Home Tour | House on the Corner by Michaelis Boyd and Simone McEwan

  • Architects Michaelis Boyd and interior designer Simone McEwan transform a heritage-listed Victorian building in Highgate, London, into a vibrant family home.

    A London bygone has been reshaped for a modern family and now evokes the words ‘playful’, ‘comfortable’ and ‘tactile’. Before undergoing this transformation, the building was fondly referred to by locals as “the house on the corner”; a reputation Michaelis Boyd and Simone McEwan were determined to uphold.

    The dining area opens onto the rear garden through heritage-style steel-framed doors, flooding the space in natural light. 

    In the dining space, an expansive leather banquette sofa provides ample opportunity for gathering and entertaining. The table is by St Paul Home, the chairs are Carl Hansen Wishbone chairs and the light is the Herman Miller Saucer pendant.

    Heritage-listed buildings with a modern design sensibility dominate Michaelis Boyd’s portfolio of residential projects. The brief for House on the Corner was to revitalise an old brick building without taking away its inherent character. 

    The reconfigured main house comprises a kitchen, living room, dining room, boot room, entertainment room, common room, study, five bedrooms, four bathrooms and two powder rooms, split across four levels. The existing garage has been converted into a new family room connecting to the main house via a passage clad in vertical timber slats.

    The owner’s photography studio is a new addition to the site, located parallel to the main house, looking onto the landscaped garden. Lying low and clad in vertical charred timber boards, the studio is immersed within the greenery.

    Marrying the traditional and the contemporary, the entire ground floor is lined with reclaimed timber floorboards, while the first, second and third floors are lined with new oak. The Flos Gatto table lamp features on a vintage bar cart.

    Bold natural stone appears in the Plain English kitchen, as well as in the bathrooms, to contrast with the wood textures. The brass pendant light is by Workstead.

    “We wanted to create a real sense of fluidity between spaces – the central staircase was intentionally pulled away from the back elevation to create space, which in turn allows light to flood down through the open void, illuminating the house on every level and in every room.”


    – Alex Michaelis, co-founder of Michaelis Boyd

    Furniture selections toggle between playful and classic. In the living room, Simone has paired two mustard-coloured Cassina 637 Utrecht armchairs with a Gervasoni Ghost sofa. Wall panelling here was reinstated in order to stay true to the building’s period details. Lighting pieces include the Oluce Atollo 235 and Herman Miller Nelson Ball Bubble pendant.

    The main goal for the interiors was to provide a backdrop for a convivial family who regularly welcome guests into their home. “The house is highly inclusive and often multi-generational. Many opportunities were created for ‘hanging out’ together,” Simone says. The expansive leather banquette sofa in the dining space is one of these opportunities; it can be used for large dinner parties or Sunday brunch spreads.

    Striking moments of colour were introduced to offset the architecture’s neutral tones, including a petrol-blue family room, forest-green study and egg-yolk-yellow powder room. The furniture selections are more classic and paired back, with the exception of some brightly-coloured pieces, such as the Cassina armchairs in the living room. A similar approach was taken to lighting, with some – the Herman Miller paper pendant hanging above the dining table, for example – being more subtle, and others – the &Tradition pendants in the study and kid’s room, for example – being bolder.

    “For the owners, the interior design was to be simple and comfortable, playing with subtleties of light, texture and natural wood. Laid-back and unpretentious, materials were chosen for their tactility and ability to beautifully patina over time.”


    – Simone McEwan

    The existing garage has been converted into a vibrant, blue-themed family room. The space features two Vitra Cork side tables, a Vitra modular sofa and ottoman, an Armadillo rug, and vintage brass wall lights. Graphic artwork and various objet d’art line the blue shelves.

    The Serge Mouille Antony wall light in one of the bedrooms.

    The study features the Herman Miller Eames Soft Pad Management chair, Rose Uniacke Refectory table and &Tradition Flowerpot pendant light.

    The &Tradition Flowerpot pendant light and Herman Miller Eames moulded plastic armchair with rocker base in one of the kid’s bedrooms.

    A passage clad in vertical timber slats connects the main part of the house to the new family room.

    The street facade was left untouched to anchor the home to the past and create a strong juxtaposition with the modern interiors.

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