As a property developer, UK-based Pete Monaghan specializes in taking tired old houses—the unloved and the unlovely—and giving them a bold contemporary refresh, while celebrating every precious piece of their original character that remains. His own East London home, which he shares with his partner, Cherish Perez de Tagle, a film and television producer, is very much a case in point.

When the couple first viewed the space, back in 2017, “it was basically a case study on damp–every kind of damp and mold and really badly configured,” Pete says. But it helped that they both loved the area—“It has fantastic restaurants and cafes, the best-designed gym, great pubs, and a real feeling of space and tranquillity”—and that they could see the potential.

Home renovations are in his DNA, Pete says. “I grew up on building sites because my father has always done property improvements. When I was child, my parents bought a derelict house and we lived at the attic while they slowly did it up, I loved living around the action,” Pete says. When he and his father, Richard, took on a renovation project together, there was no turning back. The duo’s shared property company, Mon Projects, evolved organically and is based in East London’s thriving and creative borough of Hackney. “What I love about working on period properties is taking things that are old and tired, and refreshing them, while retaining their character.

“I was looking for a project that was just about terrible enough that it would allow me to improve it and I’d still be in pocket,” he says. Pete was also keen to find somewhere with the potential to create more space—whether in a loft or basement—and this apartment came with a fairly basic cellar on the lower ground floor. “The Victorians would have used it for cold storage and for coal—in fact there was still some in the coal hole,” remembers Pete, referring to the space on the street side where the coal man would regularly drop down a supply of this messy fuel. Stealing space from the basement during the course of the renovation, Pete managed to add two additional good-sized bedrooms and a beautiful bathroom, as well as a third-bedroom-cum-studio at the back of the house.

When it came to the furnishings, Pete and Cherish partnered with their favorite local vintage furniture dealer to curate the mix. “One day we got talking to Gennaro Leone, the owner of Spazio Leone, as he has a studio close to one of our regular coffee shops. We both love his sense of aesthetics, his passion, and his incredible knowledge of Italian design.” The  choice of vintage pieces was a no-brainer. “They compare so well to the price of something new, and they’re so much more interesting and unique. We didn’t want to live in a catalog-shopped home.”

Join us for a look, and see more at The Modern House.

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Above: In the living room, period features such as the marble fireplace and timber floorboards have survived and been restored to become focal points once again. “I wanted to protect and enhance the original elements, as much as I wanted to strip out the more recent additions, such as the LED ceiling lights and odd boxed-out alcoves.” At the heart of the room, a 1970s mirrored coffee table by Willy Rizzo for Cidue, sets the tone. Against the wall to the left of the fireplace sits a Farmer Series safari-style chair by Gerd Lange for Bofinger, while the pine Zig Zag chair to the right of the fireplace is in the manner of Dutch designer Gerrit Rietveld.

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Above:  The 9000 sectional sofa is by Tito Agnoli for Arflex. The 1980s Yang floor lamp was designed by Scottish designer Gary Morga for Bieffeplast, while the Post Modern ceramic jug on the mantlepiece is by Marco Zanini for Bitossi Italia.
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Above: A view into the small study that adjoins the living room;
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Above: The 1980s German Postmodern shelving unit is from Spazio Leone.
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Above: A 1970s Monk chair, by Afra and Tobia Scarpa for Molteni, is paired with a simple pine desk in the style of Dutch designer Ate van Apeldoorn. “This is one of the quietest rooms in the house, it was important to position the desk looking out of the window to enjoy the green canopy of trees outside.”  The 1970s Don table lamp by Ettore Sottsass for Stilnovo consists of a heavy emerald green cubic base, a white slanted rod and a striking adjustable white shade.

