This wonderful light-filled one-bedroom apartment in the middle of St John’s Wood has recently undergone a thoughtful and sympathetic restoration, marrying practicality with elegance. Unfolding across 533 sq ft of lateral living space, the interiors are finished in a pared-back calming palette of neutral tones allowing natural light to take centre stage. A large kitchen with room for a dining table and chairs and a separate reception room means the apartment is perfect for entertaining. Residents of the building have direct access to the private Alma Square, and the flat has lovely leafy views from its elevated first-floor position.
Setting the Scene
Built in 1850, the house forms part of a pretty residential enclave of St John’s Wood. The area was once a veritable melting pot of creativity, with renowned Dutch artist Lawrence Alma Tadema settling his studio and family at nearby Grove End. St John’s Wood again gained creative acclaim in August 1969, when the Beatles shot the cover of their album on Abbey Road, destined to become the most famous – if not the most famous – of their career. For more information, please see the History section below.
The Grand Tour
Entry to the home is via a corridor with useful bespoke built-in cupboards. Fan lights above each door of the adjoining rooms mean light flows around the space. At the front of the plan, a large reception room has been finished in School House White by Farrow and Ball. A large sash window overlooks the quiet, tree-lined road below, while an original fireplace with beautiful later art nouveau tiles creates a focal point. Wool carpeting runs underfoot, adding warmth and elements of the original plasterwork that have been restored overhead.
At the rear of the plan is a large kitchen. Here, the current owners have cleverly built in bespoke seating against one wall, allowing for a dining space that can seat six but doesn’t take up much room; cushions are covered in white boucle, adding a dash of texture while subtly blending with the walls, creating a sense of space. Warmth has been brought into this room through the materials; parquet flooring runs underfoot, complemented by the grey wooden cabinetry, which is topped by heavy and hardy stone worktops, introducing layered materiality. A deep ceramic sink is accented with brass taps, while a Smeg hob and fridge freezer are cleverly concealed in the cabinetry.
Adjacent to the kitchen is the calming bedroom. Walls here are painted in School House White by Farrow and Ball, in keeping with the rest of the apartment and act as a canvas for the leafy treetops framed by a sash window. The fireplace has been opened, with its original brick exposed, and wooden wall moulding nods to the building’s Victorian origins.
The bathroom is clad in a beautiful honed grey Carrara marble, echoing the kitchen, with an unusual octagon cut-out incorporated above the bath (a useful place to hold toiletries); chrome Burlington fittings complement the space.
The Great Outdoors
With rolling lawns and mature trees, the apartment benefits from access to residents-only Alma Square. The open spaces of Primrose Hill and Regent’s Park are also within close walking distance.
Out and About
The property is within a short walk of the shops, cafés and restaurants of St John’s Wood High Street, including Yūgen and the lovely Panzer’s deli for supplies. St John’s Wood is a conservation area known for its 19th-century architecture and landmarks such as Abbey Road and Lord’s cricket ground. The leafy streets of Maida Vale are within easy reach on foot, and Church Street market is open every day for fruit and veg and vintage furniture. The Canal offers a lovely walk towards Little Venice in one direction and Regent’s Park in the other.
St John’s Wood underground station (Jubilee Line) is within ten minutes’ walk, while Warwick Avenue (Bakerloo Line) and Marylebone (Bakerloo Line and National Rail services to Oxford and Birmingham) are also close by. The Westway provides easy access out of London and Heathrow Airport.
Lease Length: approx. 143 years remaining
Service Charge: approx. £1,800 pa
Ground Rent: approx. £25 pa
Council Tax Band: E
As the name suggests, St. John’s Wood was once a dense oak forest, part of the ‘Great Forest of Middlesex’ that extended north-west from London and beyond. In 1323, the area was bestowed upon the Knights of the Order of St John of Jerusalem – hence the name St. John’s Wood was born.
The land remained forested until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 when the land reverted to the Crown. Henry VIII established hunting grounds in nearby Marylebone Park (now Regent’s Park), and the trees of St John’s Wood were felled to meet the demand for timber to build ships and royal palaces. In the 19th century, St John’s Wood came into the hands of the Eyre family, who transformed it into London’s first garden suburb – Alma Square was laid out in the 1860s as a private garden for the use of the inhabitants of the surrounding houses.
However, by the early twentieth century, organisations such as the London County Council (LCC) became increasingly concerned with preserving these spaces for all Londoners, for ‘play, rest and recreation’. Following public outcries at the loss of gardens at Mornington Crescent and Endsleigh Gardens, the Royal Commission recommended the preservation of 461 squares and green enclosures across the capital. The preservation order included Alma Square, described as a “well-kept and attractive ornamental garden, adding considerably to the amenities of the dwelling houses adjoining it”.
Interested? Let’s talk
- Home Comforts: Arthur Parkinson on all things fair and fowlLeisure
- Inspiration of the Week: histories ancient and modern mingle in a Gloucestershire treasureHomes
- Built to Last: Inigo’s founders become honorary fellows of the RIBA
- A Room (or Two) of One’s Own: Buchanan Studio’s boundary-pushing ablution solutionsInteriors
- A Maker’s Story: Margit Wittig on playing with patina – and finding the perfect amount of imperfection