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Designer Jason Maclean's London "garage" getaway screams California cool

I made sure I came to this house with almost nothing: a bag of clothes, an airbed and a few modernist pieces I had bought in America. The beauty of a place like this is you only need 10 bits of furniture to fill it.

I had been looking for a place for ages when a friend suggested The Modern House, an online estate agency that deals in 20th-century architecture. Just a few weeks before, I'd been in Palm Springs, visiting Eames House, and when I came to view this one-storey house in Camberwell, I was struck by how similar it was in look and feel, even down to the bamboo trees planted around the windows. It feels like a world away from London – it's so tranquil. You wake up on a sunny morning and open the windows to the courtyard and you could almost be in California or Thailand.

I spoke to some people who've lived in the flats opposite for 15 years and they didn't even know the house existed. It's on a plot next to a row of garages and when it was built in the 1970s, one of the conditions for planning permission was that it didn't look too different. It's pretty nice for a garage.

I love the simplicity of mid-century modern pieces such as the Danish Jason chairs, but there's also huge attention to detail and finish in their construction.

Most of the furniture here is over 50 years old, but it's as good as new. That's a testament to good design. I hand-built the units in the kitchen and the dining table.

I'm quite a private person so this place is a retreat for me. I don't need to throw wild dinner parties – I'm happy just spending time here on my own.

Jason Maclean is currently working on the next instalment in a series of boutique properties, The House at... Cannes, which will open this summer as a luxury retreat and venue for functions (www.maclean interiors.com, www.thehouseat.com)

Get the look: modern moments

1. Top table

"Machine age" chic Charlotte Perriand table. £1,170, from Van Der Meersch & Weston, www.alfiesantiques.com

2. Reclining beauty

Lie back and relax on a Toscana day-bed. £1,100, www.habitat.co.uk

3. Light touch

The modernist look at a Matalan price. £20, www.matalan.co.uk