Alexis Burke and her husband Adeel Akhtar live in a beautiful victorian conversion flat which dates back to the 1860's. It's in a little conservation area in Camberwell, a nook on the edge of Kennington and Walworth. The pair have lovingly restored the two storey flat from a rundown and pretty squalid space into a warm and colourful home filled with natural materials, big windows and lots of light. Alexis told us that in the 60s and 70s the estate was apparently the romping ground of the Richardson gang - South London’s version of the Krays, and Michael Caine attended the school at the end of the street.
TELL US ABOUT WHERE YOU LIVE
Adeel is an actor and I direct documentaries for television. Between jobs, we both have plenty of time to enjoy the neighbourhood. The Walworth road offers up quite a few hidden gems – including a great new Korean restaurant, an excellent chippy, an awesome 24-hour Turkish Supermarket and a traditional shoe shop run by a fella called ‘Fred the Shoe’. There’s a great community in our estate, which we should definitely get involved in more. We have ‘Tenants and Residents House’, where residents hold ‘grub club’ nights, kids art classes and yoga sessions. It feels quite special and rare.
WHEN DID YOU BUY THE FLAT AND WHAT STATE WAS IT IN WHEN YOU BOUGHT IT?
We bought the flat roughly 2 years ago and at the time it was a total wreck. There was an unfathomable number of people living here. The electrics were declared dangerous (on the point of a serious fire), there was excessive damp, cracked walls and sticky laminate floors throughout. It was a pretty daunting project. When the former residents left they left the place full of rubbish. So it was fairly depressing to arrive, but we kept looking at the street and telling ourselves it would be worth it.
WHAT WORK HAVE YOU DONE TO THE FLAT?
The flat was in a pretty bad way when we got here, so we had to pretty much start from scratch. We had a new kitchen built for us out of reclaimed wood and crates. We had a new bathroom fitted, fixed the windows, rewired and re-plumbed and sanded the floors…….It’s still a work in progress. We’re currently sorting out the garden – and we are working on making the downstairs as good as upstairs.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR HOME?
My favourite things about the flat are the big windows. We both sit and look out of them a lot when we’re supposed to be working. We got some blinds made for them using some Tamasyn Gambell fabrics. She’s an amazing designer with whom I went to primary school. I really love the patterns.
DESCRIBE YOUR INTERIOR DESIGN STYLE
I don’t really know how to describe our style. Adeel buys a lot of old wooden and leather objects and I seem to collect colourful things like Donna Wilson knitted cushions and bold rugs and throws. This is the result.
DO YOU COLLECT ANYTHING?
We have a collection of art works around our place made by family and friends, including my Dad (who is the most creative person I know) and my cousin George Raab, who does wonderful Canadian wilderness and landscape etchings. I have a particularly beautiful piece by him in my bedroom.
WHAT IS YOUR MOST TREASURED POSSESSION?
On our wedding day my cousin and dad found a broken rocking chair on the street and bought it to our house. We sanded it down a little, fixed it up and scratched our initials into the frame. It feels like something to treasure.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE SHOP?
There’s an amazing shop in Hastings called HG Hendy’s and Co which we visit when we go down to see our mate who lives down there. It mainly sells Victorian homeware. Adeel and I bought our very first item of furniture together there. It’s an old larder, which has a cool metal shopping list in the inside, a pull out table, a flour store and various little glass jars containing mystery powders.
IF YOU HAD A FREE DAY IN LONDON HOW WOULD YOU SPEND IT?
We’d probably wander down to the Southbank and walk along the river. That’s one of the good things about where we live, we can walk to Waterloo in no time. Alternatively we’d head to a film at the Curzon Cinema in Soho and then grab some Vietnamese food.