1,000 Square Feet on a Budget: An Artist’s Loft in North London

You can do a lot with a little paint and elbow grease, and Malgorzata Bany and Tycjan Knut’s north London rental is proof. It’s a 1,000-square-foot live/work loft in a converted warehouse that Malgorzata, a sculptor, and Tycjan, a painter and art dealer, customized with recycled birch ply kitchen counters, painted Ikea cabinets, a hand-built dividing wall, and a DIY Donald Judd–like sofa. Malgorzata gave us the details on how they pulled it all together.

Photography courtesy of The Modern House.

the kitchen walls are painted with farrow & ball strong white in estate emu 14
Above: The kitchen walls are painted with Farrow & Ball Strong White in Estate Emulsion. The countertop is birch ply recycled from Malgorzata’s former studio worktop that they had cut to fit and finished with wax. Malgorzata and Tycjan built the lower cabinets from painted MDF ordered to size and added a linen curtain to cover the existing plumbing. The open shelves are Ikea Ekby Hemnes Shelves and Ekby Valter Brackets and to the right are Ikea Ivar Cabinets (a 12-inch-deep cabinet stacked on a 20-inch), all painted Strong White to match.

the living room is painted in a shade of white hand mixed by the couple to  15
Above: The living room is painted in a shade of white hand-mixed by the couple to “neutralize the red light from the facing brick building,” Malgorzata says. “We combined a couple of paints from tester pots using warm and cool tones and added a few drops of acrylic paint from Tycjan’s studio. I took it to a home improvement store and asked to put my sample under the scanner to create a bespoke color.” The sofa is made from the base of a sofa bed—something generic bought by Tycjan’s sister online. Malgorzata ordered foam cut to size and covered it with heavy duck cotton she sewed herself. The Donald Judd–inspired box is made from birch ply coated with Osmo Snow White Wood Wax Finish. To keep everything looking uniform, Malgorzata made curtains from the same fabric used for the sofa. The slim graphic work on the wall is by a friend, artist Sarah Pettitt.

malgorzata and tycjan use the bedrooms as separate work studios and converted t 16
Above: Malgorzata and Tycjan use the bedrooms as separate work studios and converted the large central space into two rooms—a living room and bedroom—with a hand-built dividing screen. It’s made of a pine frame painted in Farrow & Ball Shaded White and finished with double-sided fabric panels stapled to the frame. The screen is wedged between the floor and ceiling with screws that keep it in place. “We didn’t want to put up a standard plasterboard partition wall, and the curtain we were using before never felt substantial enough,” Malgorzata says. The inspiration for the divider “came from Japanese interiors; from a practical point of view, it was simply the best solution.” The raw wood cabinets, as before, are Ivar Pine Cabinet from Ikea. The Windsor chair is vintage, from Ercol, that they stripped and painted matte black.