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Sophie Hitchens

Sophie Hitchens

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Louisa Grey and Her House of Clay

Sophie Hitchens Wednesday 23rd March 2022

Clay House is one of our newest Light Locations, having joined us in early February. This masterpiece of design is the culmination of a creative concept from the multi-talented stylist and interior designer Louisa Grey. Whilst Clay House is a beautiful new home, workplace, and photoshoot location, Louisa has worked with us for many years, having previously owned the incredibly popular Wray Crescent.

We caught up with Louisa to dig deeper into Clay House and learn more about Louisa’s visionary interior design Studio House of Grey.

Can you tell us a little about the history of Clay House?

The same family owned the house for 50 years. A few years ago, the mother had passed away, so the family had rented it out as seven bedsits. As a result, the property had several kitchens and was rather unloved. The previous owner mentioned that we are only the fourth owner of the house. This was lovely to hear, considering how old the house is.

English Heritage visited the house in Autumn 2021, which revealed more of the house’s secrets. Its original owner, back in the Victorian era, was a tailor. And I think that sense of beauty, precision, design and creativity lives on in the space. 

What was the house like when you bought it?

There was rather more work than I had anticipated. But the benefits were that all the original features were still intact. And the floors had not been tampered with, which was a joy to discover.

What was your vision for the redesign of Clay House?

A salutogenically designed space was at the heart of our vision for the redesign of Clay House, based on a deep concern for respiratory health. Salutogenic design is an approach that focuses on the positive impact of design on human health. It’s about building structures and interiors that make people healthier and happier. It’s also the underlying ethos of my design studio, House of Grey.

We wanted every touchpoint to be VOC-free and for chemical-free living to be the guiding star for our creative process. So we incorporated it into every aspect of the design. For example, the mineral coated surfaces in the bathroom and kitchen are durable and resistant to wet weather. 

From an aesthetic point of view, the design of the house is not very ‘London’. Instead, it’s based on my Italian experiences in Puglia and wanting to create a holiday feel every day. The use of clay and concrete has been pivotal to this vision.  

What else can you tell us about the design of Clay House?

We use the kitchen space for photoshoots, events, for staff, and most of all – for family and day to day living. So it needs to provide the necessary flexibility to live holistically. We made key elements of the room changeable and movable, so nothing is fixed. As a result, now that we live and work in the space, everything we need to use every day is easily accessible. For example, we can easily roll the moveable kitchen island into different positions for serving on different occasions – even out onto the outside space.

Hidden plugs and hidden storage have been key to the House of Grey aesthetic and way of living for several years; they really are the gifts that keep on giving. These features provide small moments of joy each time you use them and contribute to a feeling of contentment in the space.

 The space works better in life than I had imagined. And the feeling and sense of escapism is precisely what I had envisaged.

Which areas of your home do you think will become photographic favourites?

Both the bathrooms are wonderful and designed as luxury spaces with a cob-house feel. The mineral coating of the surfaces surrounds you with warmth, whilst the bath and shower look like they are carved out of clay. They shoot beautifully and do not feel like you are in London.

How has your business ‘House of Grey’ evolved since we spoke about it in 2016?

The evolution has been to develop a ‘whole-person-whole-world approach’ to designing and building spaces for our clients. We holistically fuse the principles of Salutogenic Design with the aims of Circular Design to create unique, personal environments. Environments that actively promote human health and positively impact the planet. For those that haven’t heard about Circular design, it’s an environmentally considered approach to create something that doesn’t have the traditional lifecycle with a beginning, a middle and an end. The result is less waste and more added value to the environment.

We base each decision in our design process on this principle of using natural materials that benefit human health throughout their use and actively feed the earth upon disposal. At House of Grey, we are no longer simply finding sustainable design solutions; we now focus our work on eliminating the problem and leaving a positive design legacy.

Photography by Michael Sinclair

 

More New Locations

Clay House isn’t our only new location. Why now browse through all of our new and updated Light Locations. You’ll find plenty of new location inspiration from the jaw-dropping Elms in West Sussex to the cute and quirky Flower Factory in East London.

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With the easing of Covid restrictions we would like to request clients and location owners continue to test themselves before their shoot and recce days to try to ensure a safe working environment for both parties. We thank you for your co-operation.