A Private View: Georgie Stogdon on creating a perfect first home in north London
The antiques dealer sensitively restored her apartment around a quiet medley of period features and furnishings
Gut instinct is what first encouraged Curios Shop founder Georgie Stogdon to buy her Victorian apartment in Kentish Town – as well as the fact that it looked like the perfect spot to host the occasional dinner party. Undeterred by the slightly garish interiors introduced by the previous owner, she set about creating relaxed, neutral living spaces that would complement the existing period features and her constantly growing collection of furnishings. Now, as the apartment comes onto the market, Georgie sits down with Inigo to talk more about the home’s renovation process and the bucolic feel of its back garden, plus she shares some of her favourite local haunts.
“When you know, you know. I think you are typically supposed to go and look at lots and lots of houses, but with this one, I couldn’t stop thinking about it – a sure sign that I needed to act. I had actually only looked at one flat prior to this; but the first moment I walked into the sitting room, I just knew – I could see myself having a lovely time and hosting dinners. It ticked every box for me because of its high ceilings, the beautiful original features, the bonus of the garden and the fact it’s a five-minute walk from the tube. I couldn’t really believe my luck; when I lived in Peckham, it was a good 25-minute slog to the Overground.
“I’d been to Kentish Town a couple of times with friends and it had always really struck me as the perfect place to live, because it’s in the absolute middle of London. You can just get everywhere super quickly and there’s so much going on. I also love Hampstead Heath, which is only a 10-minute walk away. It’s so much easier searching for a home if you just pick your area. Also, the girl that lived here before me did all of the viewings, and I think that really helped. She’d lived here for about 10 years and had her first child here. It was just so nice being shown around by somebody who really loved the house, and that made me fall for it a bit more.
“The bones of the flat are so good. You walk in and immediately see these huge high ceilings and this beautiful old cornicing that has been painted over so many times you can’t really decipher what it would have originally been, but it still looks wonderful. The floorboards, the marble fireplace, the view out onto the garden – all of that was there and amazing, but it was just really tired before. I don’t think it had been painted in the last 10 years and it used to have a very narrow galley kitchen; if you had two people trying to cook, you were getting so on top of each other, and it wasn’t a very usable space.
“That was one of the main things that I did in the first lockdown. I knocked a hole in the living room wall in order to give the kitchen two entrances, so it’s a far more fluid space. You can basically walk round in a circle through the kitchen, out through the living room, and back in again. I’ve had many a lovely time with friends sitting around the dining table; if people are here, it means that I can be cooking and still poke my head around to join in the conversation.
“The kitchen also had a very dated, Seventies-style lino floor and a sticky worktop that, no matter how many times you cleaned it, it seemed to have years of grime on it. That was all ripped out, and we got a sleek new kitchen installed by Howdens. I painted it myself; I think it’s quite nice when you’re getting an off-the-shelf kitchen to put your own stamp on it with a different worktop and different doors, so I got a nice new worktop from Retrouvius.
“The previous owner had the entrance painted in red gloss – it was quite cool but it just wasn’t for me. It made a serious impact, but in a really small space it was overwhelming – it was in the only part of the flat that has low ceilings, so it was a bit much. So that went, and we changed it to a neutral cream colour. In the bedroom, the worst bit about it was this thick, high-pile, bright red carpet. That was immediately taken out and I put a classic sisal in. We also did a total overhaul of the garden because it was a complete wilderness at the back.
“You get down to the garden via a set of iron steps. It’s big enough out there to have a little table and chairs, and I’ve also put lots of pots of pretty flowers. Especially at this time of year, and through all the lockdowns, it’s been great to sit outside. It’s a really nice place to watch the world go by, have a coffee in the morning or read the papers. It’s like being in a nature reserve as it’s so quiet, you can really only hear the birds singing. Also, because the gardens are back-to-back, you can’t hear any noise from the road at all. It is an incredibly peaceful area. I know lots of people have recently made a mass exodus to the countryside, but I feel like you get a little bit of countryside here.
“I’m not one for big splashes of colour. I much prefer neutral spaces into which you can inject warmth and interest through furniture and objects. My real passion is for furniture, and I knew that I could build interest through those pieces. I did try to be a little bit more exciting in the bedroom; it’s painted in a bright blue called ‘Parma Gray’ from Farrow & Ball, but I did the ceiling and the walls in the same colour, so that makes quite a big pop. It mixes it up slightly from the very neutral whites and dark blues found in the rest of the house.
“I moved in with pretty much one gorgeous coffee table, and I slowly started collecting bits and pieces around that. I was renting before, so I hadn’t really built up a huge collection of furniture. I have really tried to wait and see what the space has needed before making jerk reactions – I think it’s weird to move into a space having got everything already, because you need to work out what it really requires.
“My business – which I started during lockdown – is buying and selling antique furniture, so I’ve had quite an influx of things coming in. At one point I had 12 chairs in the living room! The apartment has been a studio space for me to photograph pretty things to sell through my Instagram, a space to put up little vignettes that show a bit of my style – it’s given me a platform, in a way, which is so nice. I think I’ll always feel very attached to it for that reason.
“I was definitely set on getting a period home, something with some architectural significance. I do like things that are a little quirky and out of the ordinary. I think that antiques can absolutely sit in a modern home, they work really well – but for my first home, and as someone that really appreciates period features, I wanted my first home to be the perfect backdrop for that.
“I was so lucky in that the space is architecturally really special – there wasn’t much that needed to be done. In terms of original features, there are wooden floorboards in the living room, plus cornicing in the bedroom and beautiful paneling around its large, curved windows. In the living room there’s also a lovely marble fireplace and the original shutters. I don’t really understand why you’d want to take out any of the original features; I hope the next person likes them as much as I do; it would be a shame if they didn’t.
“We’re completely spoilt for choice here; Fortess Road has an amazing French restaurant called Authentique that doubles up as a wine bar and sells amazing meats and cheeses. I’m there a lot – probably too much! Brecknock Road has an incredible bakery called Bread By Bike. It’s also got some really quaint local pubs, like The Pineapple, which is just down the road, and The Southampton Arms, which has proper ales and pork pies – quite old-worldy. There’s also The Heath; I really like swimming, so I go down there quite a lot.
“I’m really lucky that over half of my best friends live in the surrounding streets, so it’s a particularly special place for me – I will probably be hanging around here for many years to come.”
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