A husband-and-wife team is keeping history alive inside two London residences, Selina Denman finds.
New London properties take luxury living to the next level
Originally built in 1836, the properties at 58 and 59 Myddelton Square, Islington, were beautiful examples of Georgian architecture but, after a couple of conversions and years of neglect, were in a serious state of disrepair.
Luckily, this was exactly the kind of project that G&T, a young, London-based developer headed by the husband-and-wife team of Gal Adir, 31, and Tania Adir, 25, relish.
“We have always had an appreciation for classical architecture and design; period properties were built to be substantial, spacious and elegant, with plenty of character. The chance to give them a new lease of life is a huge attraction for us,” says Gal Adir.
The two properties sit on the north-west corner of Myddelton Square, which was named after Hugh Myddelton, the ambitious, self-taught engineer who brought fresh drinking water to London in the 17th century with the construction of the New River. Located 350 metres from Angel underground station, overlooking St Mark’s Church, these were among the last properties to be constructed on the square; at 5,199 square feet, 58 Myddelton Square is also the largest of the lot, while number 59 measures 4,004 square feet.
At some point in their history, the two houses were converted into flats and then, in the 1930s, into a single office building. But G&T was eager to return them to their former glory by transforming them into modern, luxurious homes fit for London’s most discerning.
The company’s penchant for period properties meant that it was well versed in the challenges – and potential surprises – in store. “There is a degree of uncertainty with period projects,” says Adir. “What appears on the surface may be covering up damage or poorly carried-out previous work.
“These properties are usually hundreds of years old and even after being thoroughly surveyed can bring up hidden surprises when work commences. Listed building status also presents a challenge; all work must be carefully planned to fall in line with strict conservation guidelines.”
Because the Myddelton Square properties had been used as offices for about 50 years, they had been poorly maintained. Many of the rooms had been sub-divided, most of the sash windows were rotten through and multiple air-conditioning units had been attached to the walls and ceiling with loose pipes and wiring left out on display. “It didn’t look like a home should,” he says.
The aim was to create comfortable, stylish residences that offered all the best in modern conveniences and contemporary styling, but also retained original Georgian period features. “We strived to deliver seamless living, with a lot of attention, money and time spent on the hidden elements of the houses, such as heating, hot water and multimedia,” Adir explains.
To start with, a number of the subdivided rooms were opened up, to restore them to their original grand proportions. “They were designed to be single rooms and it was a shame for them to not be used as intended,” he says.
Light-filled basements were created with the addition of modern glass structures to the rear of each property. These, says Adir, are a standout feature of the newly-renovated residences.
“The Swiss SkyFrame glass extensions have completely transformed the rear of the houses. Due to planning restrictions we had to think carefully about how to extend the properties but it has paid off; light now floods in at all levels, right down to the basements. During the warmer months you can open up the sliding doors directly onto the decking and gardens, creating the perfect space to entertain and unwind.”
Other 21st-century additions include German kitchens fitted with Siemens appliances, Daikin air conditioning and heating, and Lutron mood lighting. But every effort was also made to ensure that the properties retained some of their historic character. To this effect, a number of original Carrara marble fireplaces were restored and now form fully functional focal features in many of the rooms. All of the sash windows were restored, as were the doors, which required numerous bouts of sanding to bring them back to life. Intricate cornicing, decorative cast iron railings and historic chimney pieces were also meticulously restored to the highest level of craftsmanship.
According to Adir, there is really one only thing that the couple would have liked to do but was unable to. “We wanted to make all the ironmongery in chrome but the planners were not willing to accept this; they would also not have any lever handles so we opted for traditional rim locks with turn handles,” he explains.
And so, nearly 180 years after they were first constructed, two houses nestled in a corner of one of Islington’s prettiest garden squares have been restored to their former glory – and are now commanding asking prices of nearly Dh35 million (for number 58) and Dh25.7m (for number 59).
“These listed Georgian gems have been magnificently restored … to create two of the most sought-after addresses in the capital,” says Adir. “58 and 59 Myddelton Square will raise the bar for opulent, luxury living in Islington.”
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