Interior designers Russell Whitehead and Jordan Cluroe – better known as 2LG – are renowned for their residential design services – offering simplicity, elegance, functionality and their signature use of colour.
One of their most recent (and on going) projects, Perry Rise, is a Victorian detached house in south-east London and just happens to be the couple’s live / work space. The challenge for the pair was to sensitively renovate the home while creating bespoke spaces that allow the couple to express themselves and showcase their design perspective.
darc spoke with the design duo about the process: “I guess you could say it all started when we bought our first flat years ago – this was our first move into the design world,” Whitehead and Cluroe say. “We did a renovation project and turned it around really quickly – it was amazing and exciting but also the most stressful 18 months of lives and we always said to ourselves, next time let’s spend time on the house – let’s have a romantic experience and enjoy the journey.
“So really, this house was righting the wrongs of the first one – we wanted to express ourselves slowly. We have now owned the property for four years and we’ve really been luxuriating and spending time on the process. Some of the classic historical interior designers made their name out of working on their own homes, which then became their calling card. We wanted to have that opportunity as well – the house was a business move as much as it was going to be our home.
“The day we moved in we sat down with an A4 sheet of paper and planned out our dream version of the house, allowing our initial ideas to be explored on paper… A lot of things have changed since then, but a lot of those initial thoughts have remained. The house itself was very instrumental in the design process because it already had a very strong look. Its previous owners clearly had a passion for interiors as the house had pink walls throughout, deep green carpets and William Morris wallpaper in the dining room. In the loft we also found a stash of old interior magazines from the 50’s and 60’s as well as remnants of fabrics.
“Those colour palates really informed the new design – we wanted to hold on to the first impact the house had on us, after all it’s what made us fall in love with the property. As such, the house took us in a much more decorative direction than we’ve ever been before in terms of wallpaper and patterns, decorative panelling in the living rooms and chandeliers. It was a very different move for us, but we felt the house was taking us in that direction so we went with it.
“The downstairs toilet was bizarrely the first thing we worked on – probably because it was the smallest and felt like a chunk that we could handle while we were doing the roof and all the windows. We unearthed decorative wallpaper under several layers and it was a bit of a love / hate moment… it was the ugliest thing we had ever seen, but at the same time we thought to ourselves ‘we love this house, so how do we make that us?’ it was a ditsy floral paper from the 50s… this led to our collaboration with Custhom – we would have never chosen to do a decorative floral if we hadn’t bought this house.”
For Whitehead and Cluroe, using the space as both a home and business premises required a fine balance in terms of design, making sure they had various spaces within the house that were very much ‘theirs’. The bedroom and bathroom for example, are considered their sanctuary – meaning whatever photo shoots or events might be happening downstairs, or whatever rooms they might be prepping, they have always got that space. “We worked on those rooms first so we could shut the doors on the rest of the house,” they say. “Because the house has been chaos for the past four years, we needed a space to retreat to. It’s a very hard working house and we have a lot of clients through the doors, so having those break away areas is really important.”
While the house does takes inspiration from its previous owners and its Victorian roots, as you head towards the back of the house the designers have injected contemporary features and an open plan layout to the kitchen that doubles up as a working space day-to-day.
“We have kept the front sitting room enclosed because again, it’s our sanctuary and where we spend time in the evenings and then we opened up the back of the house so that we can spread out and in terms of working life, it feels really nice to be able to use the kitchen throughout the day.”
This deliberate shift in design style also informed the lighting specified throughout the house with a mix of reclaimed, vintage inspired and contemporary fixtures. When you first enter the house, CTO Lighting pendants feature in the hallway and Tom Dixon pendants can be found in the living room, while an original vintage lighting piece hangs in the downstairs toilet.
“The CTO fixtures feature a simple brass rod and globe design and sit very happily within a period setting and provide a new twist on an old classic. For the living room we brought Tom Dixon copper round pendants from our previous property, as we loved them so much. The fixture has become such a design classic that we’ve only just switched it up – we’ve upgraded to an electric blue version, which is really striking in the space.”
Moving through to the back of the house – this is where the contemporary really kicks in, featuring 2LG’s lighting collaboration with Cameron Design House – the Capsule collection. “The guys at CDH have a different aesthetic to us, which was quite nice and makes it interesting for collaborating… they typically have a more lux, high-end style and we brought them an idea that was a bit more ‘pop’, which they then put their twist on and elevated for the final version of the collection.
“The Capsule collection is the most disruptive element in the house, which was the plan from the beginning. Stanley Kubrick was one of the major influences for the live / work space in the initial story for the house and with this lighting range, it gives the space a really modern and sexy interpretation of the strip light.”
Moving upstairs, a refurbished twelve-arm porcelain chandelier is the centrepiece of the master bedroom while the bathroom saw 2LG work on another lighting collaboration with Sarah Colson and William Martin.
“Our initial inspiration for the bathroom was Superman’s cave of solitude… I’m sure Sarah and William just thought we were crazy comic book geeks but the thread was really stalactites and the idea of us having our own cave of solitude… a retreat. We wanted to play with the way glass shards can hang or stand and we designed three different versions of the bathroom lights – a wall light, table light and a double ended version with shards coming out of either end. It’s really beautiful and offers a soft, gentle decorative light when you’re in the bath.”
In terms of architectural lighting support throughout the house, despite having used it quite heavily in other projects they’ve worked on, 2LG reveal it’s not something they have really implemented at Perry Rise.
“It’s a funny one,” they say. “We did a project in Blackheath at the same time as doing our own home and there was quite a lot of architectural lighting in that and we got really excited about it… but in this house we’ve just not gone there and it hasn’t really been a conscious decision. We do have some recessed spotlights in the office and kitchen that highlight specific points, but other than that, it’s all decorative – wall lights, pendants, table lights. We allowed the house to take us in a more retro direction and it worked.
“Our approach to lighting is very instinctive and we’ve used our project experience from the past five years to make informed decisions in this house. The kitchen and lounge are good examples of how lighting can create different ambiences… generally when we’re not working we prefer a much more diffused light. It’s very atmospheric and relaxed in the lounge compared to the kitchen where we spend a lot of our time working.
“I think looking back on the work we’ve done so far, one thing people always say to us is ‘wow it’s all happened so quickly’ – people don’t realise the amount of planning and hours that have gone into making it ‘look quick’. Its all been about making sure all the bits fit at the right time and giving ourselves enough time to plan it and be happy in it.”