My Modern House: supper club extraordinaire Hanna Geller Goldsmith shows us around her reimagined 1930s home in Maida Vale
My Modern House
“I used to be an interior architect and I started this project between my third and fourth child. It was a mock Arts and Crafts house from the 1930s, but we demolished it soon after we bought it and built an entirely new space behind the façade.
“We wanted to create something that worked for us as a modern space but felt true to the character of the original building. We previously lived in a tall Victorian house which had large bedrooms and little living space, and I really coveted a big communal space which we could spend time together in.
“I grew up in a house that was the hub of everything and I always wanted our home to be that way.
“I worked with an amazing architect called Guy Stansfeld who I’ve collaborated with for about 15 years. He really understood the premise of the design and applied it to every aspect: from deliberately scaling down the size of the children’s bedrooms to encourage them into the living space, to investing more time and thought in the design of the circulation space and communal areas.
“The site’s history as a 1930s house did influence certain elements of the design. I grew up in the Garden Suburb of Golders Green where all of the houses had Critall windows, and that style really informed the design of the doors in the house.
“The staircase was also a key aspect of the redesign. It was originally placed in the centre of the house where it disrupted the flow of the space, so we relocated it and created this soft, sculptural form that curves up through the house. It’s actually made of ply, but it has this beautiful oak banister.
“The bones of a building are incredibly important. It’s rare to find a lateral house in London and I love how it’s so light-filled. We kept the joists intact beneath each of the skylights because it created such an amazing play of light and shadow.
“We brought most of the furniture from our old house. The sideboard in the living room and the walnut dining chairs originally belonged to my husband’s uncle who spent his honeymoon in Scandinavia in the 1960s. He brought some beautiful pieces back with him for his first home.
“The orange chairs are from Alfies Antiques Market. They were simple frames without any seats so I had them upholstered.
“The Vitsoe shelves in the kitchen are beloved because they hold all of my recipe books. There are sections which are very logical – the bottom row is all baking – but other sections sporadically alternate between author, region, diet and reference… one portion is all 1950s Americana with books from my grandmother!
“When I was working as a designer, I never held a project meeting without food. We called them ‘Builder’s Feasts’ and in a way that was the seed of Building Feasts and the supper clubs that I now run with Jeremy Coleman. I actually started the blog the same week I found out I was pregnant with my fourth child.
“It’s incredible to have a home that’s enabled me to work in a new way. I often cook for 15 people on Friday evenings so I knew I would be doing lots of entertaining when I designed the house – but the cooking classes and supper clubs only developed after we moved in.
“Jeremy and I always host the supper clubs here and we’ve had some great collaborators. We held one with the Pump Street Bakery and another with The Flower Appreciation Society, and it’s just developed very organically. The next club is planned for the 13th September and we are currently working on something special for Thanksgiving.
“For me, my family, cooking and the space are all integral to one another. Food was at the centre of family life when I was growing up and I suppose part of that comes from being Jewish – because of the Friday dinners – but eating is a very natural time when everybody comes together and I love that.
“Creating a space that is peaceful, welcoming and puts you at ease is all part of it.”
What’s your definition of modern living?
“For me, modern design is inclusive and understated, but that doesn’t mean it has to be stark. My modern space still needs to be warm and welcoming. It’s interesting to think about modern living because, is this modern or is it just current? In many senses my life is very traditional because I’m still trying to be a mother, but I’m creating a new kind of career from my home and that flexible approach to work and that new approach to space feels modern.”
If you were to move, what’s the first thing you’d take with you?
“I’m quite sentimental so I’d probably take my Hans Wegner rocking chair. I’ve held all of my children while sitting in it so it has a lot of happy memories.”
Are there any properties on The Modern House that have caught your eye over the years?
“I’ve always been very interested in Frank Lloyd Wright, the Prairies and 1950s Americana, but I’m very drawn to Klein House and St. Ann’s Court in Surrey. They’re exceptional spaces.”