Bindloss Dawes maximises light and space in London mews house

Architecture firm Bindloss Dawes has reorganised a mews house in Chelsea, adding a full-height lightwell with a dramatic oak-and-steel staircase to forge “a sense of volume and theatre”.

The client initially commissioned Bindloss Dawes to simply create a more spacious kitchen and living area on the lower ground floor of this typical London property and improve its relationship to the garden.

Kitchen and dining room of Chelsea Mews House
Bindloss Dawes has completed the Chelsea Mews House in London

But as the project progressed, the studio was asked to extend its remit to the entire residence to create a more holistic scheme.

“Chelsea Mews House highlights that large spaces aren’t always needed,” Bindloss Dawes told Dezeen. “It’s about creating something pragmatic and beautiful that clients will treasure.”

“This is a small terraced house, and we’ve elevated it by bringing in daylight and giving it a sense of volume and theatre.”

Garden doors in London house by Bindloss Dawes
The house now features a sunken concrete floor in the basement

As part of the renovation, Bindloss Dawes updated the three-storey house from a dark and cramped two-bedroom to a simplified one-bedroom layout, making the most of the awkward trapezoidal plan with its angular walls and junctions.

Working within the planning constraints of a conservation area in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Bindloss Dawes dropped the level of the lower ground floor to create a more impressive space.

Concrete staircase with wooden banister in Chelsea Mews House
The studio also added a new three-storey staircase

“Digging down 50 centimetres unlocked the opportunity to create new volumes, which in a tight footprint goes a long way to enhancing the spatial quality,” the studio said.

This newly created spaciousness at the lower level is accentuated by the addition of a lightwell that cuts through all three storeys of the home, connecting them via a custom staircase while drawing sunshine deep into the basement.

Wood and concrete staircase in London house by Bindloss Dawes
The staircase traverses a full-height lightwell drawing sun into the interior

“The previous configuration did the house a disservice,” Bindloss Dawes said. “It has wonderful bones that we have celebrated by opening up and creating a void, which draws light right into the depths of the space.”

Meanwhile, a subtle glass extension projects approximately 50 centimetres beyond the rear facade into the garden to increase the sense of light and space without significantly altering the exterior.

A thoughtful and restrained material palette was crucial to the success of the project, according to Bindloss Dawes.

“By embracing simplicity, maximising light and space, and employing a careful selection of materials, we’ve crafted a home that balances functionality with elegance,” the studio said.

Venetian polished plaster in a Marmorino finish by Calfe Crimmings was used on the walls throughout the home, creating a sense of tactility.

Staircase in Chelsea Mews House
The steps are finished in European oak while the balusters are steel

Expressed concrete brings a grounding element to the basement level, with concrete skirting that seamlessly extends onto the steps leading up into the courtyard garden.

Concrete was also used to form the first flight of the new three-storey staircase, while the upper levels are finished in European oak to match the handrail.

The steel balusters were painted in the same grey-based white by Farrow & Ball that was also used on woodwork and ceilings throughout the house.

Bedroom in London house by Bindloss Dawes
The bedrooms are hidden behind subtle pocket doors

To eliminate visual breaks to the lightwell, pocket doors were strategically incorporated at the bedroom level.

“The project exemplifies how highly detailed yet simple design can work to great effect within tight city footprints,” said Bindloss Dawes.

The homeowner, a talented craftsman and metalworker, personally designed and created the lighting fixtures, adding a personal touch to the home.

Exterior of Chelsea Mews House
The home is a traditional mews house in Chelsea

Previous projects from Bindloss Dawes, which was founded by Oliver Bindloss and George Dawes in 2018, include a timber car barn for a collector of classic Porsches.

The studio is based in Bruton – a village in Somerset that has drawn an increasingly metropolitan crowd in recent years after contemporary art gallery Hauser & Wirth opened an outpost in the area in 2014.

The photography is by Building Narratives.

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