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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Take a look at our other property spotlights and find more North London interior porn.
Photos by Mike Barry.
It’s pelting it down, it’s cold, the Arsenal v Everton match just finished. We raced to Hammerton Brewery for their monthly taproom opening, dodging and weaving our way through the masses of footie fans emerging from the Emirates Stadium after a good two hours of watching a bunch of blokes kick a ball around a field. Football fan I am not. After sweeping through a maze of cobblestone side streets on a forced detour, we finally arrived to Roman Way. We wiped away the sweat and rain running down our faces, parked our bikes up and headed into the darkness. Hidden away from prying eyes in an industrial estate just a few streets parallel to HMP Pentonville, you’d never even know the brewery was there. Thankfully, our contributor Emmie informed us of this piss-up in a brewery last year so we’re in the know, you know?
National disability charity, Sense, has championed the development of arts activities tailored towards individuals with sensory impairments. Coining the term ‘sensory arts practice’, their latest project explores the relationship between music and art through the creative expression of nine artists to be showcased iat artsdepot in Finchley next Thursday 1st February.
When danger reared its ugly head, Brave Sir Robin turned and fled… to his namesake pub on Crouch Hill for a craft beer and a top-notch meal from kitchen residency Cue Point. Warm globes of light hang above intimate booths, specially commissioned wall design offers a rich backdrop, and cosy sofas, deep armchairs and plentiful cushioned stools ensure no one is without a seat.
Flocking to Holloway Road on one of the many Sundays that we’ve spent at the Nag’s Head Car Boot Sale, we spotted a new Vietnamese place called Pho Hot getting ready to open up their doors. Being the nosy folks we are, we peeked inside and spotted a menu. Banh Mi was on it. It's a baguette, but not as you know it. Glory of all glories! It’s been far too long since I last consumed this distinctive sarnie and I'm happy as Larry that there's a new Banh Mi joint on my doorstep.
Baby, it’s getting cold outside, and what better way to aide our frostbitten noses than a chat to a professional skin person? We’re talking to Lee Garrett, founder of The Garrett Clinic, accomplished skincare specialist and heralded by many as the UK’s leading Skin Guru. Read on to find out his insider tips for surviving this winter season with your skin looking as radiant as the moon that breaks a stormy night.
Joined by over 50 other artists incorporating printmaking, painting, digital art, photography and small-scale sculpture, Tomorrow’s World presents us with utopias, dystopias, predictions, prophecies and visions of the future. We hit up the private view last Friday and it was pretty damn bleak, in the best sense of the word.
Carouse founders Chris, Theo and Ben – the charming folk behind Kentish Town’s Rose and Crown – have a new venture afoot and we couldn’t be more bloody excited to see it. We’ve been creeping in their windows, peering through the paint and sneaking glimpses at builders’ bums for a few months now (okay, maybe not the last one), watching these guys transform this cosy corner of Crouch Hill into a rather cool little boozer. Now they’re opening and everyone is invited. Come one, come all, and try all 20 of their beers on tap with us.
Last month I decided to try clubbing again. I don’t quite know what came over me, but I actually (brace yourselves) enjoyed it. I went to Body Hammer’s monthly party in Manor House and I’m here to tell you to go too, whether you love clubbing, hate clubbing, or really couldn’t care either way. #notspon
Rich, fried, buttery, potato-y vessels loaded with flavor combinations that go down rather well with craft beer, late nights and good times. Ha, who am I kidding, EVERYTHING goes down well with beer. You heard that right buddy, loaded potato skins are back with a bang (and a generous portion of bacon) and are currently being served at Old Street's The Magic Roundabout by street food pop-up Skins and we could not be any happier. Well, unless they were to stuff it with, say, Mac and Cheese or risotto. Oh, that's exactly what they do? Well paint me green and call me a cucumber.
Magical gifts, wonderful gifts, marvellous gifts, beautiful gifts, gifts, glorious gifts glo-ri-ous giiiiiifts. Please Sir, I want some more. It’s that time of year again and whether you love it or loathe it gifts will be purchased and presented into expectant hands. Stroud Green's very own Pretty Shiny Shop have compiled a gift guide to help ease the shopping shock. Imagine only having to trot to your local gift shop and tick off your entire shopping list in one fell swoop. Done, finito, terminado! To make it that little sweeter, it's also all very affordable... so you won't even have to pick a pocket or two.
Alright guys, it’s happening. The frosty charm of December is, once again, being beaten to a pulp by the capitalists’ wet dream: Christmas. The hideous twinkling of artificial outdoor lighting is starting to appear, with tourists flocking from far and wide to watch D-list celebrities press a button. Invitations to Christmas parties flood in from your multiple part-time jobs, ensuring you make bad decisions bi-weekly til next year. Supermarkets are selling 12-day advent calendars containing confetti, cookie cutters and candles for a flawless £50. And oh, how the mulled wine flows.
Who doesn’t love a cheeky statistic, correctly sourced? You know we do. Well, did you know that for every £1 spent with a small business, 63p is re-spent in the local area, as opposed to a measly 40p in every £1 re-spent locally with larger businesses? An absolute travesty, am I right? That 23p has to mean something, right, guys?! Guys? Guys, where are you going? Wait, there’s freebies involved too!
By gum there are a lot of winter markets this year. Fueled by sickly sweet mulled wine and overpriced pulled pork sliders, we’ve managed to wade our way through the murky waters of winter markets and find some decent looking ones round this here part of town. Don’t let our Grinch-esq vibes put you off (I’m more of a Pancake Day person myself) because, if you’re into markets, you’ll probably like these. Read on, if you’re merrier than us.
Take a short walk along Finsbury Park’s own sunset strip and you’ll find MoseyHome, an interiors retailer and styling consultancy who have invited us to collaborate with them on an exciting new series titled 'Style My Shop', in which they invite some of London's most talented interiors experts to quite literally style their shop. Interiors porn at it's finest.