Sneak Peek: Esther Boulton of Benson & Boulton

Originally this London home, was composed of seven bedsits. (ed note: Following World War II, bedsits were a way of subdividing larger homes. Occupants would get a single room and share a bathroom). So the first order of business was to strip everything out and return the home to a single family dwelling – one that respected the original home but was light and open. Luckily husband Jeremy Biggin is an architect, who works with reclaimed materials – the kitchen work surface are old chemistry lab counter tops from schools, all the radiators and most of the fireplaces are reclaimed and the kitchen floor is reclaimed and had to be laid block by block. The entire project took a year to complete, and when it was finished, Esther was so weary of making building decisions that she decided to simply paint the entire home white. In the four years, since the family has lived in the home she’s been gradually adding color. Now that the home is mostly done, Esther can focus on her latest passion. Together with friend Belle Benson, Esther started a new company, Benson & Boulton,  to help people get their small business ideas off the ground. They both have ample experience in this area – Belle started her career working with Jonathan Adler and then opened Brooklyn fashion boutiques Bird and Babybird. Esther opened The Duke of Cambridge which was the first Certified Organic Pub in the UK and was a great success. Both women sold their businesses and now through Benson & Boulton are offering people simple and practical ways of turning their ideas into a viable business. Thanks, Esther, Jeremy, Isaac and Keziah! And thanks to Tina Maas for the lovely photographs! –Amy Azzarito

Image above: Our bedroom -The fireplace came from our friends house around the corner, they were redoing their kitchen and didn’t need it anymore. The mirror was from my parents house and was always in the hallway of our childhood home. The blanket on our bed came from The Cloth Shop, they have an incredible collection of antique blankets, materials, old ribbons and buttons as well as new swedish linens which I have used to make curtains in many of the rooms.

Image above: Our bathroom is covered in marble tiles that were reclaimed from a butcher’s shop in Devon and the walls are painted in Tracery II from The little Greene Paint Company. The chair comes also was handed down by the family and the old cushion cover I bought from Christa Davis who along with her own clothing label also sells vintage linens and blankets at her monthly studio sales.  The fireplace in this room was the only original fireplace left in the house.

See more of Esther’s home after the jump!

Image above: We bought the sofa from a junk shop and had it upholstered in an old Romanian cart cloth, which also came from The Cloth Shop. The lamp stand I picked up from a junk shop too. The living room is painted in Pigeon from Farrow and Ball.

Image above: This is the children’s play room and connects to the living room with a set of double doors. The Edwardian dustbin that I picked up from a junk shops is great for all their over sized things like tepees and stilts and flags and things. The old 1950s French map of Britain shows the country divided by agriculture and industry and came from a market in Provence.

Image above: Another view of the children’s playroom. The rocking horse was given to my brother by our grandparents.

Image above: This is a corner of the lower ground floor living room and kitchen space, my daughter spends hours playing here, the doll house was made out of wine boxes by my husband and it has acquired a new floor every birthday. The Edwardian chair came from my grandmothers house and is covered in Kvadrat fabric. The framed photograph was given to us by friends and it shows a mountain in the north of Scotland, an area we visit together every year.

Image above: This is the kitchen, my favorite room – it looks out onto the street at the front and the garden at the back. The kitchen table is the one I sat around as a child, it came from Habitat in the 1960s. On the stove is a great red enamel sauce pan from Labour and Wait -one of my favorite shops.

Image above: This glass cupboard I bought from an auction and painted Pea Green from Farrow and Ball, it is full of my favorite pottery by John Leach. The clock on the wall above the fridge I found in a dustbin in Brooklyn when I was living there and working at MOMA.

Image above: This is my dressing room and the chair was given to me by my parents as a wedding present. I made the curtains and the Swedish linen also comes from The Cloth Shop. The wallpaper is Louise Body.

Image above: It took me many hours to choose this stair carpet, as didn’t want it to completely clash with the hall tiles, it came from Blenheim Carpets.

Image above: This bay is in the living room looks out onto the front of the street which is very quiet and lined with crab apple trees. The house is very quiet for a London street partly because it is a dead end and there is no through traffic. The chair is by a Swedish designer Yngve Ekstrom. There is also a child’s Ercol chair and this is where Isaac does his guitar practice.

Image above: The tiles in the hall are original Victorian tiles and were quite damaged when bought the house. We had to replace some of them.

Image above: This is my old battered bike Bike in hall way which I love. My husband bought it for my birthday.