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Above:  It wasn’t possible to tint the stairs to match the polished concrete, because of the vertical risers, so Pete opted to create some visual interest by cutting into the concrete to expose the aggregate elements within the mix.
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Above: “When you take a few steps down from the upper ground floor, you are transported from old to new, traditional to modern.” The underfloor-heated poured concrete floor has been polished to a pleasingly soft sheen and creates a strong link to the garden beyond, where the same material is used. Floor-to-ceiling glazing and a slimline sliding door mean that the view of the garden and the greenery of the “borrowed landscape” beyond is as uninterrupted as possible.

The kitchen, above the studio, has been extended to double its size, with a concrete floor polished to just the right level of soft sheen and doors opening onto the courtyard garden beyond. Here the aesthetic is almost monastically simple, with custom-made cabinetry, pale stone worktops, and a back splash created using authentic Tadelakt, a traditional Moroccan material that Pete spent months mastering and which he also used in the bathroom, “If it’s not done properly, it can be problematic in the UK climate. I wanted to become an expert in applying it authentically, while ensuring that it performs properly in a wet environment. It creates a very clean and minimal aesthetic, because there is no tile ground required.”

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Above: In the dining area, a 1970s oval ash DS1 table by Charles Rennie Mackintosh for Cassina is teamed with a set leather Spaghetti 101 chairs by Giandomenico Belotti for Alias, above which hangs a 1970s ceiling light by the Castiglioni Brothers for Flos. In the garden, Pete opted for Siberian larch cladding, which will weather to a silvery finish, while the evergreen jasmine will grow to create a green wall effect, leading the up eye to the trees beyond.
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Above: A view of the extension from the exterior.
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Above: In the kitchen extension, the bespoke cabinetry, Caesarstone worktops, and Tadelakt back splash were all color-matched to the Farrow & Ball Slipper Satin paint that is used on all the walls, “to keep things consistent and serene.” Avoiding the visual clutter of wall cabinets, Pete opted for a simple open shelf that runs the length of the kitchen and is used to keep favorite pieces cl
ose at hand. Pete designed the cabinetry and had it handmade, with oak dovetail joints and German-made soft-close runners and hinges. “We chose the Bora downdraft hob because it does not require an overhead extractor, which helps the kitchen feel more minimal and calming,” he says.
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Above: A. petit inset sink allows for maximum counter space.
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Above: In the couple’s bedroom, an ultra-simple low-slung bed is flanked by a pair of solid timber side tables, sourced by Pete at a saw mill and inspired by the work of interior designer Rose Uniacke, while the 1970s Olympe lamps are by Harvey Guzzini for ED.“The neutral palette here contributes to the feeling of tranquility and the color-coordinated wall of bespoke joinery keeps a sense of calm coherence in the room.”

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Above: In the guest bedroom, a pair of 1960s Gatto Piccolo lamps by the Castiglioni Brothers for Flos sit on simple monolithic timber side tables. The impressive ceiling height sets the new lower ground level apart from many lower level conversions; “You can’t even touch the ceilings if you jump,” says Pete with a smile.
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Above:  In the hallway outside the bedrooms and bathroom, there is room for a laundry area, concealed by bespoke cabinetry. “For me, it makes so much more sense to have the laundry space close to the bedrooms, rather than in the kitchen, as is often the case in British homes.” The white-tinted polished concrete flooring continues here. It achieves almost monastic levels of calm thanks to the polished concrete floor and Tadelakt finishes around the shower and basin.
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Above: The studio was created by excavating a whole new space at the back of the building. It could serve as a spacious third bedroom but, for Pete and Cherish, it’s a studio space, both for making music (“I play my guitars here, the acoustics are great”) and for practicing yoga: “It’s our urban escape, with music and essential oils.” An ultra comfortable Fiandra sofa by Vico Magistretti for Cassina is used with the equally minimal Metafora coffee table by Massimo and Lella Vignelli for Casigliani, both 1970s Italian pieces.
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Above:  In the background, two sculptural vessels and a figurative sculpture, all from Spazio Leone, are displayed on simple white plinths, giving the studio a contemplative gallery-like atmosphere.

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