This beautiful former artist’s studio unfolds over the top floor of a Grade II-listed Victorian house in Hampstead. Commissioned by the late children’s illustrator Kate Greenaway, the house was built in 1885 by the architect Richard Norman Shaw and is an exceptional example of the Queen Anne Revival style. The diagonal orientation of the living area was purposefully designed to fill the room with even north-eastern light, providing the perfect setting for painting without glare. As a result of its sloping ceilings, simple architraves and sometimes surprisingly placed quarry-style windows, the interior spaces have a unique, subtle glow. Perched at the foot of a hill, it sits moments from the bustle of Hampstead’s high street while being surrounded by tall, mature London plain trees with windows framing immaculate garden views from every aspect.
Setting the Scene
The earliest settlement of the area was in the 15th century and was likely found near the junction of Frognal and Frognal Lane. The road developed gradually, and by the 18th century was praised for its “salubrity of air and soil, in the neighbourhood of pleasure and business”. The large houses were favoured by lawyers and merchants, and it became known as a “hamlet of handsome residences”, surrounded by groves and gardens “of an extent begrudged by builders”.
Frognal was extended southwards in the 1880s and lined with distinct houses, including two designed by Richard Norman Shaw: the rather gothic Frognal Priory designed for Edwin Tate, and the Queen Anne-style house for Kate Greenaway.
The Grand Tour
Referred to by Historic England as a “studio-house”, its prominent red brick facade has been wonderfully preserved. Hanging fish-scale tiles characterise the upper floors, while tall slab chimney stacks and a large bargeboard gable define its detached profile; such features were often employed in Shaw’s domestic architecture during this time. It sits set back from the road behind a low parapet wall with mature shrubs for privacy. A short set of steps cuts through an immaculate front garden filled with wildflower daisies and a broad variety of mature ferns, leading towards a doorway with architraves, a bracketed hood and a part-glazed panelled front door.
The house unfolds across three floors and has been split into three separate dwellings via a communal staircase and lobby area, painted in a soft lemon yellow. The original balustrade remains, as do the small-paned transom and mullioned windows which punctuate the ground level. Entrance to the apartment lies on the third floor via an internal staircase, which ascends to the wonderfully open landing painted in a dusty pink shade by Farrow and Ball. From here, wide doorways lead to a spacious double bedroom and a separate shower room.
The studio itself was built to be sparse yet charming. Shaw’s economical use of material and design are most evident by the fireplaces, one of which lies in what is now the kitchen and living area. Large double doors at the entrance allow a sense of grandeur and flow while framing the elegant windows and skylight opposite. Arguably the most striking focal point, the unusual angular position of the room allows north-east facing light to illuminate the space throughout the day.
A contemporary kitchen and island cleverly bounds the room at one end. Simple clean lines have been employed here so as not to disturb the original fabric of the surrounding interior. A useful pantry cupboard sits behind, with plenty of open shelving for storage. Further storage sits opposite behind two original doors, still with their brass fittings, with small windows inside.
The Great Outdoors
The angular shape of the balcony was purposefully designed to face north-east to ensure plenty of even light poured into the studio. Its unusual configuration adds a wonderful sense of extension while complimenting the interior spaces with its exceptional views across the rear gardens and mature trees. Enclosed by a white painted fence, there’s plenty of space to house a table and chairs for outdoor dining and entertaining.
Out and About
The house is just a few minutes’ walk from the delights that make Hampstead one of the most sought-after locations in London. Hampstead High Street offers a plethora of boutiques, cafes and eateries, including Jin Kichi, Oddono’s Gelati, Ginger & White, Gail’s and the famous Hampstead Crêperie. There are several cosy pubs nearby, including The Horseshoe, The Flask and The Holly Bush, while the open expanse of Hampstead Heath is just minutes away. The internationally acclaimed Camden Art Centre is nearby, and some of London’s best independent schools can be reached on foot.
Hampstead Station (Northern Line) is an 11-minute walk from the house, while Finchley Road and Frognal Overground Station is only 6 minutes away by foot.
Lease Length: approx. 85 years remaining
Service Charge: approx. £512 per annum
Council Tax Band: G
Katherine Greenaway was born in Hoxton in 1846 and from an early age she was interested in theatre and exploring the illustrations of the leading periodicals. Enrolling at the Finsbury School of Art at 12 years old, her artistic education continued at the National Art Training School, the Heatherley School of Fine Art and the Slade School of Fine Art.
Her work was heavily influenced by the picturesque and caricaturist style of the 1830s and 40s, and her distinct style was initially exercised in her first book illustration was published in 1867. Twelve years later, she found huge commercial success with Under the Window, her first children’s picture book which sold over 100,000 copies in her lifetime.
Following her achievements and popularity, she moved from Upper Holloway to Hampstead in February 1885, enlisting Richard Norman Shaw, the architect of Marcus Stone’s studio house, to design her house at Frognal. It was intended as a modest four-bed home, true to the Queen Anne style popularised by the architect’s work in Kensington. Greenaway’s house is delightfully clever, charming and home to a top-floor studio orientated to ensure the ideal quality of light for her work.
Architectural plans of Greenaway’s Hampstead have been previously presented in the RA summer exhibition.
- A Home with a History: an interiors maven’s Georgian house in Kent
- Singular Appeal: five one-bedroom homes for saleHomes
- A Private View: from beige to beautiful in south-west LondonHomes / Interiors
- Inspiration of the Week: a picture of the simple life, deep in the Welsh countryside
- Inigo Revisits: Charles and Romilly Saumarez Smith’s art-filled 18th-century townhouseHomes / Interiors