  1. Mina says:

    What a gorgeous home. It’s warm, lived in and so full of character. I absolutely love it! So… um… what’s a good day for me to move in?? : )

  2. I love a home with character. What a great space!

  3. I love the house !!!!!

  4. Hilary says:

    Beautiful home! Love the bike and entry hall tiles.

  5. Leah Moss says:

    perfect! Cozy, simple, inviting, and lived in. I love how approachable it is!

  6. ali thompson says:

    i really love how the stairway carpet compliments the tile. great choice!

  7. Sarah Croft says:

    Mmmm, great bunches of wood grain! I’m such a sucker for homes with tons of wood grain!

  8. Ros says:

    Gorgeous home.

    And that bed has the exact lines I’ve been searching for. Do you have a source for it?

    1. jeremy says:

      its from habitat – radius range

  9. Sanae says:

    This is exactly the way I wish my house could be: inviting, comfortable, stylish and full of history! Fabulous!

  10. Oh! Those herringbone floors are delightful. What I would give to have them take up residence in my own apartment ;)

  11. Ros says:

    Gorgeous house! The tile work in the hallway is lovely!

    The bed is also so simple and gorgeous: do you have a source for it?

  12. Joanna says:

    Really nice home – the bedroom is absolutely lovely, so calming. Love the dark furniture. Also loving the kitchen.

  13. Such a lovely home..warm, lived-in and very inviting..thanks for sharing..xx meenal

  14. Love the trim work in the bedroom!

  15. Ah! I love to see homes with London light – it is different. And that herringbone floor is glorious. Nice job.

  16. katie says:

    So envious of all this space in London. The Duke of Cambridge used to be my local, great pub!

  17. Jo says:

    Such a beautiful house, very understated – very Labour and Wait.
    I think the Edwardian dustbin might actually be a dolly wash tub, you’d use it to wash clothes – the ribbing helps smoosh the stains out.

  18. Alexandra says:

    I love everything about this space…gorgeous character and beautiful understated furnishings!

  19. Crystal Curtis says:

    This is the kind of place I could call home. Cozy, warm, inviting with beautiful architectural details. I love the Victorian tile floor.

  20. Esther says:

    Thank you for all the lovely comments! Ros – that bed is a Radius Bed from Habitat.

  21. Elizabeth says:

    Some of the best photography I’ve seen in Sneak Peek. Brava, Tina Maas!

  22. Heather says:

    I have a very stressful job and stumbled on this website during lunch. I just keep looking at the staircase picture- it is so calming- so beautiful.

    Thank you for sharing!

  23. Claire says:

    Swooning over the tile floors and the bay windows :)

  24. Love it all!!!!!!!! Especially the chair and the tiles and the map and the view and everything!

  25. margie says:

    The whole house looks so elegant and effortless! I love it.

  26. Natasha says:

    This is my favourite Design Sponge home.

  27. scout says:

    I’m a total devotee of the Sneak Peeks and this is, by far, my favorite one. It embodies everything I love in a home: it’s relaxed, warm, understated and lived-in, all while still maintaining pleasing aesthetics. It’s absolutely perfect.

  28. Amberly says:

    That bedroom! Beautiful and so full of old charm!

  29. LP says:

    I have a feeling this house is even more beautiful than it appears here. The photography, while nice, doesn’t offer enough varied points of view, in my opinion. The shots are almost entirely close crops which are kind of claustrophobic. I’d love to be able to see full rooms, and from room to room too. I can tell the light in this space is beautiful but so many shots from the same depth make it appear closed in. (I only say all this because I am dying to see more!)

  30. I think this is one of my favourite’s, ever.

  31. You really do have great taste! the rooms look lovely.

  32. Azil says:

    Terrific job! Every space has something interesting in it, love all that character!

  33. Louise says:

    Fret no more, that stair carpet is Fab!

  34. alessandra says:

    my ideal home, wondeful

  35. jo says:

    I’m a little late to the party, but can I just say that a) your home is adorable, b) I love both Bird and the Duke of Cambridge! What a pair. I never miss Duke of Cambridge on a visit to London.

  36. Esther says:

    Hi Jo, We’ve never met somebody whose been to both our businesses – that’s brilliant!
    Thanks for lovely comments.

  37. Karen Schneider says:

    Beautifu…what is the color of master bedroom walls?? love!

  38. Alison says:

    I’m about four years late to the party – standard – but I have to say how beautiful your home is, Esther. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a house which looks as idyllic and welcoming before. It’s like you looked into my head and created my perfect home. Wowsers. I adored the Duke of Cambridge when I lived in London. Thank you xx


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