Interiors Spotlight: Conran-esque Design in Finsbury Park
Written by: Sophie Taylor
We spoke with Sarah and Charlie Almond, a design-geek power duo with two lively young children keeping them on their toes in the heart of buzzing Stroud Green.
Their house on Cornwall Road, Finsbury Park is glistening with minimalist Scandi design and carefully curated Soho House Group style lighting.
We chat design inspiration, lighting squabbles and where to get the best Eggs Benedict in the area.
What first attracted you to the Cornwall Road property?
Sarah: “We loved having outdoor space and knew it had such potential for improvement – plus the street is really quiet as it’s not a through street.”
What does a typical day look like for both of you?
Sarah: “We get up and try to get ourselves ready before our two girls (1 and 3) wake up and then it’s about 45 minutes of chaos while we get them ready and all out the door and girls to nursery and us both to work. Then after a day at work it’s the same process only in reverse!
Once the girls are in bed we then exhale with dinner and a glass of wine around 7:30pm. We’re usually binging on one show or another, at the moment we’re still catching up on Game of Thrones and loving Catastrophe.”
What would you call your interior design style? And who’s the main perpetrator of this?
Sarah: “Charlie is much more into the design but I’m allowed to veto if I’m not happy with something – otherwise I leave him to it as he’s always been very into simple, clean but not cold design which works well at the moment with the Scandi trends.”
Charlie: “Yeah, I’ve been quite lucky in that both my parents are designers, so I think I’ve definitely picked up some of their eye for style and design.
I have tried to keep it quite simple as Sarah says, but with pops of colour through either furniture or artwork.
I think the light grey shades trend of the past few years is being slowly replaced with bolder choices, which is good although harder to get right.
We’ve been relatively conservative with the place as we’ve known it’s not our ‘forever home’ so there’s loads of touches I’d have liked to have added (you should see my Pinterest board!)
We were wary someone else would eventually be living here so it needed to appeal to a wider audience than just us.”
Whose idea was the extension? Did it take long?
S: “Charlie wanted a project and a project is exactly what he got. It took around 15 or 16 weeks (estimated at 12) during which time we lived in the living room on a pull out sofa bed and bathroom. Our oldest who was one at the time had her own room, not knowing the luxury that was!”
C: “We knew what we wanted and scoured Pinterest, Houzz, online shops and actual shops for every single bit that went into it but it was so worth it.”
S: “The lighting, for example, took AGES. Charlie is really big on having dimming lights both for the main lights and lights around the room. So all the standing lights and lamps plug into special sockets so they can be dimmed at the main switches too and the lighting can be just right. For the most part, it went pretty smoothly on the whole. We love it and will miss it dearly!”
C: “I feel like Sarah is mocking me slightly here, but I’ll rise above it… lighting is REALLY important. It makes a room. Having something other than spot lights in the ceiling to create shadows, shade and depth makes a huge difference. When you next go into a great bar or restaurant and you like the atmosphere, I guarantee they’ll have a mixture of lighting styles that does just that. If you look at any of the Soho House Group venues, they have incredible lighting in their bars and lounges.”
Do you have any go to design blogs or muses for style inspiration?
C: “I have interior design books I pinched from my parents from years ago that have been really useful – the Conran Essential House book from the 90’s has been a bit of a bible for me (you can get it from eBay for about £3). Otherwise I’ve been keeping a photo journal on Pinterest of things I see out and about and then been quite geeky at clipping anything I see online that I like too.”
Is there anything you would’ve done differently?
S: “I actually don’t think there is. We both have an element of project management to our jobs so we really planned it out well and, aside from eating food from a hot plate/oven or microwave for 3 months, kind of enjoyed it.”
If you could have anyone round for a six person last supper at Cornwall Road, who would you invite?
S: “Well luckily we have a huge dining table so can seat about 12, so it’d be made up of family and close friends.
But if we just had 4 others, then our close friends Greg and Chloe would pop down from Highbury and then probably our friends Laura and Michael would have a slightly longer trip over from New York! But we all know each other really well and would have a late night putting the world to rights and dancing stupidly around the room. It’d be a great night. Actually, now you’ve suggested it…”
What’s your first memory of moving in to the area?
