Our very own London-based contributor Rohini Wahi — a trends forecaster who also runs the design and lifestyle blog The Beat That My Heart Skipped — started jotting down thoughts on her home three years ago. Back then, she and husband David Burpitt, a games developer and owner of Big Pixel Studios, couldn’t imagine the flat they loved would adapt so seamlessly to suit a daughter, one-and-a-half year-old Aarya. Regularly traveling to the US and India, Rohini and David drew interior inspiration for these changes from global influences, but they adore their family life at home. Rohini’s cousin lives opposite them, and her mother stays there during the week to help look after Aarya. In the bucolic Wanstead neighborhood of the big city, this first-floor two-bedroom apartment also provides good old-fashioned community.
The couple used to walk past this unusual block of 1935 Art Deco flats everyday from a rental home on the same road, dreaming of one day living there. The development reminded Rohini of the candy-colored apartments she saw growing up in Mumbai and Calcutta, and she would feel heartsick for them each time she passed. When the perfect one came up for sale, it felt like fate to them. The Grade II listed development (a historic preservation designation) causes visitors to feel like they’re walking into a time warp. Upon entering the complex, two curved arches lead to a circle of 40 units looking like they belong in sunny 1930s Palm Springs as opposed to misty England.
Rohini and David never thought they would be able to acquire and renovate their dream home. The apartment, at the front of the development, fills with daylight streaming in from its original Crittal windows, wrapped around the entire exterior. Having two outdoor balconies in London is also a rarity and a luxury. The family wanted to create an elegant home with good bones, and sourced the best materials for their renovation budget. Three long months spent stripping, painting, sanding, and tiling details in each room — and replacing bedroom and living room flooring — paid off, as did a Cararra marble-tiled hall inspired by Rohini’s grandparents’ home (her favorite feature to date). When they imagined their beautiful, restful sanctuary “that is a balm for sleepless nights and long days,” they envisioned a home that would work hard for them so they would be able to relax. The historic and listed nature of the property means they can’t put their own stamp on any of the original features, but it’s not like they would want to, anyway. —Annie