It’s fair to say that this is no ordinary home – from a temporary welding hub in the basement to a fully soundproofed music studio in the attic, it’s been through as many eyebrow-raising iterations in the last two decades as its dynamic, fun-loving owners.
These days, the stucco-fronted house, one of the world's best homes, which backs on to London’s Regent’s Canal, is a fully fledged family home but it has evolved in an unhurried and piecemeal manner.
Initially Guy Hills, founder of fabric specialist Dashing Tweeds and his wife, corporate lawyer Natasha Good, bought two apartments within the building. Over time, and as their family expanded, they acquired the top floor and recently reconfigured the whole space with the help of Guy’s brother Adam and sister-in-law Maria Speake, founders of architectural salvage firm Retrouvius.
Former fashion photographer turned self-labelled ‘modern-heritage tweed designer’, Guy is no stranger to left-field, relaxed interiors. ‘I actually commissioned Maria to design my very first live/work space more than 20 years ago,’ he says. ‘My brief was to create an urban beach house, so she knows that we enjoy an element of surprise.’
It’s just as well because there is something to delight the eye at every turn in this space, whether kitchen cabinetry repurposed from the National Museum of Scotland, 1950s sliding doors from a French hotel or a bathroom basin bookended by a pair of former jurors’ desks. ‘We’re not precious about our home, so pieces that already have a well-etched patina are ideal for us,’ says Guy.
Salvaged pieces co-exist happily with family heirlooms, while unexpected color pops easily rub shoulders with the unexpected. Hallway ideas include bright green painted joinery, an intensely striped stair runner, and taxidermy-inspired bird-laden wallpaper that sets a playful tone. ‘Maria has reworked these interiors for us several times over the years,’ says Guy.
Throughout the house, repurposed lighting adds impact. Among the kitchen ideas for creating an eclectic look is a pendant made from recycled Czech chemistry funnels wired and suspended from a flex in the kitchen, while the island is studded with upcycled etched-glass doors. All of the delicate glass brings a lovely elegance to the space.
‘We started out with a passion for saving things,’ says Maria who, along with husband Adam, unearths pieces from factories, schools, labs, former churches and government buildings, ‘but we quickly realised that we needed to establish a design arm if we wanted to repurpose efficiently. That said, my greatest pleasure is still blending found objects with existing items. I believe that’s what makes a vibrant interior.’
Oak-fronted drawers salvaged from a museum were combined with new joinery for a unique look in the kitchen. The vintage oak parquet flooring was laid in a smart ladder pattern.
Sustainable dining room ideas include a reclaimed dining table and dining chairs upholstered in salvaged leather, while a 1950s Italian glass chandelier adds a dash of glamor. The piano stool is upholstered in Dashing Tweeds fabric.
An informal living area and crafting room leads out to the garden. One of the living room ideas was to customise the doors with beautiful leaded glass.
The basement floor now houses an office space and a cocktail zone fitted with an onyx sink and a vintage shelf.
Home office ideas include vintage red leather folios, which add richness to the bookcase.
A cozy scheme has been evoked in the main bedroom. Bedroom ideas to enhance the homey feel include a tweed throw and shelves filled with books.
Bathroom ideas included using Sienna marble on the bespoke vanity and walls to evoke an art deco look.
‘I love that the geometry of the parquet relates to the weave of Guy’s tweed fabrics,’ says Maria.
In the children's bathroom, the time-worn feel of the zellige tiles and leather cupboard fronts, which were salvaged from the British Library, bring character to an otherwise practical space.
Interior design/ Retrouvius
Photography/ Paul Raeside/ Otto
Text/ Emma J Page
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Interiors have always been Vivienne's passion – from bold and bright to Scandi white. After studying at Leeds University, she worked at the Financial Times, before moving to Radio Times. She did an interior design course and then worked for Homes & Gardens, Country Living and House Beautiful. Vivienne’s always enjoyed reader homes and loves to spot a house she knows is perfect for a magazine (she has even knocked on the doors of houses with curb appeal!), so she became a houses editor, commissioning reader homes, writing features and styling and art directing photo shoots. She worked on Country Homes & Interiors for 15 years, before returning to Homes & Gardens as houses editor four years ago.
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