The spaces we occupy to live and work in have a huge impact on how we feel, the ideas we have, the dynamics of our relationships, how we entertain and how we relax.
That's why we love an architecture or interiors tour. They give you a glimpse of how other creatives lived, especially in times before the Internet, and we always find ourselves leaving with new ideas.
After going on the Barbican Tour (three times!) earlier this summer and visiting Finn Juhl's house in Copenhagen, we started looking for other living spaces that were open for tours.
And who better to ask for recommendations than our friends at The Modern House, who often tour design-led homes across the UK. Luckily for us, they were kind enough to share what they've seen and have pulled together ten inspiring living spaces that are open to explore this summer, from mid-century modernist masterpieces to sculpture parks and galleries.
The tour begins with a personal favourite of ours - Ernö Goldfinger's 2 Willow Road in Hampstead. Enjoy!
- 2 WILLOW ROAD -
Location: Hampstead, London
Visit via: The National Trust
"2 Willow Road, completed in 1939, is a rare architectural gem. Not only is it one of the two modernist National Trust buildings, but it was designed by the pioneering architect Ernö Goldfinger for himself and his family.
Unlike his other particularly well-known building - the 1970s brutalist block Trellik Tower, 2 Willow Road – one of the three terraced homes he conceived here – is restrained and quite simply beautiful" - Holly, Head of Marketing at The Modern House.
Erno, Ursula and for years, all three generations of their family lived in No.2 (the middle of three homes in the building). We can see why they didn't fancy moving.
Their home has been left as if they walked out an hour before you arrived, and walking around the house, the tour guide explains their thinking for open plan living, Erno's meticulous level of detail and their careful considerations for spaces to suit working, entertaining and retreating.
2 Willow Road is also home to a very special collection of art, from early Henry Moore sculptures to works by Bridget Riley, Max Ernst and so many more.
- HENRY MOORE'S HOUSE -
Visit the Studios & Gardens via this website
“When we visited Henry Moore Studios & Gardens in Perry Green, Hertfordshire, last year as a team for our summer social, we fell in love with the spirit and soul of the place. Moore lived here with his wife, Irina, and used the outbuildings found around the grounds as his workshops.
The best bit, though, is the behemoth outdoor sculptures. It’s nothing short of a pleasure to see them right at home where Moore would have made them.” - Ruby, Senior Marketing Manager at The Modern House.
- KETTLE'S YARD -
Book a visit here
"Kettle’s Yard is the beautiful house-turned-gallery in Cambridge, formerly home to curator Jim Ede and his wife, Helen. His philosophy of paying as much attention to the curation of found objects – such as pebbles and shells – as paintings is one we are also in favour of. Among his collectables dotted around the space and garden are sculptures by the likes of Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth – thanks to his fruitful friendship with artists and like-minded creatives, he gathered a remarkable collection of art." - Ruby, Senior Marketing Manager at The Modern House.
- DAVID PARR HOUSE -
Book a visit here
“A trip to Cambridge is not complete, in our opinion, without a nose around David Parr House. The enchanting walls of this lovingly persevered terraced house is cast in hand-painted Arts and Crafts patterns by its namesake, the working-class artist who lived here between 1887 and 1927. He worked for the decorative practice F.R. Leach & Sons, while his home was his personal project that he painted for pleasure over the four decades he lived there. With rich colours, romantic florals and intricate motifs, David Parr House is a visual feast for the eyes." - Ollie, Sales Advisor at The Modern House.
- THE ISOKON -
Location: Belsize Park, North London
Visit the gallery
“The Isokon Building in north-west London was the first example of residential modernism in Britain. Its architect, Well Coates, was greatly inspired by Walter Gropius’ Bauhaus, designing radical communal living spaces that attracted artists and architects alike to the building. Alongside Gropius himself, who lived here when he fled Germany, it was also once home to Marcel Breuer and Agatha Christie. Today, you can learn all about its fascinating story at the Isokon Gallery, which sits on the building’s ground floor.” - Genevieve, Sales Advisor at The Modern House.
- TURN END -
Book a tour in advance, here.
- THE HOMEWOOD -
Visit via The National Trust
“Patrick Gwynne designed this remarkable modernist house in Esher for himself and his family in the 1930s. It was his forever home, where he lived until he died in 2003, and, as his friend and fellow architect Sir Denys Lasdun said, it was the ‘great love of Patrick’s life’. We can see why: its floor-to-ceiling windows, thoughtful built-in furniture and boxy architecture are just a handful of highlights of this house. It is, in fact, the second modernist National Trust house, along with the aforementioned 2 Willow Road.” - Holly, Head of Marketing at The Modern House.
- WALMER YARD -
Location: Notting Hill, London
Visit via the website
- COSMIC HOUSE -
Location: Holland Park, London
Book a tour via their website
“We’ve recently had the chance to visit the exceptional post-modernist building Cosmic House in Holland Park, west London – and can attest that it’s every bit as magical as its name. Stroll down Lansdowne Walk and there’ll be no prizes for pointing it out among its more conventional terraced house neighbours. The brainchild of Maggie and Charles Jencks, who designed it in collaboration with architect Terry Farrell in the 1970s, it's jam-packed with boundary-breaking ideas and visually arresting interiors. No two rooms are the same in any shape or form, each brimming with rich textures and kitsch decor.” - Holly, Head of Marketing at The Modern House.
- GREAT DIXTER -
Visit the house and gardens here.
“Great Dixter in Northiam, East Sussex, was the home of the late gardener Christopher Lloyd, so it will come as no surprise to learn that its Grade I-listed grounds are glorious. But the house is also well worth a nosy. Built by architect Edwin Lutyens in the early 1910s, it is the marriage of two existing historic houses from the 15th and 16th centuries to create one beautiful building with wooden beams, restored Grand halls and medieval features” - Genevieve, Appraisals Specialist at Inigo.
And so we conclude our UK tour of inspiring living spaces to visit this summer in the UK.
Of course, this list only just scratches the surface. If you know of somewhere you think should be on this guide, please let us know by sending us an email.
Image Credits to The Modern House, as well as Kettle's Yard, Great Dixter and The New York Times. Thank you.