This could have been a before and after feature. The house above, known simply as ‘seventeen’ belongs to interior designer Magnus Scholz. When he moved to South East London from fashionable Islington some of his friends despaired of ever seeing him again. North Londoners can be like that. When he rejected the idea of buying a typical Victorian London house preferring an ex local authority owned 1950s house with little apparent charm, acquaintances who were not familiar with his vision and drive wondered if he had taken leave of his senses. When he painted the front of his house black and reduced the size of the windows, neighbors reacted on a scale from mild curiosity to open hostility.
This is the before. To most of us it would be, to be kind, unpromising. Magnus says he saw ‘a house to play with’. He turned it back to front, arranging living accommodation away from the street and the traffic, and created a light, open, home that is easy to live in. The contrast between the front of the house and what lies beyond is extraordinary.
Floor to ceiling glass creates a bright, open and spacious environment. And now that the house has been turned around the living areas look out onto the garden, not the road.
When Modenus talked to Magnus we started by asking him what makes good interior design. ‘I do’ he joked. But on reflection he said that what makes good interior design is anything but the ‘I’, its about listening, figuring out what people really want. “It is incredibly personal’ says Magnus’ you become part of their lives for a while, you are, after all working with them to design how they live, even where they put their underwear’ .
Magnus started his training as a painter and decorator in Germany. There he learned about what works and how. “I would never design something which I couldn’t fix’ he says proudly. His relationship with architects is also on the basis of shared knowledge. ‘We work together to realize dreams’ he says ‘i’ts important to be an all rounder, to put your mind to anything’.
Magnus pays a lot of attention to floors. He creates a sense of space by keeping keeping them uncluttered. The floor in Seventeen is a reclaimed parquet wood block he laid himself. Relaying an old wood block floor is not something to be undertaken lightly. Each block needs to be trimmed before being stuck down using a tar like substance that ends up on your clothes, in your hair and in places you imagined inaccessible while fully clothed. Done well it is, however a thing of beauty. Magnus pointed out that we look at floors all day but so often pay more attention to ceilings which we barely glance at.
Finally, I asked Magnus what his dream project would be. He told me about a house, on a mountainside in Italy, overlooking a lake. The project is part new build part refurbishment, bringing old and new materials together. Of course, being Magnus, this isn’t a dream it’s a project he is starting work on next Spring. He will put pictures on the web site of his company M+A London as soon as they are available. In the meantime visitors to the site can see pictures of Seventeen and other projects.
But now Magnus’s family is beginning to outgrow Seventeen. Magnus doesn’t want to leave his parquet floor, or anything else about the house he turned back to front. A new extension can be expected soon.