My Home: Morag Myerscough
In the process of reshaping her home, designer Morag Myerscough created a space that became her own retail outlet. Mary Wilson reports
Wednesday 24 August 2005
I bought the house in 1997 because I needed more workspace. At the time, I was sharing a flat with my sister in Rosebery Square and renting a studio in Charterhouse Square, which I had to get out of.
I'd never bought a property before, but it had the space I wanted and I only looked at it once before I put in an offer. I had to find a mortgage in two weeks, as it was going up for auction, but I managed to get one in place just in time and bought it just before the auction went ahead.
It had been an art worker's studio downstairs, with a flat upstairs that had been rented out, so it was a bit shabby. But I love the area because it's quite villagey. We all know each other and go to the same bars and restaurants. It has a nice, friendly atmosphere and at the weekend it's completely quiet, because there are no business people around. You can walk to everywhere - Oxford Street, St Paul's and over to the Tate Gallery, all within 15 minutes.
When I made the first alterations to the house eight years ago, I took out the old staircase and moved it to make the rooms bigger, and built on the extension at the back. The rear wall of the living room on the first floor is glass block tiles, and with three sash windows at the front, which still have the original glass, the room is very light, but cool. I also put down new floors, as the old ones were a bit wonky and had to be straightened out, and knocked down the little bathroom at the top, so I could make the whole of that floor into my bedroom. Lots of people have criticised me for only putting in one bedroom, but I think it's better to have the rooms that you want. If I have guests to stay, they sleep on the sofa.
The bedroom is the most feminine room in the house. I painted the floorboards, walls and ceilings white and put a Victorian-style cast-iron bath in the middle of the room, which is made out of an old mould from a shop in Essex Road. Over the bath is a wonderful photograph by Richard Learoyd of a cherry tree in blossom with blue sky. I've had it for years and it always makes me feel happy. And it's lovely to be able to watch television from the bath.
I didn't live in the house until 2001. At first, I just used the ground floor as a studio and the upstairs rooms as meeting rooms. I had no kitchen at all for four years. Then I moved the studio out to a larger space three doors down. There were six designers working there, on anything from brochures to exhibitions for the Design Museum or the British Council. I've just designed and styled my first show flat in Leather Lane, and I design anything from fabrics to ceramics.
When the studio moved out, I turned the workspace into a kitchen, but it was so big I thought it would make a great gallery for artists who couldn't find one elsewhere. Then the gallery merged into my shop, her house, which would still be there if the estate agents didn't think that it would be easier to sell without it. Most of the modern pieces in the house are things that have been designed for the shop over the past few years and anything you see in her house will be exactly the same as I have here, because it's all about my taste.
I've picked up other pieces of furniture from antique shops and secondhand shops. I think the cane chair is one of Terence Conran's 1960s designs, but I didn't know that when I bought it. The embroidered cushions are either made by myself or by my mother, Betty, who makes lots of things for the shop.
I put the "hut" on the top of the building two years ago. This is now the kitchen and my favourite room. It's environmentally friendly - the exterior is made with huge slices of green oak and the insulation is lamb's wool. The floor is hard-wearing oak boards, from the Solid Floor Company, just around the corner.
The wood has a ripple effect, which is especially useful at the moment, as I have two mad West Highland Whites rushing around and it helps to stop them skidding. One, called Lemmie, is mine, and I am looking after a friend's Westie as well. I hardly ever use the log-burning stove as it's so warm up here, but the space at the bottom of the log burner makes a good store for the dogs' toys.
Another reason I love this room is because I worked with an architect to design it exactly the way I wanted, which is so much better than having to adapt a space which is already there. It's designed so I can work in it easily and not have to move around too much. I can cook and serve the food without having far to go. The units are in cherry, although I wanted them to be in plywood like Corbusier's hunting lodge in the South of France, but I couldn't get the material here.
The roof slides right open, which is lovely when it's warm, and I can open the doors either end onto the terrace one side and a balcony the other. You can also see the sky - which is amazing for London. I love the house, it's very calm and I'm only moving because I need more workspace. And until I can decide which agent to put my house with, I'm going to try to sell it myself.
The 1,345 sq ft, one-bedroom house is for sale for £ 735,000. (Studio Myerscough, 020 7729 2760).
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