They say the Devil is in the detail. If that’s the case, welcome to heaven. The owner of this particular warehouse apartment is sinfully proud of his religious avoidance of frilliness and fluff. He’s gone back to basics, and then some, in creating a raw and urban environment in which to dwell.
Take a wander round this entire floor of a former Spitalfields furniture factory and you’ll find little in the way of fanciful embellishments. Skirting boards, architraves, window shelves and the like, have no place in this shrine to the God of authentic loft living. In place of paraphernalia, you’ll find 1700 sq ft of open and gritty space, with all its rough’n’readiness intact. But while superfluous garnish has been left out, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to see. It’s more a case of raw ingredients, than bare essentials.
The owner found the place in the early 90s and has been here ever since. It’s one of those dream purchases where someone finds a man with an empty ruin, offers to buy a floor, takes on the work himself, and everyone gets what they want with no property developer involved. Never on the market since, this is the first opportunity anyone will get to buy a ready-made loft in this building.
The process of fitting the place out is no lesser tale of good fortune, coupled with a bit of old-fashioned legwork. Instead of the customary pilgrimage to B&Q, forays to local – and not so local – building sites unearthed a series of treasures, all before today’s fashion for all things warehouse. You’d never get that lucky now.
In one notably fluky incident, an old shop in Camberwell with a warehouse out the back, produced a bounty of lights fittings never used since the 1950s – packed for the military back in the day, but suddenly without a purpose. They sat there undisturbed for 40 years. Today they hang from exposed metal conduit on a ceiling in Spitalfields.
Getting back to the space, three massive, metal-framed industrial windows are a magnet for natural light; the Bisazza-tiled bathroom has another four windows, one of which forms the side of the shower area, and becomes a golden chamber with the morning sun from the East; the kitchen is suitably open plan and sports a custom built concrete worktop; the bedroom leads out to a decked balcony and has a large north-facing window, perfect for budding or blossomed artists. More true grit comes from a series of four giant warehouse doors hiding a large store room, while iron columns with peeling paint further enhance the keeping-it-realness.
Hanbury Street is one of the most historically significant in Spitalfields, if not London. But don’t take our word for it. Take instead the words of historian and former director of Save Britain’s Heritage, William Palin. “Hanbury Street, formerly Browns Lane, is the oldest of all these thoroughfares once linking St Dunstan’s Church in the old manor of Stepney with the Priory of St Mary Spital, the route is 1,000 years old, predating even Brick Lane. Along its length virtually every era of architecture is represented from the 17th to the 20th Centuries. It represents, in my mind, a cross-section of everything which makes the area so distinctive.” Can’t say fairer than that.