper House |

Crittall windows are installed to provide a sturdy and strong frame, with beautiful natural light streaming into the space. This worked out well, as it was eventually sold to an artist who bought the house because of the incredible natural light. Now she uses the space as a studio.

Daytime view of tall industrial-type windows against brick exterior |

One of the biggest difficulties of the project was accessibility.


The building is a mere stone’s throw away from a busy Hackney High Street, a currently popular and trendy London district. While not always so trendy, it has always been busy. Around 15 years ago, buildings began to pop up around this one, leaving it “landlocked” with little accessibility to the street.


Falling into disrepair, the building had been used as a storage area since. Davies’ determination to bring water and electricity services meant digging up turf and arrangements across third party land, after careful negotiations with leaseholders and freeholders in the surrounding properties. But the results have proved worth it.

Defoe Road city garden with brick walls |

A boon for the space is its courtyard, created out of the corner shape of the buildings. Standing in the kitchen and looking out gives you a feeling of serenity and calm.

Nighttime snapshot of the interiors in Defoe Road Paper House Project |
Zen bedroom design with Crittall windows |

The room downstairs is a bedroom, with a door launching straight out to the courtyard. Also, the perfect spot for a home office or studio space that looks out to the world?

Kitchen view with table bench setup |

The kitchen and living room are combined in one big open plan area on street level.

Gray and black colors dominate in Defoe Road kitchen |

A monochrome palette offers a simple backdrop for mealtimes, and the timber’s figure is a gorgeous wave of ripples.

Kitchen with lofty gabled ceiling and monochrome palette |

Perfectly angled, the lighting and tables balance out the room either side of the double-height windows. A pitched roof ceiling becomes a prominent feature, catching your gaze and lengthening the room.

Warm wood tones for staircase in monochrome living area |
Shelving and Scandi-style furniture in the home office |

A nook is carved out for studying, with eco-friendly materials in a soothing tone.

Quiet nook for study |
Detailed wall trimmings |
Living room in monochrome setting |

Keeping it an open plan living area was simple to do, given the great shape of the structure. From the living room you can access a bedroom and bathroom, with a staircase for a master bedroom upstairs.

Black and white repeating shapes in the hallways - lighting, framing, living |
Tall ceilings bring in plenty of light to Defoe Road home |

I love the panels in different materials which act as a backdrop to the sofa, and provide the framework for the upstairs floor plan.

Lighting above wooden walls creates interesting texture |
Paper House Project and perfectly styled monochrome living room |
White bathroom with a clear shower door giving impeccable lines |
Bedroom sits in the ceiling |

I myself had the loft bedroom, growing up. I’ll admit I wasn’t particularly good at waking up in the morning, but I didn’t have the same light streaming through a skylight like in this room! Skylights provide more than enough daytime light to make sure this room stays well lit.

Master suite with bathroom |

The room is easy to maintain, thanks to its minimal fixtures and fittings. The bathroom boasts a full bathtub in close proximity to the bedroom, tucked beneath the gabled roof.

Bathroom in the gables |
Gray tones in the bathroom |

What advice would you give yourself looking back at the project?

We underestimated the complexity of bringing services (water, electricity, data) across third-party land. I’d have prepared myself better had I known how stressful it was going to be.

BEFORE photos from the Defoe Road Paper House Project |

Going from dark and dingy to bright and breezy takes a lot of effort, but the results are simply stunning.


Want to see more great content? Don’t forget to subscribe to us at, follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Read about this month’s design tips or swipe through our guide to why wood panels work (and don’t have to remind you of the 70s).


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*This article has been amended to further clarify a comment from the artist’s interview.


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