The Firs

The Firs
Architect: Unknown (to me)
Year built: 1960s (refurbished 2013)

I bought a flat off plan in this (re)development about a year and a half ago. An unscrupulous developer had bought up a boxy, slightly decrepit 1960s block with plans to turf out the existing residents, refurbish the facade, landscape the overgrown forecourt and gut the interiors. Looking at the floor plans and the building pre-makeover, it was clear that the flats were well proportioned with some old-fashioned features not often seen in new builds (separate kitchens, covered balconies, floor-to-ceiling windows) and I also liked the idea of living in a period block with refurbished communal areas so I put in an offer.

Unfortunately, the developer proceeded to modernise the block in a number of hideous ways. Given that the original building wasn’t exactly worthy of a Grade listing, I wasn’t expecting a fully sympathetic 1960s restoration but I could have done without the 90s-style red-brick wall with iron railings in the front, pine-cladded bike sheds plonked in the middle of the forecourt, random use of vaguely gothic typefaces all over the place and silver Juliet balconies bolted onto the front of the building.


Fortunately, the interior communal areas were refurbished quite nicely – I quite like the somewhat unusual red, grey and walnut colour scheme – and I also managed to intervene partway through the refurbishment of the interior of my flat before the developer started installing his stock fittings (though sadly not before he had ripped up the original parquet woodblock flooring).

For the floors, I was given a choice between carpet and karndean (a seemingly indestructible vinyl floor covering) so I opted for grey tile-effect karndean in the kitchen and bathroom and a neutral loop-style carpet everywhere else. For the kitchen, I went for a simple white gloss with butcher’s block-style work surfaces and white subway-style tiling with dark grouting (the kitchen cupboard handles are the short Blankett handles from Ikea). For all internal doors, I used a now-discontinued set of 1960s-looking handles from Ikea. I regret that I didn’t specify what I wanted in the bathroom – I’m finding the rectangular white tiling with the metallic silver trim a bit basic. I’d really like to retile it with square white tiles with dark grouting one day.

I spent about a year furnishing the flat gradually, going for a vaguely mid century modern look. I sourced furniture from eBay, knock-off design stores, more expensive design stores, my old flat and Ikea:


Living room:

  • Sofa – Mistral sofa from Heal’s
  • coffee table – vintage from eBay
  • picture frames – Ribba and Stromby frames from Ikea
  • shelving unit – 1970s vintage Poul Cadovius
  • black lamp – knock off Arne Jacobsen from Kingston Antiques Centre
  • furry footstool – vintage
  • spherical lamp on floor – Fado lamp from Ikea
  • knitted green pouffe – Donna Wilson for SCP
  • dining table – Docksta from Ikea
  • white dining chairs x2 – Tallow from Habitat
  • Eames-style dining chairs – knock offs from Cult Furniture
  • white plastic chair – Dwell
  • three-headed lamp – Heal’s
  • ceiling lamp – vintage Poul Henningson from eBay
  • picture hangers (holding posters suspended from ceiling) – TwentyTwentyOne
  • black and white rug – Maduro in Copenhagen
  • trolley – vintage
  • pottery – vintage assortment from Berlin and Copenhagen and Kingston Antiques Centre
  • yellow rectangular cushion – Hay
  • square green cushion – Skandium
  • roller blinds – Enje (cut to size) from Ikea
  • alarm clock – design store in Hong Kong
  • grey chair – knock off Eames Organic chair from A Modern World



  • chest of drawers – vintage Stag
  • bed – Studio (small double) from Warren Evans
  • Grey and white Aztec cushions – H&M home
  • white lamp – knock off Arne Jacobsen from Cult Furniture
  • square clock – Habitat
  • green chair – vintage Eames shell with la Fonda base (restored) from eBay
  • round three-legged table – knock off Tablo table from A Modern World
  • Boby trolley – vintage Joe Columbo from eBay
  • orange lamp on table and alarm clock – flea market from Berlin
  • ceiling pendant light – knock off George Nelson bubble lamp from Interior Addict
  • shelving – Ribba picture ledges from Ikea
  • blinds – Kvartal system from Ikea



  • free-standing wall mirror – Hovet from Ikea
  • low wall shelving – Ekby brackets from Ikea with pine shelves
  • orange chair – knock off Eames from Cult Furniture
  • wall shelving – String from Haus London
  • desk – 90s John Lewis
  • desk chair – 90s Ikea
  • Japanese lantern-style lamp – Habitat
  • white desk lamp – Vintage from Berlin flea market
  • orange topped stools – modified Frosta from Ikea
  • ceiling pendant light – George Nelson lantern lamp from SCP
  • blinds – Kvartal system from Ikea



  • coat hook – knock off walnut Hang-It-All from Cult Furniture
  • white chair – restored Alvar Aalto chair 66 from eBay
  • rug – paper carpet from Hay


  • radio – Bush FM radio from Argos


Kitchen and balcony:

  • wall clock – vintage Staiger from Kingston Antiques Centre
  • roller blind – Enje from Ikea
  • fish tea towel – Zara Home
  • balcony table and chairs – Ikea
  • white plant stand – PS 2014 from Ikea

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