Exotic Victorian Colors “Recast” This English House

open kitchen by studio ben allen

Photos Courtesy of Studio Ben Allen


October 20, 2022

Before being “recast,” the house was like any other. “It’s quite a humdrum Victorian street—there are hundreds like them in London,” architect Ben Allen says. The house’s residents, a retired couple, gave Studio Ben Allen free rein to experiment and renovate the house. Ben chose colored concrete as his weapon and proved it a beautiful, though uncommon medium to incorporate vibrance and create a feeling of solidity in a home.

The studio started with concrete as the structural and aesthetic foundation of the house. “There’s an inherent enjoyment to being inside of a building that has weight to it,” Ben says. “It feels solid, and it gives you a very strong sense of being protected.”

Clearly the design went in a very un-Victorian direction, so the studio tied it back together through exoticism. “The most interesting Victorian architecture has that eastern influence to it,” Ben says. The studio produced the concrete panels off-site and dyed them muted green and salmon colors, inspired by high Victorian exotic architecture. The dusty green recalls copper, and the reddish salmon reminds of terra-cotta brick, both preferred materials in Victorian architecture.

The concrete screen visible through the bathroom window and ornamentation on the staircase railing have a distinctly Middle Eastern feel. The bathroom, a focal point of the home, is inspired by Turkish baths. As a whole the house aims to balance concrete’s weight and solemnity with the joy of color and unexpected details.

salmon concrete kitchen counters studio ben allen ss09

Ben was hesitant about color at first. “The worry about colors is that they always date very quickly, which is why we try to find strong historic references,” he says.


A version of this article originally appeared in Sixtysix Issue 09 with the headline “House Recast.” Subscribe today.