W hat is striking upon entering this stucco-fronted house in the heart of Chelsea is that there are very few right-angled piece of furniture in sight: the hallway console has a gently rounded marble top; the formal sitting room’s voluptuous sofas are teamed with equally shapely coffee tables and much of the bespoke cabinetry displays subtle curves.
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Irene Gunter of interior architecture firm Gunter & Co, the designer behind this extensive renovation, is a great advocate of curves.
‘They relate to the concept of biophilia; human beings respond much better to soft shapes rather than harsh lines and corners, so introducing rounded forms contributes to a feeling of comfort and belonging,’ she observes.
The homeowner, Snowy Li, who shares the house with her husband, Barry Wen, is equally enthusiastic. ‘The curves soften the rooms and give the schemes an almost art-deco feel,’ she notes.
Snowy and Barry are a young, dynamic Chinese couple who work as a fashion designer and entrepreneur respectively, and they travel extensively both for business and leisure.
Their global outlook informed the brief for this house.
‘We have stayed in a lot of wonderful hotels and these have really helped us to define what we want from a home,’ recounts Snowy.
She continues, ‘We know, for example, how important lighting is to us. We love soft, warm light and rooms that exude a sense of luxury.’
When Irene pressed the pair to define their notion of luxury, beautiful stones immediately came into the conversation. ‘Barry and I both grew up in Beijing where marbles are key; they always feature on the floors and in the kitchens,’ explains Snowy.
The couple particularly loved an unusual, patchwork-like Patagonia granite that Irene suggested, and this exotic stone plays a starring role as the splashback in the kitchen on the lower ground floor.
Snowy jokes that prior to the pandemic, their home was one of the most sociable houses in Chelsea.
‘Barry and I never used to cook much but with this wonderful kitchen we’ve experimented with every type of cuisine: Chinese, Brazilian, African, Italian and English,’ she enthuses, adding, ‘when you have such a beautiful space, you want to get your friends over to spend time in it.’
Eye-catching stones continue to weave a thread through the house, from matt white Palissandro marble for the sinuous base of the dining table to translucent alabaster for the table lamp in the master bedroom.
Snowy’s go-to interiors palette is predominantly pale but Irene encouraged her to embrace subtle touches of colour: gentle blues, greens, golds and pinks, complemented with accents of warm antiqued bronze.
The hues give energy to the rooms, enhancing the classic architecture that includes ornate cornicing and panelling – details Irene reinstated to give another layer of character to the spaces.
Even the shower in the master bathroom has a beautiful bowed glass screen, designed to echo the lines of the vanity unit on the opposite wall.
The entire first floor forms an indulgent master suite and here Snowy’s favourite room is the master bathroom. ‘I can simply stand and look at it for a few minutes every day, it is so dreamy,’ she says.
The scheme sees panels lined with cloud-patterned wallpaper by Fornasetti, complemented with oversized scallop-shaped sconces and a free-standing bath – perfectly curved, of course – that is centred on the window to enjoy views of the garden.