Jacqueline's Historied Home on the Thames

Jacqueline's Historied Home on the Thames

Eleanor Büsing
Aug 14, 2012

Name: Jacqueline (pictured with daughter Pereen)
Location: Mortlake, London, United Kingdom
Size: 2,500 square feet
Years lived in: 29 years; owned

I was tipped off to Jacqueline's beautiful riverside home by a mutual friend of her daughter (and architect, but we'll get to that) Pereen. I'd been told of the lovely location and relaxed ambiance of the home, as well as the marvelous art collection within, but nothing quite prepared me for the many layers of history and design which I discovered here.

On arrival I was greeted by both Jacqueline, who has called the space home for nearly 30 years, and Pereen, who grew up here. After making me a cup of tea, the two women sat me down and proceeded to amaze me with their combined knowledge of, and passion for, this multi-layered and historic building.

The site, in a quiet area of west London, was once the home of English mathematician, astronomer and consultant to Elizabeth I John Dee's famous library. Jacqueline told me she occasionally sees history buffs on the street outside, taking photos of the house. However, since the 1600's the site has been home to a free house (a privately-owned pub) and the current building was erected in 1885. In the 1970's it was converted (somewhat badly, to hear Jacqueline tell it) into three flats, which were only sporadically lived in.

It was in a derelict state that Jacqueline and her ex-husband purchased the property in the early 1980's, with the dream of combining the flats into one family home. Several phases of renovations followed, including the construction of a modern brick-and-timber home, called "The Big House", in the front courtyard, which now hides the original property from the street. The Big House, which is quite a well-known piece of modern architecture in this part of London, was sold after development, allowing Jacqueline and her family to keep adapting the original property to suit their needs.

Last year, it was Pereen's turn to leave her mark on her childhood home. With plans to retire and no need for countless extra rooms, Jacqueline wanted to contain her living areas to one floor, and sell off the rest of the property. To this end, Pereen created a modern, sleek penthouse apartment from the second floor, which has recently been sold. If that wasn't ambitious enough, Pereen also designed two indoor/outdoor spaces, one for each apartment in the building. The Pavilion, as it's referred to, is a glass-fronted, rooftop room which affords stunning views over the Thames, all the way to London's East end.

When asked whether it was difficult to work for her mother, Pereen laughs. "Not really — I know her style so well, but we almost had to approach it as though I didn't". This meant regular weekly meetings and approvals, just as with any other client. More intimidating for Pereen was the responsibility of working on such a visible and historic site. "I can see the building when I get off the bus nearby, and it's clearly visible from the river and the opposite bank, as well." This prominent location, as well as the site's role as a place of historic note and modern architecture, meant that each decision had to be carefully considered.

Phase Two of Pereen's plan is set to begin next month, which will see the original sweeping wooden staircase replaced with a modern glass elevator and light shaft, so Jacqueline can access her rooftop room with ease. The mother-daughter duo has also received planning permission to add two Juliet balconies to the living room and master bedroom, a nod to the original timber porch which once swept around the entire building at that level.

Photographing this home, I was struck by how the many faces of the building echo those of London itself; historic, modern, and ever-evolving.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Not "overly designed", but with many wonderful details. A fairly loud colour palette.
Pereen: Minimal use of materials, clean lines, shifting boundaries and wrapping facades.

Inspiration: Artists, particularly Mondrian and Ben Nicholson.
Pereen: For the pavilion, the existing building itself, and the river.

Favorite Element: Spacious rooms, high ceilings.
Pereen: The brick floor in the pavilion.

Biggest Challenge: Keeping within budget. Desire vs. Practicality.
Pereen: The brick floor in the pavilion! Each brick was individually glued in place and careful detailing took place to enable a level threshold whilst maintaining damproofing. There was very little depth to play with.

Biggest Embarrassment: Nothing at all.

Biggest Indulgence: Definitely the art collection — it's wonderful to have pieces from a range of artists I admire.

Best Advice: Don't rush. Think about it all — everything takes a lot of energy, both mental and physical, so spend it well. Creating a home is also
costly financially and if thought through, things will last a long time… even more reason not to rush.

Dream Sources: London is my dream source, a city of constant inspiration.

Resources of Note:


    • Architecture (Pavilion and penthouse apartment): Russian for Fish (Pereen's practice)


    • New concrete stairs: M&M Architectural Ltd.
    • Mobile: Elephant Party by Flensted
    • Light fixture: Heal's
    • Wall hanging: From my student days!
    • Curtain fabric: John Lewis


    • Large pendant lights: Random Light Moooi by Bertjan Pot
    • Dining table: Heal's
    • Sofas: Habitat
    • Red floor lamp: Local London boutique (no longer exists)
    • Elephants: All over the world. I've collected elephants for the last 30 years… I think it all started with a large black wood elephant which was a gift from Mumbai.


    • Table: John Lewis
    • Chairs: Philippe Stark
    • Pendant light: Habitat
    • Flooring: Dalsouple


    • Polished plaster: Franco Finishes
    • Brick pavers: Chelmer Valley
    • Windows: Sunflex
    • Metalwork: M&M Architectural Ltd.
    • Lighting: Viabizzuno
    • Sofas: Habitat
    • Bench/Desk (in corner): Rescued from a neighbour — it used to be in their childrens' room and they were throwing it out.
    • Cardboard side tables: Tiger
    • Rug: Conran Shop

Thanks, Jacqueline!

(Images: Eleanor Büsing)

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