Inside a modern Victorian property in Brixton where work and home life intertwine

This three-storey, three-bedroom Victorian terraced house in Brixton, south London is home to Carine Ottou, an IT sales manager and food entrepreneur, Jacob Eborn, an IT sales executive, and their two young daughters.

A passion for cooking and bringing people together has led Carine to transform both her work and her home. The global pandemic and the impact it had on work/life patterns made many people rethink their living spaces to create multifunctional areas that operate as both offices and living spaces – however, Carine’s home has to work harder still: ‘Jacob and I both have busy jobs in IT, but I also host pop-up supper clubs, run cookery workshops, and own my own food brand, Marie’s Little Jar – and we have two lively young girls,’ she says with a smile.

modern kitchen dining area with exposed brick walls and built in banquette seatingmodern kitchen dining area with exposed brick walls and built in banquette seating

With an extendable dining table and custom-made bench seating with built-in storage for supper club crockery, the kitchen is a versatile space that can be used for family life and Carine’s businessBrent Darby / House Beautiful

Having previously rented in nearby Tooting, in 2011 the couple bought their two-storey, three-bedroom house in Brixton. ‘It initially worked well for our needs, but as our family grew with the arrival of our two daughters, and our working lives became intertwined with home, we decided to take the plunge and make some big changes,’ explains Carine.

antique glass pendant lights hang above a wooden dining table against a background of exposed brickworkantique glass pendant lights hang above a wooden dining table against a background of exposed brickwork

The entire ground floor was knocked through to create an open plan kitchen, dining and living area.Brent Darby / House Beautiful

After careful research – and drawn to her nature-led aesthetic – the couple enlisted the help of Japanese interior designer Yoko Kloeden. Working with AMP Architecture and London-based building firm GDP Property, they undertook an extensive renovation, knocking through the entire ground floor and extending the kitchen to both the rear and side. This meant they were able to create a stunning open-plan living/dining/kitchen and garden space where the lines between indoors and outdoors are purposefully blurred. Upstairs, the loft space was also converted, adding a third storey to the house, and this became the main bedroom and ensuite, while one of the first-floor bedrooms was transformed into a home office.

modern living room painted in off white with wooden floors, grey sofas and wooden coffee tablemodern living room painted in off white with wooden floors, grey sofas and wooden coffee table

With its simple lines, natural materials, and calm colour palette, the resulting interior has a look that’s stylishly in tune with Jacob’s Scandinavian heritage, while Carine finds joy in the use of raw materials. ‘This project has been a celebration of nature – from the exposed brickwork and the living wall, to the Belgian lime paint on the walls and our handmade oak kitchen,’ explains Carine. ‘When we looked at Yoko’s previous work, we could see that she had a deep understanding of natural materials, using them in a way that is understated and yet lets them shine. This, along with her precision and attention to detail is what led us to her.’

built in alcove shelves in a living room painted in off white lime paintbuilt in alcove shelves in a living room painted in off white lime paint

Built-in alcove shelves offer smart storage colour matched to the lime-painted walls for a seamless appearance.Brent Darby / House Beautiful

Materials and accessories have been carefully selected to also reflect Carine’s Cameroonian and French heritage: original West African mud-cloth cushions are moved between the built-in wooden benches in the dining room and the seating under the living wall outside, as the family and Carine’s cookery workshop attendees and supper club guests dine according to the weather. ‘I love to cook and eat outdoors, but the great British weather sometimes has other ideas, so it is great to have the flexibility to be able to move quickly between the two spaces,’ laughs Carine.

The statement kitchen island, with its patinated zinc top, has been put on castors so it can be easily wheeled through the bifold doors and used for outdoor cookery workshops or as a bar for supper clubs. Giving old pieces new life is also important to Carine, who sourced the antique glass pendants over the dining table at a French brocante.

a monochrome bathroom with black floor tiles and white wallsa monochrome bathroom with black floor tiles and white walls

It wasn’t all plain sailing, though. ‘It was tough keeping to our budget with such a big project, and getting the building permit licences in place in time to coordinate with the work was stressful,’ remembers Carine. ‘We also had a dispute with our neighbours over the living wall in the garden, which meant that almost as soon as it had gone up, it all had to be taken down while negotiations took place. Watching the plants coming out just as we thought we’d nearly finished was so upsetting, but thankfully it was all resolved in the end.’

a bedroom in neutral colours with wooden floors, off white walls, mid century style side table and wooden bed frame with white bed linena bedroom in neutral colours with wooden floors, off white walls, mid century style side table and wooden bed frame with white bed linen

Two Scandi-style lights hang above a vintage wooden bedside table in the converted loft space where the calm colour palette continuesBrent Darby / House Beautiful

In fact, Carine feels she has learned a lot of lessons throughout the process and has some advice for anyone else thinking about a major building project: ‘Make sure you have a detailed design plan before you start, but also be prepared for the unexpected.’ Despite the ups and downs, the couple is thrilled with their newly renovated home, where every member of the family has space to work and follow their passions. So, would she do it all again? ‘Yes,’ she smiles. ‘Absolutely!’

a windowseat in a childs bedroom with built in storage the walls are painted deep blue and the windowseat is accessorised with pink and blue cushions and a pink blinda windowseat in a childs bedroom with built in storage the walls are painted deep blue and the windowseat is accessorised with pink and blue cushions and a pink blind

A rich blue lime paint covers the walls around a custom-made windowseatBrent Darby / House Beautiful

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