Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

We Turned a Central London Offiffice into Our Stylish New Home; Architect Barbara Weiss and Her Husband Designed Every Last Detail of the Westminster Home They Have Carved from Run-Down Offices. Ros Byam Shaw Takes a Tour

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

We Turned a Central London Offiffice into Our Stylish New Home; Architect Barbara Weiss and Her Husband Designed Every Last Detail of the Westminster Home They Have Carved from Run-Down Offices. Ros Byam Shaw Takes a Tour

Article excerpt

Byline: Ros Byam Shaw

VISUALISE a house where form and function combine perfectly, where everything you use and everything you love has its place. Architect Barbara Weiss, and her husband, property developer Alan Leibowitz, live in such a house, a beautiful, tall, light home which they have designed to suit themselves, down to bespoke compartments for specific utensils in their kitchen drawers. "We managed just about everything on our wish list, including family pieces and pictures," says Weiss. "We worked it out meticulously."

Their search began in 2004. "I was brought up in Milan, in the centre," says Weiss, who is American-Italian, and still speaks Italian to her three grown-up children. "When Alan and I first met we did up a house in Islington, where we lived for 25 years. I loved it, but wanted to be back at the heart of things.

"We began hunting for an unusual property that could be improved, south of Marylebone, to north of the river, west of Bloomsbury and east of Holland Park. House hunters scooted around taking pictures of run-down buildings. When they came back with pictures of this, we discovered the owners might be willing to sell."

The building, in Westminster, was big, central, and on the corner of two quiet streets. Built as a pub in 1927, it had subsequently been used as offices. Granite cladding and replacement windows disfigured the facade and the interior was a mess of false ceilings and carpet tiles. It wasn't listed but purchase depended on whether they would be allowed to add another storey. "We realised the only way to occupy the building was upside down," says Weiss. "We wanted living space rather than bedrooms at the top where we could get the extra height."

Her elegant plans won the day, and the couple were allowed to stretch the top floor to create an area with a doubleheight ceiling, plus an enclosed roof terrace, a music room and a balcony office. …

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