They finally landed on an 1880s three storey terraced property on Zealand Road in Mile End, which they bought for £110,000 in 1995 from friends of friends.
It was a family house moments away from Victoria Park and it was suited to homeworking. The dwelling was in a decent state but, over time, it failed to keep pace as their two daughters (Lotte, 17 years old, and Vita, 19 years old) were growing up and required their own privacy.
So, in 2014, they decided to revamp the house by embarking on a remodelling project while retaining its historic heritage. The new vision for the home was designed by Antonius with the help of a technical architect as a two storey glazed and galvanised steel structure to the rear left, with a more traditional brick third storey extension to the right to accommodate an additional bedroom and a working space for Claire’s fashion business.
The overall project took nine months and was completed in November 2014. The total cost came to £150,000 and the end result means the house is worth around £1m, ten times the value it was when they bought it.
Due to the property’s Conservation Area status, they had to ensure that every new addition could be returned to its original form so they opted to keep the period rear door and window. Furthermore, they had to receive permission from the neighbouring school to increase the ceiling height.
The pair were both heavily involved in the project although they have quite individual tastes: Claire is passionate about period features and has a sharp eye for collectibles, whereas Antonius is has more contemporary sensibilities and prefers an industrial steel look.
They found common ground in their preference for honest materials, so they decided to opt for European oak and birch plywood for the interior and exposed bare brick and galvanised metal structures for the exterior.
Antonius manages a London-based company, Kaizen Furniture, so he took on the challenge of designing practical yet attractive pieces to complement the existing architecture of the building.
The family combined designer elements, including chairs by Piet Hein Eek, the Dutch furniture artist who introduced scrapwood accessories in the corporate world, and they also included tailor-made elements for the kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms, living areas and Claire’s workroom.
Antonius’ biggest challenge was creating an ideal office workshop for his wife Claire in the new extension space.
The room had to be spacious and bright, so he came up with the concept of a double-sided work station/cutting table, which can be moved from side to side on a rail track integrated into the glass floor, and can be ‘parked’ away when not in use.