S: “We moved in the day we had our daughter so I remember those early days taking her for walks, getting coffee at Vagabond and I had my first Eggs Benedict post pregnancy at the Front Room which I loved. I found out I was pregnant again the week after we finished the garden, so we haven’t had as many parties out there as we’d like. But we certainly have enjoyed the ones we’ve had and try to crank up the BBQ and eat dinner outside as much as possible in the summer.”
Why did you choose Davies and Davies as your estate agents? We hope you’ve read Alex’s ‘Top Six Reasons Not to Live in Stroud Green’ article!
S: “I hadn’t (until now) but it’s a good one! We used to live just up the road in Highbury, so when we ventured up to Stroud Green to explore the area, we obviously stumbled across them. They have such a great location and it’s probably the second most iconic building of SG after the Old Dairy. Davies & Davies were great when we bought the place and we knew they’d take care of us well.”
What local recommendations or priceless tips can you relay for anyone thinking of moving to the area?
S: “Alex’s article is a pretty good cover of the highlights of the area! Aside from all the places he mentioned we also order from Que Me quite a lot for good Vietnamese. We really like Pizza Bakers too.”
We hear you’re moving to Canada. How come?
S: “I’m from there so my family and oldest friends are there so when the opportunity came up with Charlie’s work we had to take it. Toronto is really booming and on all the ‘best places to live’ lists so we’re going to test it out and see if it’s true!”
We’re pretty sure Sarah and Charlie are going to miss Finsbury Park though. We wonder what their lasting impression of Cornwall Road will be?
S: “We’ll miss the place for sure and certainly look upon it with fondness. It was our first house together as a family, so will always be special. I think the area is continuing to evolve and it’ll be fascinating to see how the rejuvenation of Finsbury Park station impacts the area. It’s great having so many independent shops, bars and restaurants, so we hope it doesn’t lose that individualism.”
Fan of this Conran-esque style haven? Cornwall Road was marketed exclusively by Davies & Davies Estate Agents, who are based in Finsbury Park. You’ve missed your chance to live in this particular dream home (it was rented, unsurprisingly, at warp speed), but check out the Davies & Davies website for more sparkling properties across Inner North London – we particularly love this rental currently available in the beautifully design-led Fonthill Mews development (click me), or if you’re looking to buy then we’d love to be invited round for dinner at this amazing property (click me).
This post was kindly sponsored by Davies & Davies Estate Agents, a personable and creative property consultancy for jaded North Londoners. All money raised from advertising in North Four goes straight back into making the magazine. We’re currently raising money to produce our very first print edition, if you’re interested in advertising with us please get in touch: email@example.com
Take a look at our other property spotlights and find more North London interior porn.
Photos by Mike Barry.
Hivemind are coming to the Hen and Chickens Theatre this Summer with a cracker of an innovative show. Three directors try to win over the audience with improvised stories acted out by the rest of the Hivemind cast on the spur of the moment. As each scene ends you decide whether to “stick” and see where the story goes or “twist” and let the next director take over. The director who ends up with the least scenes acted out has to pay a ‘terrible forfeit’. Told you it was harsh.
We have been wondering whether or not to share this secret gem with you for a while now. Having walked past Cazenove Road on many a drunken occasion, we’d spotted The Lacy Nook A Board luring us inwards with a siren’s call of cocktails and beer garden. But unfortunately we’d get the timing all wrong and they’d rarely be open. “Closed at 4am! How ludicrous?” we’d holler, slurring and swaying up the road. Until now. Opening last year, The Lacy Nook is a collaboration between two friends who turned to Kickstarter to help them achieve this culinary dream . Think small and large plates of fusion Balkan BBQ, salads and carpaccio alongside
This year, Playing Up have commissioned a new play by Sophie Ellerby (HighTide First Commissions Writer and NYT REP Company 2013), Three, which will be staged at the Arcola Theatre from 20th to 22nd July. The urban and domestic drama, directed by NYT Associate Director Anna Niland follows three sisters who fight to keep track of reality as their world is turned upside down.
