Who are you: Helen & Pete. We are both architects, each with our own practices: Leask Architecture & Studio Gray.
Location: Hawley Square, Margate.
Years lived in house: We completed on the purchase of the house on Burns night in January 2013 (we had a dram!): so over two and a half wonderful, life-changing years.
Age of Property: Late 1700s: Hawley Square was the first Georgian garden square to be built in Margate.
Favourite colours / materials to work with: We both like to work with a palette of natural materials, in both authentic and unfamiliar ways. We have used a lot of oak and brickwork where we have made new interventions within the building refurbishment. The Farrow and Ball ‘Railings’ wall colour in the lower ground floor is a favourite of the generally grey spectrum within the house, as it is strong but creates a more intimate mood. Colour is added through the furniture and artwork: we have become avid (obsessive) collectors of work by the enormous talent pool of Margate-based artists.
Inspiration: We drew inspiration for the interiors from an array of projects & sources, starting with the original Listed Georgian architecture of the house, which we were keen to respect and conserve. The Finnish architect Alvar Aalto was a big influence on the design of new spaces and their relationship to the outside, plus the brickwork arrangement in the garden is a small homage to his experimental summer house. Our love of Californian Case Study Houses and Scandinavian furniture design influenced the design of our bespoke joinery and kitchen. The Danish concept of ‘hygge’ was an ethos we wanted to imbue throughout.
Most successful thing about the house: Probably the overall cohesiveness and specifically the reworking of the lower ground floor, as this is the most sociable and well-used area of the house: it is where everyone hangs out when they come over. The kitchen, pantry and dining area and their relationship to the garden has been really successful. And everyone loves the Petersen brick floor! We have also really enjoyed being in the garden this summer: it is somewhere between a small English walled garden and New York roof terrace.
Best thing about where you live: The people, being 500m from the beach, “Margate Moments” and those Turner skies. We have such fantastic neighbours around the square and so many wonderful new friends all around Margate. We have never felt so welcome or part of a community anywhere else. Literally the day we moved to the town our neighbours knocked on the door and invited us over for a drink: it is just like that here. The pro-active ‘can do’ energy we sensed in the town four years ago (when we first decided to move here) has gained momentum and it is infectious. Everything feels possible. Moving to Margate is the best decision we have ever made!