Rewind 81 years to 1935. At The Ideal Home Show, British architects Kemp & Tasker (known for their art deco Odeon cinema designs) and property developer HC Morrell are displaying a new house design in the aptly named ‘Village of Tomorrow’. The following year, when Morrell came to create his own dream home, he chose to team up again with Kemp & Tasker and this house is the result.
Today, the house is something of a 1930s time capsule – there has only been one owner between Morrell and its current proprietor, architect Mike Rundell. ‘I hadn’t been looking for a new home but an estate agent friend phoned and told me about this place as he knew I was interested in old and intriguing properties,’ says Mike. ‘I don’t actually particularly like deco style, but it was such a strange and unique package that I was drawn to it’.
When Mike bought the house it was almost entirely untouched, and he was immediately won over by the original light switches, unfussy door handles and complete deco bathrooms.
The hallway is no exception. ‘It’s a very typical deco feature to have a grand entrance hall,’ says Mike. The doll’s house in the fireplace was a gift from his electrician and the art work to the right of the vintage mirror is Sam Taylor-Johnson‘s Dolorosa, which features Kate Moss.
DINING ROOM AND KITCHEN
There could well have been the temptation to fill the house with angular 1930s pieces but Mike opted for a more relaxed approach. He also chose to open up the dining room and kitchen to make an open-plan space, more suitable for family life. The kitchen was designed by Mike and is one of the few aspects that he changed after moving in. The kitchen light is Tom Dixon and a walk-in fridge can be found behind the door on the left.
Curiously, despite the number of art deco cinemas that are still in use across the country, original deco homes are scarce. ‘If you go to Miami, you’ll see plenty of art deco architecture, but the 1930s was an odd period of time in England,’ says Mike. ‘There wasn’t much money around to build new houses, and so deco properties tend to be fewer and farther between.’
The green chairs in the living room were bought from Alfies Antique Market, while the coffee table is from Gallery 25. The fireplace is an original feature of the house, and resting on top is Sacred XII by Damien Hirst, who Mike has worked with.
Original gems in this house include the atmospheric light-up fireplace surround in the master bedroom, geometric cornicing and striking parquet flooring. ‘I like things that are very extreme – I like the drama,’ says Mike. Hanging over the illuminated fireplace, the mirror was original to the house. A pair of deco figurines are from Russia and the chair is part of a set of two from Alfies Antique Market.
The fabulous onyx-and-marble en suite bathroom is all original to the house and features fabulous ocean-inspired shell taps.
‘In the brochure for his 1936 house, Morrell talks proudly of how the doors have no mouldings, so there’s no dust collection,’ says Mike. ‘They were big on convenience in those days.’ This explains a lot about the house, where rooms are large but not overly so, reception rooms lead to the garden and striking architectural details speak volumes.
© Sam Taylor-Johnson. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2016; © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2016
Words: Katie Hallett
Images: Andreas von Einsiedel