In conversation with Stephen from Nash

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Rob – “So, what would you say your design style is, in your property?” 

Stephen – “Here, eclectic I’d say, with a bit of a mid-century overtone on everything. I’m quite a fan of everything being quite clean, this is why the big space is white and concrete. You know, I’m quite into stuff being quite functional. That’s because of the style of the front of the house being a proper red brick cottage, so at the front of the property we’ve maintained quite a bit of the traditional elements; the original stairs, the darker colours in the hallway, the more sort of sumptuous living room, which isn’t necessarily my style, but lends itself to the space perfectly with the bay window and such.  

“But yes, the styling of the house in general, I’d say is a bit of a mix. The bedrooms are again all quite clean and modern, we’ve got the nice white floorboards; I’m big on character and honesty, so that’s why upstairs we’ve kept all the original exposed floorboards, just painted them white. But furniture wise, quite eclectic I’d say. I obviously love my mid-century stuff, which a lot of was handed down from my grandma and nan. But I love it anyway, even if they weren’t heirloom pieces, I’d have mid-century stuff in – I just love it. I’ve always loved mid-century stuff, it’s so well made, so clean, these things are 60/70 years old and still are absolutely fantastic.”  

The mixture of eclectic mid-century furniture in the more modern parts of Nash

Rob – “They’re having a bit of a time in the light again right now aren’t they”  

Stephen – “Yeah, for sure! There is definitely a bit of a comeback for mid-century furniture at the moment. But again, it’s just because it’s so well made and well designed. So yes, there’s probably more mid-century furniture than anything else in the house, but we’ve chosen things that I think all go really well together. We’ve got a super modern Danish low-slung sofa with the Samsung framed TV, which is again super modern and then we’ve got the big old traditional log burner to complement them. It’s a bit of a challenge getting everything to work, but if I do say so myself, it’s all well-chosen.” [laughter] 

The Danish low-slung sofa and the eye-catching Samsung framed TV

Rob – “It all flows really well also…”  

Rob – “What are your biggest influences in design? Not just this property, but anything you have designed in general?”  

Stephen – “That’s a really big question…almost everything and anyone. I don’t necessarily have massive amounts of favourite designers and architects. However, I do read every interior design magazine that’s published; every architecture magazine that’s published. I have subscriptions to everything, which is why the house is full of them and why my wife hates me [laughter]. I love coffee table books, if there’s a publication about design, I’ve got it and I’ve read it. So, even though I don’t necessarily have favourite people and designers, I read and look at literally everything I can. “ 

“But even coming back to my mum (as I’ve said off-camera) my mum was a massive influence. She was always taking me around furniture shops and decoration centres, making me help with Laura Ashley wallpaper choices. Mainly dragging me I guess, but I do think it played a big part and definitely comes across. You know, the fact that I understand how much people love their house and that a house has to feel comfortable, it has to feel nice, it’s got to have something you can show off and It’s got to feel homely for the kids. It’s got to have a bit of everything and I definitely picked that up from my mum. Overall, probably not the answer you were hoping for, but it really is a bit of everything.”  

“I’ll walk past a building I’ve never seen before in Hackney or Copenhagen and I’ll stand and look at it for ten minutes (my wife will get really annoyed and frustrated with how it takes me). But yeah, anything and everything can and does inspire me.” 

Stephen’s never-ending array of coffee table books

Rob – “What’s your favourite city architecturally wise?”  

Stephen – “Good question! There are definitely a few favourites, but if I had to pick one, probably Barcelona, just because there’s such a mixture of styles.” 

Rob – “I thought you might say that [laughter].” 

Stephen – “Yeah, Gaudi is obviously an absolute mad man and an incredible architect, but even the sort of more modern stuff, I love that too. But yeah, if I had to choose one, it would be Barcelona. Just because there is everything and anything you could ever want within three square miles – and it’s got a beach as well [laughter]!” 

“I can’t remember the name of the little place down by the beach with all the cobbled narrow streets; I was walking down there and it’s just crazy with all the fire escapes and some of the doors are half-height. I love it, it’s just beautiful, my wife and I genuinely got lost down there for half a day! Absolutely fell in love with that part of Barcelona and then the next day you’re up in Gaudi’s gardens and on the Ramblas. Ah, I just love it!”  

Rob – “It’s a very cool city isn’t it!”  

Stephen – “It really is. I actually thought I was going to say Copenhagen, but no, it has to be Barcelona.”  

Rob – “Yeah, Copenhagen is definitely on my list of places to go.”  

Stephen – “It’s wicked mate! I just loved it. I’m sure there are many places people would say are like it, but I loved how chilled it was.” 

Rob – “You know what, every one of my mates who has been, has said the same thing, so relaxed and that it’s actually their favourite city.”  

Stephen – “I’d say it’s my favourite city also. Architecturally wise, Barcelona, but a city as a whole, Copenhagen. We didn’t want to leave, so wicked, loved it so much. Also, the people are great, awesome people, awesome food! And from my side of things and my wife’s cause she obviously also cares about this stuff as well – the design, oh my god! Every single shop window is beautiful, everything is presented stunningly, everything is made beautifully. Ah, I just loved it!”  

