Att Home with Charlee Allan
Since settling into our showroom at London Bridge last year we’ve been exploring other local businesses, to get more of a feel for the area. The obvious pinnacle being Borough Market, which is unbeaten for fresh produce from land and sea. Lantana Cafe is an Australian hot spot right across the street from us and so we undoubtedly utilise it for great coffee and brunch whenever we get the chance. One of our utter favourites though has to be Fish! Borough Market A well established seafood restaurant offering quality, locally sourced fish cooked right in front of you. We caught up with the director of Fish! Charlee Allan, who kindly agreed to show us around her and her husband Darren’s other labour of love, their East Dulwich home.
The couple’s abode is hidden away on a typical South East London residential street. Still a work in progress, on arrival the front garden was being dug up and a new pathway laid. On stepping inside, however newly renovated, one instantly feels as though you’ve arrived somewhere special, a hub of comfort and love. When giving the initial tour Charlee says how the property, forming the lower floor of a Victorian terraced house, has pretty much doubled in size thanks to their improvements alongside “putting our touch on the overall design of the space, incorporating some of the original features back in place has been quite a transformation, the flat had lost it's Victorian features and was quite cold and soulless when we bought it.” A couple of rooms in and it’s clear to see that a lot of careful thought and commitment has gone into altering that for the better.
The entry of the property is compact but well considered, with clever craftsmanship meaning that no space is wasted (there are even bespoke drawers built into the split-level steps!) “Staying completely engaged in every single aspect of the project at all times” by managing the build themselves is something Charlee comments was necessary to achieve such details and “ensure that it was exactly as we wanted it.” Towards the front of the property leads to the master bedroom with a vast dressing area and double doors to an internal courtyard. Just beside this is the adorable nursery for their little boy, Percy. A wall of mirrors then bounces light into the spacious bathroom, leading you to the incredible living-kitchen-dining space, opening out onto a large garden at the back, again a work in progress. “This has taken a huge amount of time, energy and patience, and without the help of family and friends we wouldn't have been able to achieve it. We also ensured that when we did call in trades, we got very good recommendations to ensure they would give us the best possible result.”
Being in the restaurant business, it is of no surprise that the kitchen takes centre stage in this fabulous property, quite literally in the middle of the sizeable living space. “The kitchen was always going to be the most important aspect in the house for us. We knew that it needed to be the central hub of our home as well as a showpiece, a talking point.” Contemporary yet classic in style the cabinetry is all bespoke solid wood, finished in a dark hue of green and a plethora of fabulous accessories. On chatting with Charlee she explained how this was her vision, brought to life finely by Dulwich Reclamation, who specialise in architectural salvage and interiors.
As is with kitchen, Charlee and Darren’s style in general is an eclectic mix of rich, bold colours and sumptuous materials. The feel is very Soho House meets Liberty London, with well appointed furnishings throughout and Diptyque candles scenting every corner. It feels like somewhere you’d want to be invited, which makes sense as the couple clearly love to entertain “We live around the kitchen island with friends and family coming and going, radio on and a good bottle of wine open.” As well as enjoying the space for themselves on the daily “Even when it is just the two of us, the stove is on, a new bag of groceries are ready to be prepared, the kitchen really is the most important space for us to relax and unwind whether it be exploring new recipes and ideas or just talking about our days.”
Due to the open and social nature of the living area, it’s interesting to draw the similarities between this private residential space and the fabulous Fish! Borough Market, which also “revolves around a completely open kitchen and prep area so there is nowhere to hide.” Charlee goes on to say that “what you see in Borough Market is exactly what we have to work with here and this is the approach we took with our own kitchen.” The family is so well rooted in the restaurant industry by this point that they’re well versed in creating a classy ambience whilst keeping things authentic “Of course it looks wonderful, however in both our home and the restaurant it does provide its own challenges as the space you see is the space we have, there isn't a utility or anywhere to hide mess so it does take a lot of upkeep!” Well, we love it all. Book a table at Fish! And check it out for yourself.
Words and photography by Joseph Walker