Interiors: Stephen's pied à terrace

By Clare Nolan
Last updated at 8:01 PM on 22nd May 2010

With serene, light-filled spaces and a verdant roof terrace, garden designer Stephen Woodhams has fused indoor and outdoor living
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An apartment in a former Transport for 30s-built depot in Kennington, South London. Stephen Woodhams, 45, bought the flat, where he lives and works, two years ago as a basic shell on the inside and a blank canvas on the exterior so that he could ‘work his magic’ on it. It is filled with natural light and has a large roof terrace (approx 100 square metres) that catches the sun throughout the day.

To expand upon a basic conversion undertaken by the original developers. Stephen worked with his builders to knock out two walls, re-floor the inside and outside spaces, resurface the kitchen, install air-conditioning and construct the bathrooms and terrace. It took eight weeks to finish after three months of intensive planning.

The nub of the idea for the apartment and terrace is a photograph by Anthony Goicolea called ‘Greenhouse’, which hangs in Stephen’s living area. ‘The picture is in greys, whites and aquas. I’ve never designed a house in these shades before, but I find them so uplifting and easy to live with,’ says Stephen.

Stephen Woodhams co-designed the Smallbone Alfresco Kitchen for the Chelsea Flower Show, which opens on Tuesday (for more details, tel: 0845 260 5000, His new range of indoor and outdoor furniture and accessories is available from (tel: 020 7735 3798)


  • First, get a structural engineer to check the terrace and advise you on maximum weights and positions for heavy pots.
  • Plant pots with both lightweight drainage material and compost.
  • Play around with the design and aim to create an outdoor living area, laid out as you would an interior. Be realistic about scaling up or down to suit the available space.
  • Create a vista – a scene that draws the eye from inside to out. The view from my apartment through the double doors on to the terrace takes your eye to the coffee table (with built-in fireplace) and on to the seating area and potted trees.
  • Think about irrigation and lighting at the start. Each of the large pots on my terrace has built-in irrigation and an uplighter.
  • Choose trees that have an open habit, which allows the wind to blow easily through the leaves (such as silver birch, eucalyptus and olive). This reduces the risk of scorching or the trees being blown over.

 Report Sarah Stewart Smith