When Lisa O’Hagan and her husband, Jonathan, stumbled across their current home in the heart of East London in 2018, it was the quirky shape and unconventional layout that caught their eye. This end-of-terrace property was once a Georgian shed, which had been converted into a large garage and studio downstairs, with a two-bedroom property covering the upper two floors.
“It seemed to offer more than the average house, with three different outdoor spaces – a paved courtyard, a roof terrace and a back garden,” says Lisa. “The end-of-terrace plot was wedge-shaped, tapering almost to a point at the end of the garden. This gave the layout a unique charm. Rather than expand, we saw the potential to create something very special.
The owners Lisa O’Hagan, senior development manager and owner of a vintage clothing business @thehackneywardrobe (opens in a new tab)lives here with her husband, Jonathan Bishop, an aerospace engineer, and their son, Cillian
The property A four-bed Georgian coachhouse, built in 1890, in Clapton, east London
Project cost £102,000
Together, they imagined designs that embrace the asymmetrical shape of the house. The obvious thing to do was to move the first floor kitchen and living rooms to the ground floor and reconfigure the upstairs rooms into two more bedrooms, with a guest and family bathroom on each floor . The large garage and studio lent themselves to being an open concept multifunctional room; the ceilings were high and by opening up the hallway and stairs the room has a real sense of scale.
“Jon and I love the creative process and the sense of accomplishment we get when we complete tasks unaided,” says Lisa. “Our starting point for any project is deciding if we should pay a contractor or if we can do the work ourselves. Invariably, we end up getting stuck!
Read on to do the full trick.
Over the next five months, and before their son was born, Cillian, Lisa and Jon did most of the dirty work, tearing down walls, exposing brickwork, removing interior fittings and creating a blank canvas for the new layout. page. An important part of the couple’s design was to bring more light into the property. With no windows between the old garage doors at the front and back of the house, the downstairs was dark and oppressive. The front of the house has been opened up and custom floor-to-ceiling glass and steel doors have been installed, which flood the space with light and connect the front yard.
“We love the space and the gallery feel of the ground floor and how unconventional it is,” says Lisa. “I like the simplicity and robustness of the materials used. It’s a great space for entertaining and perfect for Cillian to cruise around on her scooter. It took Jon two weeks to painstakingly remove the paint from the back wall to expose the original brickwork below. There are still bits of paint and plaster. “I love how it adds to the rustic vibe of the room,” adds Lisa.
The industrial feel continues with polished heated concrete flooring in the living room, and Jon, a skilled carpenter, has built steps up to the kitchen, as well as birch partitions to define the spaces. “We like simple, honest materials and have tried to apply a simple, rugged aesthetic to every area of the house,” says Lisa.
The kitchen was long enough for a large vintage table with mismatched vintage chairs. “The table was a great find,” says Lisa. “We knew the minute we saw it that it would bring the kitchen to life.”
The couple wanted the kitchen to have a utilitarian feel, so Jon designed a single series of built-in units made from the same birch plywood with clean lines that make the most of the room’s unusual angles. “Terrazzo and cork tiles on the walls and floor add warmth and texture, and a table crafted from reclaimed roof wood completes the space,” says Lisa. “It has a lovely rustic feel, which contrasts with the kitchen’s simple palette.
“The cork floor is something we absolutely wanted. I like its warmth, durability as a material and how quiet it is underfoot – which is important in an open space. The terrazzo tiles in the kitchen are leftovers from the bathroom. It was one of the most expensive materials we bought, so having the right amount left over for our kitchen was amazing – zero waste!
Sleek stair rods are a safety feature that creates separation without affecting the light and open feeling of the living area.
Costs & contacts
Construction works and materials £48,000
Concrete floor £9,000
Furnishings and finishes £8,000
Kitchen, layout and appliances £9,000
Bathroom tiling and fittings £4,000
Professional fees £3,000
Upstairs, space was taken from the two upstairs bedrooms to make a modern bathroom, with a skylight and a walk-in shower. The mid-century style bathroom has been fitted with a reed glass door, with a vintage sideboard from @vintiquelondon (opens in a new tab) converted into a sink. Terrazzo tiles and black paint tie the scheme together, and a full-length skylight floods the room with light. “You can see the sky when you take a shower,” says Lisa.
A simple pine bed and armchair furnish Cillian’s nursery, while a bright green wall and vintage airplane shelf add interest to the smallest room in the house.
Bedrooms have been redecorated in a relaxed style and an office/workspace has been created in the former first floor lounge for Lisa’s vintage fashion business, @thehackneywardrobe (opens in a new tab). “Fortunately, we share a very similar aesthetic and people often remark that it’s a ‘very Lisa and Jon house’, which we take as a compliment.”
The home has been furnished with furniture and fabrics that reflect the couple’s love of mid-century design and complement the simple, timeless materials used throughout the renovation.
“Most are vintage,” says Lisa. “It’s important to us that finding furniture for our home is an organic process – rather than going out and buying a new sofa or rug, we like to find interesting pieces when we least expect it.”
The bedroom leads to the sunny terrace. “The floral print of the William Morris duvet is nostalgic and a nod to the textile designer’s East London roots,” says Lisa.
The guest bedroom also serves as an office for Jon. “So we wanted the space to be bright and airy,” says Lisa. The couple made design decisions that embraced the original space and created a functional, characterful home. “It’s been hard work, but our unique family home fills us with pride – we’re thrilled!”