Christmas was looming and the owner, then pregnant with her second child, was looking for a bigger house in west London for her young family. ‘I grew up in the area and having lived all over London when I worked in the City, it felt like the right time to come home,’ she says.
However, her last two house purchases had fallen through and she was beginning to feel rather downhearted about the whole endeavour. When the owner arrived for a viewing of this tall, semi-detached Dutch gable house the estate agents had just started taking photographs, but she knew straightaway they were wasting their time. ‘’As soon as I walked through the door, it had me,’ she says.
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As the house had previously been rented out, it was somewhat unloved. ‘There was a sea of magnolia and beige, with rather horrible laminate flooring. All very practical, I’m sure, but it looked very bland,’ says the owner, who saw through this to the fundamental elegance of the property. ‘It was a beautiful house, but it needed some personality. I fell in love with what it could become for our family. Creating a wonderful, happy home for my children to grow up in is the most important thing in the world, and this felt like the right place to do that,’ she says.
Although the owner was generally happy with the layout of the house, the dark and gloomy lower-ground floor needed a rethink. Aided by family friend and interior designer Annie Rice, she created an open-plan kitchen with a living room and dining area, plus a playroom and laundry room.
An antique chimney piece creates a fine focal point, while ages mirror tiles on either side enhance the soft light of the space.
‘We had great fun designing this room,’ says the owner. ‘I am mad about pattern and the wallpaper makes me smile every time I walk through the door.’
At the back of the house, a smaller reception room has been turned into a library. Accents of red and green, with the colourful book spines, help to brighten the scheme without detracting from its relaxing ambience.
‘We spend an enormous amount of time in this part of the house and the joy of it is that lots of things can happen at once in the same space: meals can be cooked, homework can be done at the island, the puppy can charge around the garden and the little ones can build pirate camps.’ The owner recycled the existing handmade cabinetry by repainting the units, installing new worktops and adding an island.
In this space, which links the kitchen with the garden, glass doors and a roof lantern give superlative levels of light. The owner exchanged the dated conservatory for an orangery with bifold glass doors that open up to the redesigned rear garden. ‘The view from the kitchen during the summer is like a wonderful flower painting,’ remarks the owner.
‘I’ve always wanted a four-poster bed and this room is a heavenly place to retreat to,’ says the owner. The heavy curtains, trimmed in soft pink velvet, lend a cosseting feel.
The delicately textured rose-coloured wallpaper makes a pleasing foil for a trio of framed antique lithographs.
Plenty of built-in storage helps to maintain order and allows the cheerful rug and wall-mounted plates to take centre stage.
Painting the back of the fitted bookcases bright pink, injects striking colour into an otherwise delicate scheme.
The only other structural change was to the front of the house. Originally, there was just a single entrance accessed by steps. ‘It did not work with two children, a buggy and a puppy,’ says the owner, who put in a new door that opens straight into the kitchen.
Photography/ Mark Bolton
Interior designer/ Annie Rice