Tonight, on this dull yet sweaty Monday, what you may well need is to show your confectionary based fillings to the ceiling and let it all out with a huge bellowing guffaw about nothing in particular. Let the likes of quick witted Josie Long, surreal twosome Max and Ivan and the downright uproarious Tom Parry help you escape the chocolate lacking reality of 2017.
Registered charity, All Dogs Matter are a dog rehoming centre based in Archway. They use a mixture of foster homes and kennel spaces to house their dogs, who are each looking to be fostered or adopted. Occasionally we look through their profiles of beautiful singletons looking for love and feature one at random. We interviewed one newly single lady in particular called Lottie. A fun spirited character with smooth hair and a huge grin, Lottie was a right laugh.
Next Sunday it’s the Cally Road Jumble Trail, run by the community. Think a car boot sale but on the street with vintage clothing, accessories, toys, original creations and cakes if you’re lucky. The whole of the trail is set up online over at jumbletrail.com where visitors get a colour coded map to explore and discover all the hidden treasures on offer from your neighbourhood.
You’ve got your socks pulled up but no Cliff Richard in sight. You’re all white shorted up with nowhere to go. It’s time to find out where your white headbanded self will fit in. Here's our top four Wimbledon screening hang outs to try this Summer.
Until five minutes ago I would’ve believed Pet Nat was a holistic dog food brand / veterinary business in Wood Green. I’m half right actually*, but in the boozios world it’s a fizzy wine. Pétillant Naturel is light and fizzy, usually pretty low on the alcohol scale and rather sweet. Think the opposite of a dry red wine.
Abney Public Hall is hosting a market of world food delicacies next weekend, having gathered together the creme de la creme of planet Earth’s cuisine. Prepare for a mass fusion of cultures, great food, drink and music just off Stoke Newington Church Street.
Otherwise known as the shoredification of London, there are four stages of denial when it comes to dealing with the inevitability of gentrification. Are you a dilapidated ol’ boozer clinging on to the same threads since 1989, or more of a craft beer-swilling/moustache-bearing pop up type propping up the bar at a cookie dough cafe? Let’s find out before your bedroom’s transformed in to a pop up belfie gallery.
Poop poop! Get your driving gloves on and tweed jackets ready, for Toady has invited us down to Toad Hall for a banquet on the riverbank. Join The Literary Hour for their all new immersive supper club experience this Summer. It’s the eighth in their series of book themed events with multi-sensory five course meals featuring additional surprises… Ooh ratty!
Every last Thursday of the month a motley crew of performing acts shuffle off to the skinny little Moustache Bar on Stoke Newington Road for a night of microphone hogging. It’s Open Mic night and the stage isn’t just available to acoustic guitar yielding crooners. The floor is open for all you comedians, rappers, poets, hell even actors are welcome to come tread the boards at Moustache Bar this Thursday 27th July.
Ah Stokey. You chilled out little rebel of North London. The seemingly easy breezy, laissez-faire attitude that appears to exude from every award winning eatery and baby clothes shop of Church Street is all but an organic hessian veil over it’s anarchic and rebellious history. Nonconformists, anti fascists and dissenters built the area as we know it.
Trying our luck, we decided to ask the wonderful Raina and Saira of Joginder Supper Club to give us some unseen insight in to their centuries old Punjabi recipes. Amazingly they agreed to shed some light on one of their most tasty dishes: the Bhoolghobi Tamatar (cauliflower with tomato and potato). Over to the experts...
So this July 198 cyclists head over to Germany to start the Tour de France. If you think that is weird, wait till I tell you it started in Yorkshire a few years ago. Anyway after the three days of the Grand Depart the spectacle of the world's biggest sporting event heads back to France and the action really begins.
Did you take one look at the ticket prices for Glastonbury, vomit in your mouth and close your laptop slowly? Did you get a debilitating case of FOMO scrolling through your friends Glastonbury pics and “oops lost my phone at Radiohead” status updates? Or did you actually go to Glastonbury, witness Jon Snow drop the f bomb and now know that life will never get any better