By Amanda Pollard, Houzz

After designing numerous beautiful houses for their clients, architects Maya Carni and Ran Ankory planned to make a project of their first family home. Their search for a place to work on took them just a few yards away from their apartment since they bought a neighbor’s larger Victorian house. “The house was still in its original layout,” Carni says. “As we’re architects, that was perfect for us.” The couple set about creating a personal home that feels light, airy and comfortable, and that will grow with their family.

Photos by Matt Clayton

Houzz at a Glance
Who lives here: Maya Carni and Ran Ankory of Scenario Architecture and their two sons
Location: Stoke Newington area of London
Size: Five bedrooms, 4½ bathrooms

The primary goal for Carni and Ankory’s home renovation was to create a connection between the two living rooms and the garden. “The two street-level front sitting rooms are a full floor above the lower-ground kitchen and garden,” Carni says. “So we opened up the two rooms and lowered the back one by two steps.” You can now see right out to the garden from the front of the house, but the areas remain separate.

Wall paint throughout: Brilliant White, Dulux; rug: City Cows

The first living room is situated in the original front room. A simple scheme helps highlight the room’s period features. “The bay window is a lovely feature of Victorian houses,” Carni says. “It didn’t need any blinds or curtains, just shutters.”

A low shelf runs along the whole side wall and into the next space. A closed area beneath the television hides cumbersome items, such as the DVD and cable box.

A beautiful parquet replaced the original laminate floor. “I love herringbone, but it’s very expensive, so we decided to use it just for the main part of the house and chose a more cost-effective solution elsewhere,” Carni says. The space is uncluttered and simple, so the floor adds texture and is a feature in itself.

The second living area is a relaxed space with a fireplace below the extended white wall. “Fire is a big element in a house,” Carni says. “This is a gas one, so it’s cleaner and has a remote control. It’s so easy to use, a real luxury.”

The couple didn’t want this area to feel like a hallway on the way to the kitchen, so the fire works well as a focal point. “We spent a lot of time this winter sitting on poufs in front of the fire,” Carni says.

The library above is where the powder room used to be. “It felt heavy with the wall there,” Carni says. “So we got rid of the wall, which created a nook where the library is now. It now feels lighter, as if it’s floating.”

A glass balustrade lines the eight steps that lead to the kitchen level. A tilted skylight above draws the eye out toward the garden.

The herringbone on the stairs presented a big challenge since it had to form a precise pattern. The floor is actually glued to an MDF underlay board, which provided the couple with a solution. “For the stairs, we took a flat board and glued herringbone onto one whole piece,” Carni says. “Then we cut it into sections and glued it onto the stairs.”

An exposed brick wall adds character to the kitchen, while the mostly glass back wall is broken up with a window seat. “We’re not big fans of flat walls of glass doors because there’s always something you can do,” Carni says. “We love window seats, as they provide a space between the inside and outside, so we created a half bay window.”

Beneath the window seat is a handy storage area for DIY equipment.

The polished concrete in the kitchen continues to the patio, linking the inside and out.

“The garden is a separate project,” Carni says. “We’d like to add a pergola so that we can sit outside when it’s raining.” For now, though, the lawn is perfect for the kids to play soccer on.

The kitchen is a clean, clutter-free space with plenty of storage. Simple pendant lights illuminate the breakfast bar at the far end. A pop-up exhaust fan sits behind the island cooktop, and the sink has a Quooker faucet for instant hot water.

Carni isn’t keen on upper cabinets and used a couple of tall units for storage instead. The box shelves add decoration.

Kitchen cabinets: Pronorm; cooktop and exhaust fan: Siemens

The cleverly designed space under the stairs stores the children’s toys and craft supplies. Each section is either a drawer or a cabinet, and some slide open, while others lift up.

Two floor plans show the layout of the home’s lower levels.

Scenario Architecture has developed a range of wood stains with its supplier, and the couple chose a dark shade for the oak floor. The moody rustic finish provides a stunning contrast with the white walls.

The main bedroom was large enough for the couple to add an en suite bathroom.

A cabinetmaker built the vanity unit. Instead of a glass screen next to the shower, the couple opted for a plain wall.

Mirrors: Hay

The children prefer to share a bedroom at the moment, but when they’re older, there are enough rooms for each to have his own space. “We’re very lucky to have so much room,” Carni says. “So we were able to use an extra bedroom to create a walk-in wardrobe.”

“The boys often ask us what we do at work all day, so we decided to get them involved,” Carni says. “They helped with the design process for their own bedroom.”

The unused space in the eaves became a den. The boys found solutions for getting up and down — a climbing wall and a fire pole, of course. “I got the climbing stones from Amazon,” Carni says. “Then we applied a concrete finish to the walls to make them hard-wearing and easy to clean.”

It’s a really fun room, and the bars are even bent near the pole to look as if the children had pulled them apart.

The loft space was already in place, and the family uses it as a guest room and games area. At the back is a quiet nook for meditation.

These plans illustrate the layout of the two top floors.