In Pink: Tearing down walls and installing a colorful kitchen gave this Dalston design duo the open-plan home they dreamed of

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he first thing you notice when you arrive at Richard Sorger and Gareth Williams’s in Dalston is the euphoric welcome from Chunky, their 10-year-old Boston terrier.

The second thing is the kitchen, which is pretty pink — from its concrete countertops and kitchen island to the paintwork of its floor-to-ceiling cabinets.

As one would expect for a couple who are both completely immersed in fashion and design, the inspiration for this stylish yet rather polarizing space came from a hip Swedish fashion house.

“It’s actually the pink of Acne Studio’s brand and bags, and we fell in love with it years ago,” says Sorger, 51, an associate professor of fashion at Kingston University.

Richard and Gareth with Chunky the dog in the living room with his pink sofa

/ Adrian Lourie

To recreate the hue, the couple sought out a concrete pink supplier and then the color was matched to their paint. The faucets, pendants and hardware are all black, and the sides of the worktop are covered in a beautiful copper panel.

“We’ve had quite a bit of backlash about it – I think love it or hate it,” says Williams, 55, who heads Middlesex University’s design department. “It doesn’t matter to us though; we did it for us, not because we want to knock the house down.

In fact, Williams and Sorger have owned their three-bedroom home since 2007, but lack of funds prevented them from redesigning or redesigning its layout until 2019.

“What we really liked was that it was wide, so the space was sideways,” says Williams. “But it was a bit shabby and the layout didn’t work at all. It was a maze of small rooms with very little access to the house.

The pink kitchen theme is carried over here and there throughout the rest of the house

/ Adrian Lourie

Back then, the only jobs they were able to do were cosmetic – painting walls and installing an Ikea kitchen.

“It was kind of a tapestry over the cracks,” says Sorger.

enough was enough

By 2019, Sorger and Williams were tired of struggling and hired architects Bradley Van Der Straeten to remodel the mid-19th century home.

The garden takes center stage on the ground floor

/ French + Tye

They suggested emptying the ground floor, removing all but one of its main walls to get rid of the many separate rooms. To enlarge the living space, they designed a full-width extension pushing out into the garden and rebuilt an old lean-to with a outrigger extension, which now houses the kitchen.

The back wall of the house is now mostly glass, meaning the garden takes center stage wherever you are on the ground floor.

All the dismantling of the walls meant that massive new steel beams had to be inserted to support the house. Painted blue, these were left exposed.

The original floors were hopelessly wobbly and have been replaced by elegant herringbone oak planks, while the original staircase, with its slightly steep and narrow steps, has been replaced by an elegant flight of steps closed in plywood.

The walls have been demolished and a full-width extension has been pushed into the garden

/ French + Tye

Upstairs, the back wall was demolished and the rear bedroom extended outwards above the new kitchen, providing additional space for a second bathroom.

The pink kitchen theme is carried over here and there throughout the rest of the house, the sofa in the living room and the bedding in the master bedroom. In general, Sorger and Williams opted for a rather subdued palette of grays and whites, as well as natural materials like wood and exposed brick.

“There’s actually not a lot of color here,” Williams says. “We didn’t go for a lot of patterns either.”

Everything in detail

Given their design background, the attention to detail in this project was forensic – from the way the brick paving in the garden is designed to mirror the herringbone pattern of the interior floors, to the Sight lines through the house so almost anywhere you stand you can see the outside.

More color in the mint bathroom, accessorized with black hardware like the kitchen

/ Adrian Lourie

Even the new pond has been carefully placed in a raised bed so that it is possible to sit at the dining table and watch the fish swim by.

One thing they didn’t have to worry about when planning the house was the furnishings.

They already had a wonderful collection of modern design pieces (Williams used to be curator in the furniture department at the V&A), and have only invested in a new sofa to replace their rather old one and a larger dining table since they have now space.

Sums and setbacks

The work was carried out between December 2019 and November 2020 and cost around £250,000 to execute, a sum comfortably covered by rising house prices in the area since 2007.

What it costs

Three bedroom house in 2007: £775,000

Extension and rear renovation: £250,000

Similar homes nearby have sold: £1.1m to £1.2m

The timing wasn’t the best – the house was basically a building site when the first lockdown was announced in March 2020.

“It was a little nerve-wracking that our house was demolished and no one was working on the site for seven weeks at the start of the pandemic, but in the end it wasn’t delayed very much,” says Williams.

The couple have been working from home in their newly renovated home for around a year, busy in the garden in their spare time, and are still thrilled with what they have achieved.

“I don’t want to sound smug, but we still really enjoy living here,” Williams says. “The novelty has not worn off.”


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