A Former London Pub Turned Cozy Home
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Name: Sally Morgan-Flower
Location: East London
Size: 700 square feet
Years lived in: 3 and a half years
This beautifully-restored apartment, brimming with unique historic details, occupies one floor of a converted 1850s pub in the heart of London’s East End. Its renovation is an ongoing labour of love for owners Sally and David, who set out to stay true to the apartment’s original aesthetic yet at the same time create a lived-in home that feels comfortable and not too precious.
The apartment’s previous owner, an architectural historian, started the renovation, and he attended to every historical detail. Sally and David like the idea that they are guardians of the building and that each set of owners will add something different and new while caring for the fabric of the property.
They’ve restored elements such as the windows and shutters, as well as introducing their choice of charcoal, blue-greys and soft white paint on walls and floors and adding their own mix of old world style and mid-century furniture. Having been in the interiors industry for more than 10 years, and now working at laid-back furniture brand Loaf, Sally has a passion for good design and a great eye for detail. And the apartment is available to rent on airbnb.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Really the character of the old 1850s converted pub determined the space. But we love a mix of old world romance and sleeker mid-century pieces like our 1950s wicker bucket chairs.
Inspiration: The last owner was an architectural conservationist and had fantastic taste with lots of beautiful antique furniture. They really put a lot of love into kicking off the renovations and I totally fell in love with the place on seeing it.
I’m a massive fan of Lassco; we go to Maltby Street Market most weekends and always pop in for a snoop. I love how it’s so well curated; they frequently mix up the space and they always have interesting furniture and salvage pieces there. You can buy original paneling for an entire room or walk away with smaller stuff like bathroom accessories, unusual gifts or even stylish brass letters for your front door.
As William Morris famously said, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
Favorite Element: I read a lot so it has to be the bookshelves in the living space holding our collection of Penguin classics.
Biggest Challenge: The pub is locally listed and a couple of years ago we did a big restoration project to the exterior including putting a new roof on, replacing all the old rotten windows and restoring the original façade and pub signage. It’s now been brought back to its former glory as the outside was definitely looking on the shabby side. Someone even thought it was derelict! We got a lot of support from locals who were happy to see the building being looked after and wanted to chat about what we were up to.
Also, I’m quite sentimental and I love collecting new artwork or restoring antique furniture pieces. But I could very easily slip into hoarding territory and as space is such a commodity in London, I have to make a real effort to keep “stuff” to a minimum. I tend to do a big clear out every six months or so. I like a space to feel uncluttered and home should be relaxing. We’re going to be living here for a few years at least and it’s important to feel like we have space to grow into.
What Friends Say: “When are you going to get a beer pump for the bar?”
Get the look! → Mid-Century Modern in an 1850 Pub
Biggest Embarrassment: We’ve even had the builders asking to take a photo of our old-school throne-style Victorian loo and it gives my nieces and nephews the giggles when they come to stay. We’ve considered putting a modern one in but we just can’t bring ourselves to get rid of the original.
Proudest DIY: As is the way with old buildings, ours needs frequent love and attention. My husband is the true star if anything needs repairing or building — out comes his pencil and notepad for meticulous planning and sketching. I’m fairly nifty myself with a drill and basic stuff. I think you just have to get on with it and give it a go like our parents’ generation did. Otherwise we would spend an absolute fortune on tradesmen. YouTube is my best friend when it comes to DIY troubleshooting. The door broke on our big range oven so I took the entire thing apart to fix it and put it all back together again, only mildly panicking half way through about what on earth I was doing!
Biggest Indulgence: Having pink velvet curtains draped around the “nook” where our bed is. I’m not really a pink person but I’m mad about velvet and the colour works really well against the grey walls. We draw the curtains in winter to make it super cosy.
Best Advice: Let a space evolve and don’t do everything at once. I believe that you have to live in a home for a while to get a good understanding of how you use the space and what you do and don’t need.
Dream Sources: Our sofa, big ottoman footstool and mattress are all from Loaf. They’re all handmade with love in the UK and are insanely comfy. They’ll definitely be coming with us to our next home!
All of our paint is from Farrow & Ball. I try looking at other brands but Farrow & Ball hands-down does the best colours. Their palette fits with our aesthetic and we know that if we add a new colour then it will work with the rest of the apartment. In the end we suck up the eye-watering price but it’s worth it.
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