Sometimes home is more than just a house; when you’re friends with your neighbors – old and young – and love your local shops and pub, that sense of home can expand to include your whole neighborhood. So when photographer Jenny Lewis and her husband Duncan Western, of film company Splice, moved to this dignified Georgian terrace 10 years ago, they were only relocating here from the next street. With a baby on the way they needed a family-friendly house, but were loathe to leave the hip neighborhood of Haggerston (in the East London district of Hackney) that has been the couple’s home since their college days.
The house they chose was a bargain because, “it was completely neglected and really quite nasty,” Jenny remembers with a shudder. But the damage was basically cosmetic and, with Jenny’s father a contractor who created her childhood home, the couple felt empowered to bring it back to life. Since then, the house has been an unashamed work-in-progress evolving gradually as the family has grown to include Ruby, now 10, and Herb, 7, as well as the family’s cat, Milo. “I’ve never been in a hurry to make the house perfect,” Jenny shares. “It comes along at its own pace.” The decadently huge bathroom was created after a couple of years while the rear extension is just two years old and has enabled the family to create a light-drenched, eat-in kitchen for parties, play-dates and family life in general. And now the former dining room has been reborn as a dedicated music room, with drum-kit, keyboards and guitars for this family of enthusiastic musicians.
Hackney is London’s hotbed of emerging creative talent and Jenny’s ongoing photography project Hackney Studio has strengthened her relationships with numerous local craftspeople and artists. Many of the pieces of art and furniture in her home were swapped for her photographic work, like the stacking yellow plastic stools by Martino Gamper that dot the house. These sit happily alongside interesting bits passed down through the family or foraged from the streets, “I never seem to go shopping for furniture,” Jenny muses. “Each project that I do leaves a trace in my home that reminds me of that person.”
Above all, the house is adaptable; Jenny works from home, “that way I can just get on with it when I’ve put the kids to bed. It’s really important to me that there’s no division and that home and work can entwine.” And with flowing space and built-in speakers everywhere – even the garden – the house is also good-to-go for parties. Most of all, it’s a family home with the kids and their friends in and out all day, making music, art and videos and generally following in their parents’ creative footsteps. —Kate