Hard craft: period house refurbishment by Daniel Hopwood

This London townhouse is testament to the skill of the many craftspeople working in Britain, and more of us should make use of them, urges interior architect Daniel Hopwood

By Noah Dugall
Interior architect Daniel Hopwood prefers to use natural, sustainable materials

It's who's in a designer's contacts book that's almost as important as their vision...and it could explain why interior architect Daniel Hopwood has such a successful practice. He prefers to design furniture for his projects and champions British craftspeople to make pieces. The sitting room of this London project has an engineered FSC European oak floor, some antiques, and lighting from Porta Romana. Hopwood designed the sofas, which are made in the UK and upholstered in a mohair fabric, and the console table, made from light Cumbrian slate on an iron frame. The wallpaper is Cole & Son.

'I do feel my profession has taken a far more environmental approach over the past decade or so,' says Daniel Hopwood, designer of many a beautiful interior for his residential clients. 'It's the natural thing to do, to consider where materials come from, how they're made, how long they will last, can they be recycled,' says Hopwood. 'And for me, I like to use materials sourced in the UK, if possible - such as Cumbrian slate - and I like my furniture designs to be made by British craftspeople.'

We all have different priorities, and for Hopwood, longevity and not designing with materials that could end up in landfill are driving forces. 'This project was good because the owners wanted a home for the long term, a house in which they want to bring up their children. So they weren't buying it with a view to moving on in five years' time. The previous owners had been in the house for some 30 years, and the new owners plan to do the same. So durability and timelessness were key words when we were working on the design,' says Hopwood.


The husband's room...of course..the big telly gives it away..Pony skin wallpaper by Elitis.



The dining room has a stained oak Saarinen oval table and chairs upholstered in red Spinneybeck leat
Painted wood kitchen by Plain English
Splendid bespoke mirror-backed drinks cabinet by Hopwood



The house underwent a major structural refurbishment, and has been well insulated and fitted with an energy efficient heating system and LED lighting. But Hopwood also took advice from the National Trust's sustainability people on certain issues, particularly relating to window treatments. 'If you live in a period house and the windows are a bit rattly, buy curtains for them. Forget Roman blinds or shutters, the best way to keep heat in a room is to have curtains and to close them every night. And we had curtains made for this property, which is a classic Regency house.'

Flooring for the ground floor is a mix of FSC engineered European oak and porcelain tiles. 'I have come round in favour of porcelain tiles. They can be made to look like any stone you want...limestone or marble.. and you're not contributing to the environmental problems caused by quarrying, especially for rarer stones. I'm so glad to have moved away from the whole limestone thing that everyone was crazy about in the '80s and '90s. And porcelain tiles are so hard-wearing and don't get damaged by spills. They make sense on every level,' says Hopwood.

While many people are sniffy about MDF, Hopwood, who trained as an architect before deciding to concentrate on interiors, does specify it for the frames for some of his storage units and bookcases. 'I use only the formaldehyde-free MDF and this can be recycled. I think it makes more sense to use MDF, which is made from waste wood, rather than chopping down more trees. I use veneers of real woods, such as walnut, to cover the frames.'


The main bedroom has Elitis wallpaper, copper woven curtain fabric by Dominique Kieffer for Rubelli.
Hopwood designed this lovely wall-hung lacquered vanity unit with a slate top
es, the husband wanted a feminine bathroom..no just kidding. Roll top bath from Water Monopoly
Glass walls with silver gilding (verre eglomisé). Embroidered wallpaper by Claire Coles
His.. modern shower room with textured wall tiles and Cumbrian slate floor
Modern dressing room

The kitchen was designed by Plain English and is a classic painted wood kitchen with the latest appliances. 

Among the many craftspeople who worked with Hopwood on this project are Claire Coles, who made the trailing red rose embroidered wallpaper in the unashamedly feminine wife's bathroom. 'Claire's work is very intricate and beautiful,' says Hopwood.

He also required the considerable upholstery skills of Aiveen Daly, who worked on the black, mirror-lined cocktail cabinet, which would be worthy of The Great Gatsby. 

'This piece is rather fabulous and I'm glad drinks cabinets are coming back into favour! A lot of different craftspeople worked on it - it's the result of carpentry, upholstery, lacquering, glazing...' The silver handles on the doors are from Joseph Giles - Hopwood likes this company for its high quality ironmongery.

Hopwood's has one confession to make. The red leather on the chairs in the dining room is not made in the UK. 'Ok, it's from the US manufacturer Spinneybeck. I know, I know.. but I haven't found any other company that has the colours Spinneybeck has. I do talk to UK leather companies and I say, yes, but your colours...but they haven't come up with the right ones yet and when they do, I'll use them.'

Designer and clients are not surprisingly delighted with the finished house. 'What I would stress is the skill of British craftspeople, who made so much of the furniture and decorative pieces,' says Hopwood.