Barcelone from Gaudi’s gardens and Copenhagen from the docks

Rob – “What’s your favourite area or element within the house?” 

Stephen – “I can’t lie, the kitchen is definitely up there. We spend all of our time in here. From a living perspective, rather than a shooting perspective, we have this beautiful front room that was designed to be our really cosy, chill space – we never use it! It’s because the kitchen is where it’s at.”  

“So, my wife or I will be cooking and without the sales pitch, we have this huge island and it’s just a really sociable space. We’ve had dinner parties here with 30, 40, 50 people and the entire party is around the island. This is where we live; in this space between the kitchen and the sofa area. This house doesn’t need to be anything more than the kitchen.”  

“But as I mentioned in the video, my favourite room in the house is the bathroom, just because it was so difficult to design and fit in. During the whole process of designing it, we were really worried that it just wasn’t going to work. When it was completed, again if I do say so myself, it far exceeded our expectations!” 

Stephen’s favourite areas in Nash, the kitchen and the bathroom

Rob – “It really does look incredible!”  

Rob – “So, what made you decide to become a shoot location? And did you design the house with that in mind?” 

Stephen – “No, I think a lot of it was happy accidents that lent itself to being, as far as I know, very good for shoots. In as much as I said with the kitchen and living room spaces, because it’s a cottage and not a Victorian terrace, it doesn’t have a long back, so it’s not narrow. It’s a really wide house and with the extension, it’s now also pretty long. It’s around 7 ½ odd metres wide and we essentially doubled everything in size with the extension.”  

“So going back to the original question, why did we decide to become a shoot location, aside from the size and design etc, I think it was actually a friend of ours who had his place as a shoot location. He had this ginormous place; I think called The Dairy, in Clapton and he did huge shoots for TV and film. Our intention was always to Airbnb this place out to try and recoup a bit of the money we spent on the extension. But when he came round, he saw the place and was like, ‘hey, you should do shoots.’ At first, knowing the size and grandeur of his place, we thought there was no chance we could get movies in here, but he opened our eyes to the fact that people do smaller shoots for editorials and advertorials. He put us in touch with you guys and we’ve never looked back.”  

The open-plan kitchen/ dining/ living room and the original living room at Nash

Rob – “Was 1st Option your first choice when you were looking to sign up?”  

Stephen – “For sure! Yeah, definitely. I can’t remember if it was my mate who put me in touch with you, or if he recommended shoots and we found you online, or on Instagram – I think I may have been originally searching on.” 

Rob – “You know what, we have an owner, Ed, who’s got Blackwood House round the corner from here. We were doing an interview with him around a month or so ago, and he was saying, you can sign up with all the smaller agencies, thinking they will make you more money, but you can actually end up losing money; they might double book you, or forget to tell you a shoot has been pulled and you can then end up missing potential shoots”  

Stephen – “Honestly, professional is a great business term, but you guys have been better than that. The whole team is amazing, lovely to work with, great at your jobs and just a joy in all aspects. Never had any dramas! If there’s ever a minor problem, it’s sorted immediately and always on hand for any questions. Just brilliant and that’s not a sales pitch [laughter].” 

Rob – “That’s what we like to hear.” 

Rob – “So moving on to my last question – what’s your craziest shoot story to date, or most interesting client you’ve had here?” 

Stephen – “To be honest, we don’t tend to stick around the house when clients are here, so we don’t necessarily have any crazy shoot stories, but we have seen our house in magazines and on Instagram etc. So, that’s been pretty cool to know that’s our house.”  

“But I do remember one time, I was sat here having a quiet night in with the wife, and I suddenly got about four messages from separate individual people. All four of them had gone to the premiere of a movie and all four of them sent me a picture of my house on the massive movie screen. It was an advert for the JUUL vaping company and there was just this random guy sitting on my sofa vaping. Was just quite funny that all four individual people were like ‘oh that’s Stephen’s house’. It was quite weird also to see it on the big screen.”  

The more modern parts of Nash, the dining room and the bedroom

“But, honestly other than that, we are never here for the shoots – there could be an array of celebrities wandering through our house on a daily basis and I wouldn’t have a clue [laughter].”  

Rob – “Do you just let them in and leave straight away?” 

Stephen – “Yeah, exactly that; let the teams in and run straight off. I’m sure you hear this from everyone, but I hope you hear this from clients, but we are so chilled about everything. On recces, whether clients know what they want to do, or turn up and they aren’t sure of where to put stuff or exactly what they’re going to do, I say the exact same thing to everyone – consider it your house till 6 pm. If I get back and things are roughly in the same place, that’s all I need.”  

“It’s funny because they often take photos and try to get everything back perfect, which is great, but because I’m OCD, it will never be perfect. So, these days I just say, put the stuff in the right room and I’ll take it from there.” [laughter] 

“But other than that, we couldn’t care less about what clients do while here, we could honestly have tap dancing elephants in here, as long as they’re paying us and don’t break the house, we’re golden [laughter].” 

Rob – “Amazing, Stephen thank you so much for your time – that’s it from us.”