Built in 2014, Herringbone House was the first major residential project by esteemed architectural designers Chan + Eayrs. Located on a quiet residential street in between Dalston and De Beauvoir, the three-bedroom house represents a striking approach to residential design, incorporating many of the hallmarks that have earned the duo worldwide recognition. The plan creates a series of interlocking living areas configured between two private courtyards at the front and rear, while the façade gives the house its name, formed of herringbone brick courses in a striking gable and courtyard wall.
Zoe Chan and Merlin Eayrs studied at Cambridge University and the Architectural Association. Their practice combines their experience in offices like Atmos and dRMM, with whom Eayrs collaborated on the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale, with a commercial sensibility. The studio develops sites using a design-led approach to create bold, light-filled contemporary living spaces.
Herringbone House sits on a peaceful residential street on the border of Islington and Hackney, on a quiet terrace of Victorian houses. The street is also home to a railway tavern and the small Gothic church of St Jude & St Paul’s. Tucked away from Kingsland Road, the house has been neatly arranged within a wedge-shaped plot that lies opposite a small park.
The south-facing main façade is made up of brick courses laid in a herringbone pattern, running in opposing directions to create a beautiful textural effect. The house is made up of two volumes: A gable-ended volume that lies at the street-facing front of the plan, and a rear rectangular volume. These join into one space as the site narrows towards the rear. The light shade of the brickwork defines the two volumes and frames the picture windows, setting the house firmly apart from its neighbours.
Walled courtyards at either end of the house invite natural light and fresh air into the space, which was partially inspired by inward-looking Chinese courtyard house typologies or Siheyuan. Large glazed openings flood the central living area with light, enhanced by the palette of limed wood, matte white marble and pearl-coloured brick. The open living space is wonderfully bright and opens directly to the courtyard via full-height bi-fold doors; storage can be found in the open shelving along one wall. There is a WC adjacent.
The living room flows seamlessly into the kitchen, where full-height built-in cupboards line one wall and storage cabinetry lines the other. The rear wall of the kitchen has been finished in white tiles, complementing the neutral palette elsewhere, and the worktops, cabinetry and appliances are a mixture of white Corian and stainless steel. The current owners have a dining area arranged centrally, which is illuminated by light that enters through doors that open to the rear courtyard.
A cantilevered staircase ascends to the first floor and the three bedrooms therein. A skylight allows in copious amounts of natural light, which streams down through the plan and brightens the whole house. The main bedroom has a pitched roof, with an inset roof light that invites sunshine in. The en suite has been finished with a sleek palette of white wall tiles, marble floors and timber cabinetry. Smart double sinks in marble sit atop, providing a handsome focal point. The other two bedrooms are also wonderfully bright, with built-in wardrobes, and use the same minimal palette as elsewhere; there is also a WC on this level.
The house is arranged between courtyards at the front and rear. The sizeable front courtyard is bounded by a timber fence and a herringbone brick wall. It has plenty of space for seating and is the perfect spot for sunny alfresco dinners. The rear courtyard also lends itself well to entertaining – the current owners have a BBQ set up there – and is a quiet, secluded spot.
The house lies a few minutes from Dalston and its plethora of bars, restaurants and pubs, including Furanxo, The Dusty Knuckle, Brilliant Corners and E5 Bakehouse. Nearby Ridley Road Market is considered by many to be the beating heart of Dalston’s community. It has run every Monday to Saturday since the 1880s and is home to over 150 stalls offering fresh produce from around the world. Green space can be found at nearby Hackney Downs, London Fields and Clissold Park.
Herringbone House is also within easy reach of the independent shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs of Stoke Newington and Newington Green; Esters and Jolene are particular neighbourhood favourites. Much-loved Church Street is home to The Spence Bakery, Whole Foods and The Good Egg, as well as many other independent businesses.
Dalston Junction and Kingsland stations are a short walk away, providing transport links on the east/west and southbound branches of the London Overground. Buses run regularly to London Bridge and the City from nearby Kingsland Road.