Home is where the art is: how one vintage poster dealer updated a Sixties wreck in Forest Hill for the 21st century

Most house hunting will begin online in 2022. Harriet Chalk was determined to find Little Brownings in Forest Hill. However, no properties were up for sale. Chalk began to write letters to almost a dozen owners, asking them to sell. One resident, who had tried to renovate more than she could chew, was eager to move on. “I looked at a lot of areas, but this row of houses was the only one that worked for us. So I wrote letters and it worked! Chalk loves the estate’s mid-century design, its leafy location close to Sydenham Hill Wood, and the proximity of schools. It was a three-storey, sixties house that was neglected. It had no back door and moldering walls. The house was put up for sale due to low interest. Chalk and her partner bought the house for GBP725,000. To make the house habitable for their children and their partner, Chalk and her then-partner, added a door, removed the mould and stripped wallpaper and carpet. 18 months later, they began a major refurbishment that would cost GBP220,000. Chalk says that while downstairs looked fine if you weren’t too close, upstairs looked like a squat. It was quite grim, but it wasn’t going be for long. “A glazed inlet in our kitchen mirrors the original 1960s floor to ceiling glass rear wall. A curving pink concrete island seperates the space from the dining room / Adrian Lourie. They brought on board architects Margaret Bursa (archmongers.com), who specialize in innovative renovations for homes of this era. “They are passionate about renovating mid-century modernist buildings that have been neglected and putting life back in them. Chalk says that they seemed to be perfect. Chalk then moved the family to a rental house on the same estate for six month while Chalk worked. Archmongers paid homage to the Sixties details of this property while improving the design and layout for modern living. The kitchen has a glazed inlet that is full of plants, large skylights, and windows. It mirrors the original glazed rear wall, which allows light to flow from the ground floor. My island looks like an enormous concrete tongue. It was one of the best decisionsOff-the-rack cupboard carcasses have been elevated with doors by Ikea-hacker company Reform, marble surfaces and a custom-made curving pink concrete island that separates the space from the dining area. Chalk jokes that it looks like a giant concrete tongue. He says it offers storage and a small larder to keep things tidy. It was one of the best decisions. It doesn’t matter if the design is pretty. “Harriet and Teddy, the dog she adopted, moved to the dining room from the main house. They stayed there for six months, while they worked on the property. / Adrian Lourie. The “tongue” is one example of a few pops of colour in the otherwise minimalist design. Chalk says, “We wanted to create something that would last a long time in a very classic way.” Chalk says that the tongue is a unique feature, but the marble is otherwise very classic. You can paint or decorate around it. It should last a long time and be easy to remove. “A section of modular 606 Universal Shelving System by Dieter Rams for Vitsoe stretches across one side of the lounge. On the other side, vintage posters are brightened up with vintage posters. Chalk, along with Sylwia Neuman, runs a Polish School of Posters dealership called Projekt 26 (projekt26.com). They were all created during communist rule in Poland and were commissioned to create all major cultural outputs by the ministry. The ministry was the only place you could work as an artist. There was no market so you had to work for it. The artists were able strike a deal by designing the posters. They were left to their creativity. The posters are sold online and at fairs by Chalk and Newman. “We are on a mission to tell the entire story of the art movement as well as the artists. Chalk says that their names should be as well-known as Picasso and David Hockney. The lounge’s one side is brightened by vintage posters / Adrian Lourie. They run Project 26 from the house. The bi-folding door at top of the stairs can be used for separating or joining their studio with the landing. It is accessed by a sliding door. This has allowed for a separate bathroom and toilet for the bedroom. “All the dimensions are very generous in comparison to modern building standards. They were thoughtfully designed when they were built. Not only in terms of architecture, but also in terms landscaping. It’s a community. They all look out on each other, and there are trees planted. It feels like a little oasis,” Chalk says. She particularly loves the sense of community that Chalk has on the estate, where her neighbors range from newborns to 95-year-olds. “I love living there. It is a small area in south-east London that has a very relaxed feel. “Get the lookBench One in oak, GBP575-GBP1,310, at Another CountryHappy Romance vintage film poster by Jerzy Flisak, 1974, GBP200, at Projekt 26Flowerpot VP1 pendant lamp, GBP205, at SkandiumCesca side chair by Knoll, GBP660, at Heal’sVintage G-Plan teak sideboard, GBP795, at Mustard VintageSuppliersArchitect: ArchmongersBuilder: Chris Rauchegger of JCR ProjectsPaint: Ambleside by Little GreeneKitchen island: design by Archmongers, supplied by Concrete CarrotKitchen cupboard doors: ReformPinboard: design by Archmongers using Forbo Linoleum in blueberry