A model makeover: How couple transformed mouse-infested council flat with a little
Fri 19 Jul 2013
South London home used for film shoots and commercials up for sale.
Georgian townhouse has been put on the market for 1.1million You may not recognise its handsome Georgian facade but it's likely you have taken a look inside Edwina Dvorak's South London house before.The interior of the Clapham property, which is for sale at 1.1million, has been used as a set for numerous advertisements and fashion shoots.
Edwina's vast kitchen on the lower ground floor has been given a particularly large amount of screen time culinary superstar Jamie Oliver, MasterChef winner Dean Edwards and award-winning London restaurant The River Caf are among those who have recently used the space to film commercials to promote cookbooks.
It boasts tiles from the Underground and Mick Jagger's old kitchen table. It also has cabinets made from Second World War Spitfires' fuselages. This two-bedroom home has been put on the market for 335,000.
When they are not strutting down the catwalk or on photoshoots in exotic locations, what do models do in their spare time?
If you believe the gossip columns, you might imagine the majority live it up at parties and on luxury yachts. But male model Gerard Smith proves there are exceptions. When he has his downtime, he likes nothing better than donning his overalls and indulging in his passion for DIY. Gerard, 39 who has worked with Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Bono in a 20-year career that has seen him modelling for Calvin Klein and Gucci has applied these handyman skills and a talent for spotting classic furniture to turn his bijou flat in Clapham, South London, into a retro palace. The fact that he and his partner, Mei-an Collier, 32, an art director at clothes store White Stuff, both trained at art college and obviously have aesthetic sensibilities helped transform the property. When they bought it in 2010, it was a mouse-infested dump, but the couple recognised the ex-council homes potential.
It is on the third floor of Grant House, a 1930s estate built to provide accommodation for auxiliary staff such as cleaners and engineers working at the Houses of Parliament. It was later acquired by the London Borough of Lambeth to provide council housing. Now about 40 per cent of the properties are privately owned. The flats surround a large well-tended communal garden, have off-street private parking for only 30 a year, and included in a modest service charge of 1,200 is a permanent supply of hot water. Gerard and Mei-ans flat has two bedrooms and is split over two floors. It has the advantage of a large balcony space.
The couple paid 210,000 for it and have now put it on the market for 335,000 as they plan to move out of inner London to buy a bigger property to raise a family. Gerard spent about 60,000 on the flat meaning the couple will make a 65,000 profit but this pales into insignificance when you consider the imagination, not to mention the hard graft, he has put in.
His most eye-catching addition is the former London Underground station tiling in the kitchen/diner and bathroom. The blue tiles in the kitchen once adorned the walls at Edgware Road station, while the white ones are from Northern line stations.
But the work probably most far removed from his day job was laying the teak flooring, which he acquired on eBay. Its laid on tar so it was a very messy job, he recalls.
Other retro items also found on eBay are a 1960s G-Plan wooden cabinet in the sitting room, glass bricks, a cast-iron bathtub, a Smeg fridge, chunky cast-iron radiators and a kitchen table that once belonged to Mick Jagger. I bought it from an old manager of the Stones. I had to go to Somerset to pick it up. In fact possibly the hardest work involved was getting the stuff I had to go all over the country, says Gerard. Perhaps the most interesting additions, however, are the kitchen cabinets, which have been crafted out of the fuselages of Second World War Spitfires.
They come from a firm called English Rose, but I bought them on eBay. At the end of the war, English Rose bought up a whole lot of planes no longer in use and turned them into cabinets. They come as units and fit together like Meccano. Gerard has generously decided to leave his eBay acquisitions for the new owners.
The couple will miss living in such a central location when they move the flat is a short walk from Clapham Common and Clapham Old Town, while to the north, the Nine Elms area is in the process of regeneration thanks to the imminent arrival of the US Embassy. With his modelling career not as busy as it once was, Gerard sees his future in property development.
Tom Crabtree, of Marsh & Parsons, Clapham, said: The property has been converted to become an amazing space. This reflects Clapham, which has become one of the most interesting and vibrant of places to live south of the river.