Daley, married to American screenwritter/producer Dustin Lance Black, wanted to ensure the space fit their combined needs with welcoming atomsphere and bags of character.
“Most properties we viewed looked the same,” laments Black, known as Lance, who won an Oscar for the 2008 movie Milk, a biopic about US gay activist Harvey Milk, played by Sean Penn. “Their interiors looked identical, as if the developers had sourced all the kitchen and bathroom fittings from one supplier. For me, a home needs to be somewhere I can be creative in. It has to have a certain spirit.”
The couple have now found a triplex apartment off Southwark Bridge Road, converted from a hop processing plant.
“Some people we know came and suggested we fill in brickholes and other things and I looked at them as if they were mad. In LA, you just can’t fake these textures — very little there predates the Fifties. But it was obvious also that a lot of imagination and creativity had gone into this place,” stated Black
The apartment occupies the top three floors of the building, which has been radically but sensitively reconfigured by Coupdeville Architects in collaboration with Brandler London, a firm that builds bespoke reclaimed wood fixtures, from wardrobes to treehouses, using the kind of weathered timber that Daley and Black love. By the time the two moved in a year ago, “85 per cent of the work had been done to their flat”, says lead architect Pravin Muthiah.
Crucially, each floor’s height was lowered from an average 10ft 4in to 8ft 5in — “still a generous height,” says Muthiah — which helped to compensate for the new storey. That said, the ground-floor level had to be marginally raised by just over two feet since, being a couple of hundred yards from the Thames, the house is in a flood-risk area. This precaution didn’t apply to the basement — a live-work unit.
Daley’s favourite space is the kitchen, where he and Black frequently entertain: “I love cooking my mum’s sausage casserole recipe, for example, or baking cheesecake for friends. We made Christmas dinner here for 17 guests.”
The interiors achieve the lived-in feel the couple dreamed of. A key part of Muthiah’s redesign was to recycle beams from the demolished sloping roof. Parts of these were installed in the guest bedroom ceiling, while others were redeployed as joinery and windowsills. As for the elegant sash windows, says Muthiah: “It would have been cheaper to remove them but we decided to keep the originals, with all their dents. We restored their beading, lead weights and cords, then reinstated them.”
DMZ loves how the flat has been reconfigured, with an added story and roof terrace. The hot tub thereon boasts a stunning view of the English capital and is sure to be a great investment by Olympian Daley.