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Helena Angelides transforms home

PUBLISHED: 16:57 20 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:29 20 February 2013

The big steel girders in the roof were originally ugly and metallised but Helena painted them in Crown's emulsion

The big steel girders in the roof were originally ugly and metallised but Helena painted them in Crown's emulsion "Metallic Silver" and now they look quite delicate.

Interior designer Helena Angelides' home was once a scrap metal dealers warehouse. In the true spirit of industrial advancement, it has been transformed beyond all recognition.Photographs by Willoughby Andrews

Helena Angelides bought a scrap metal dealer's old warehouse two years then spent six months converting it into her home and studio.

"It covers 1200 sq ft, was just a shell with a sub-floor and is part of an old industrial site," she says. "In fact someone turned up here recently asking for the scrap metal dealer himself."

Helena, an interior designer whose former career was as a nutritionalist, had just returned from California and was looking for a combined work and living space. What she beheld was a brick-built shell with a corrugated metal roof and a small mezzanine floor; a Victorian paint factory had once stood there. A developer had begun work on it but there was no electricity, no plumbing, no water and not even a floor; however there was a metal staircase and with a bit of visualisation Helena could see her future home and studio.

"When I first saw the place I thought, Oh no, I'm not sure; there's so much work. Then I looked again and thought - it's a blank canvas, what a fantastic opportunity," she says.

Fortunately the building was not listed and it came with general planning permission to change its use to a dwelling. All Helena had to do was apply for building regulations and planning permission to put in a kitchen window.

"Initially I wanted to put in more Velux windows in the roof (there were three already) but when I found out that the cost of each one would be about 3000 (because of the difficulties involved in cutting into a metal roof) I dropped that idea."

The first thing Helena had to do plan the layout. She decided to keep the ground floor as open-plan as possible with a huge kitchen-living-dining room. The only parts to have walls were the utility room and downstairs wet room.

Then she had to co-ordinate the electrics, the underfloor heating, the plumbing and the concrete floor. "I had to create a space plan for where I wanted them," she says. "As I wanted most of the wiring buried that part had to be really well thought out; then there were the details of where the lighting, sockets and appliances were to go and ditto the pipes and plumbing. This is because once the concrete floor was down there was no chance of changing my mind."

However this was fraught with difficulties. As Helena could not be on site all the time she returned one day to find the electrics protruding from the floor some feet away from their intended position serving the kitchen. "So I had to redesign the kitchen," she says. "And consequently it projects further into the living area than originally planned."

As it happened there was gas available so Helena decided to have a gas boiler; she also decided to extend the gas pipes over to the other - kitchen - side of her warehouse in case she ever wanted a gas stove.

Once the concrete floor was laid Helena had it polished but was not pleased with the result which was much duller than expected. So using a special concrete floor paint she had it painted in a buttermilk shade which helps lightens this large room. Helena then had the walls of her utility room and downstairs wet room installed. "I asked the builders to put in joists when creating the ceiling for these two rooms so I could extend the mezzanine area above," she says. "There was just particle board up there before but I have put in reclaimed wide oak boards from the Rose Green Reclamation Yard in Bristol.. Upstairs there is now a bedroom, an en suite bathroom (with a bath) and two lots of storage space, one for clothes and one in the eaves for suitcases etc "

While all this work was being done - and it took four months - Helena either stayed with family in London or with a friend in Bristol. "It was like camping out," she says.

Helena's kitchen is Italian-made and bought from a Bristol company since closed. "I didn't want a wacky look so I chose Classical style curved units sprayed in shades of cream and cappuccino with honed black granite worktops," she says. "In fact they double up as a place to lay out plans and drawings for clients to look at. I also have an undermounted stainless steel sink with drainer, a Teka electrical black glass hob 900 mm wide ( with four rings in a row - not the conventional square - with touch control), two Neff ovens in stainless steel of which I use the combination oven the most and a stainless steel Siemens fridge freezer.

"In the utility room is a Bosch washing machine and Bosch drier."

The wet room and the bath rooms are fitted out with furniture from Bathroom Solutions from Bristol and include Duravit wall-mounted lavatories, a Bette bath, a Kohler basin upstairs and a limestone basin downstairs.

Despite the industrial surroundings Helena even has her own little strip of garden, all of one and a half meters wide which she has planted with tomatoes and cucumbers.

"When people first come into my home their first reaction is how livable my place is. They were expecting it to be clutter-free - which it is - but they're expecting it to be clinical too, which it isn't. I have used blocks of colour in a Mondrian-inspired way and panels of wall-paper here and there and it's all quite different from a typical loft conversion.

"When people first come into my home their first reaction is how livable my place is. They were expecting it to be clutter-free - which it is - but they're expecting it to be clinical too, which it isn't. I have used blocks of colour in a Mondrian-inspired way and panels of wall-paper here and there and it's all quite different from a typical loft conversion."

Helena has won a number of awards for interior design including one for the Most Stylish and Innovate Design Concept. This was judged by Sally Sirkin-Lewis the prestigious designer and founder of the J.Robert Scott furniture and textile showrooms in Chelsea Harbour in London, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. Her style epitomises modern classic chic.

Tel: Helena Angelides Interior Design mobile 07725899750


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