Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Oasis in the Heart of the City; Architect and Mother-of-Three Fiona Naylor's Child-Friendly City Apartment Shows That Young Families Don't Have to Head for the Suburbs

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Oasis in the Heart of the City; Architect and Mother-of-Three Fiona Naylor's Child-Friendly City Apartment Shows That Young Families Don't Have to Head for the Suburbs

Article excerpt

Byline: FAY SWEET

LIKE most family homes, the hub of everyday life for Fiona Naylor, her partner Peter Marlow, and their three young sons, Max, 12, Felix, seven, and two-year-old Theo, is the kitchen/dining room. There's a fish tank burbling away on the counter, half the dining table is spread with the children's colourful drawings and toys, the other half is set for supper. However, unlike most family homes, this is in an open-plan, two-storey apartment in the heart of Clerkenwell.

The flat is at the top of a converted Fifties office building that the couple bought with a group of friends and then divided.

"There is a tendency for people to head straight for the suburbs when they have children, but we have always wanted to be right in the middle of things," says Fiona, an architect and cofounder of the practice Johnson Naylor, which is well-known for its work on the latest generation of new-build apartments that are shaping the lives of thousands of Londoners.

Current highprofile projects for the developer Ballymore include The Ontario Tower at New Providence Wharf, E14, and the Pan Peninsula towers in Docklands, where the firm is working on the layout and interiors of almost 800 apartments.

Peter is photographer with the picture agency Magnum.

"Location was everything for us," says Fiona. "I couldn't stand commuting; it' s a five-minute walk to my office and Peter is also based close by. At weekends we can take a walk to St Paul's or along the Thames, and Regent's Park is only a short distance away. There's an adventure playground over the road and lots of music activities for kids nearby at St Luke's Church, where the London Symphony Orchestra is based."

The children also have a huge roof garden to play in; it wraps round the apartment's top floor living room, which is glass-sided and pavilion-style.

"We throw the doors open and virtually live upstairs in the summer," says Fiona, adding that she used to be anxious that the boys might test their climbing skills on the rooftop fencing, but that they've grown accustomed to staying within their boundaries.

The home, which is full of light, is luxuriously spacious, but finished with simple materials; walls are white-painted plaster, flooring is oversize concrete slabs, and the kitchen has seamless stainless-steel counters, white-melamine doors and drawers and oak detailing. The floor-to-ceiling windows to the north and south have fine galvanised frames and there is an elegant stainless-steel stair linking the living area with the pavilion.

Within the open-plan layout, the kitchen/dining area faces south - "It' s a daytime space" - and the living room faces north "mostly used in the evenings". Bedrooms and bathrooms are ranged along the east and west wings.

Furniture is simple, modern, classic - long charcoal grey sofas flank the fireplace, nearby is a pair of chairs by Poul Kjrholm; two leather Swan chairs by Arne Jacobsen sit under the stairs and there is a Lounge chair by Charles and Ray Eames. …

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