The house that jazz built: Inside a transformed, light-filled retreat for musicians Stacey Kent and Jim Tomlinson

An Edwardian-style house that was converted into a student residence with sinks in each bedroom and a jungle garden stocked with beer bottles wasn’t the best choice for Stacey Kent or Jim Tomlinson, who bought the home in 2002. “We were always on the road, always recording, always in our studio, and always had music to write. Kent says that we were so involved with our careers that the house kept getting put on hold. “But we are very homebodies, and we love to be at home. It’s a funny thing to say, but as touring musicians, we didn’t want our lives to be chaotic. The former loft space has been transformed into a bright, airy studio/music room with a view.
Juliet Murphy Photography. The couple, now in their 50s had been put off by the first round of renovations. They knew that it would be a mistake to do the house slowly. Kent and Tomlinson met Charlie Avara in 2017, the managing director of All Done Design, a local design and build company. They got along well and shared a lot of common ground, having all spent a lot time in the US. Kent laughs as he talks about the light in West, which is very different from here, and how they could evoke some details in north London. “We could not create a Western home, but we had such a clear vision that it was easy for us all to find a common language. We could also talk about the elements we could bring to London. The project took nine months to complete and cost?400,000. It also included a two-storey extension at the rear and an extensive internal renovation. The couple went through a lot of emotional upheaval, both personally and professionally.
/ Juliet Murphy Photography “It was a really difficult time,” Kent says. His mother died shortly after the project began. “We didn’t have a home, and we were just beginning a huge tour because we had an album. It was huge because there were 58 of them on the record. It was quite dramatic at the time. The finished house, which is hidden behind an Edwardian facade, is a light-filled, creative haven. The hallway was stripped of dark oak panelling so that light can flood the space through an original stained glass window.
We are very homebodies and love to be at home. It’s a funny thing to say about touring musicians.
Dark chevron floor tiles are almost identical to those the couple saw on their Paris trip to Hotel Banke. They now tie the ground floors together. Concrete LCDA’s Panbeton panelling was one material she wanted to recommend to the couple. It is found on three walls and surrounds a Riva inset gas fireplace. The couple picked up blankets and cushions on their trips to Portugal, Finland, and Lithuania. The couple brought blankets and cushions with them on their trips to Portugal, Finland, and Lithuania.
/ Juliet Murphy PhotographyThe panels give off a warmer, darker feel, says Tomlinson. I think that a lot people make the mistake of trying to make it feel lighter in dark countries. They paint everything white and have light floors. You can make it feel cozy by going with the flow and not worrying about the lack of light. If you choose warmer and darker tones, you will be able to make it feel more comfortable than if you don’t turn the lights on yet. The couple’s new laundry room is just off their kitchen. Previously, they had to go through two doors to access the basement storage room. From there, they can choose to use darker or warmer tones to make it feel more cozy.
Juliet Murphy Photography. An existing terrace on the first floor was used as a master bedroom. A new terrace was added to the rear extension with a raised roof. Recessed blinds were chosen to ensure that the couple could have a blackout if they needed to reset their bodies clocks after touring. Kent says that soundscape is very important to them. “We are musicians and we talk about sound all of the time. They appear and then disappear, leaving you with this incredible view of the garden. “Playspaces”: The couple converted an old formal sitting room into a ping-pong room with a red rubber flooring.
Juliet Murphy Photography. The most surprising element of the home renovation is the ping pong area with a bright red rubber flooring. This was previously a formal sitting room. “We love to play Ping-pong. We don’t play professionally, we just like to ping-pong. Professionals, however, are on a red carpet. The couple can use the space as a storage area for their gear or luggage when they are on tour. However, the house was able to meet their lockdown needs and allow them to record and write online with their musicians in New York. Songs From Other Places was their most recent album. It was released in autumn. “Design is a dialogue,” said a friend from America, a Colorado architect. Kent says that Kent’s words have stuck with him. “It’s a simple, wonderful thought. It was a deep, ongoing conversation. It means that living in the house is a very personal and happy experience. “Tickets to see the couple perform at Ronnie Scott’s from June 13 to 15 are on sale now (; visit or @staceykentofficialBalcony chairs: Acapulco II accent chairs, ?169.99 for two, BelianiLiving room chairs: Vera armchair by Porada, ?3,180, through Heal’sPendant lights above the dining table: Voronoi bulbs, from ?80, by TalaPing-pong room floor: Red foam flooring, ?15.96 for nine 30cm puzzle mats, at Soft Floor Kids