An elegant and handsome 21st-century listed house in London

What began as the renovation of a London home where the owner could display and live with his art collection has become an all-absorbing, exquisite work of art in its own right.

During the 18th century, gentlemen of means built houses that encapsulated their wealth and taste. Renaissance paintings, lugged back from Grand Tours of the Continent, adorned their saloons where Italian craftsmen perched on ladders to perfect the crispest of stuccowork.

Lavish, hand-woven silks festooned walls. Graceful furniture, lighting and flooring were fashioned from costly materials using cutting-edge techniques. This statement of cultural intent extended to the landscaped gardens dotted with temples and follies: symbols of their owner’s status. Fast forward to 2013, to a similarly ambitious project.

dulwich home

Image credits: Alicia Taylor

The setting this time is a tranquil London street rather than a sprawling country estate. But the house, wide, handsome and 18th century, has been restored and transformed by its owner, with an energy and imagination worthy of those Enlightenment entrepreneurs. Bespoke, that much-abused word, has real currency in this home where every object – hand-painted wallpaper, exquisite lighting and furniture – has been specially made to exacting standards.

EXTERIOR

The listed house, built in 1785, was sympathetically extended at the back to include a larger kitchen and a terrace on the first floor, where new Portland Stone stairs link ground to floor to the garden.

In summer, the garden is transformed in to a party venue under specially-made marquees where hundreds of guests meander, Gatsby-style, quaffing Champagne. Not from ordinary high street glasses mind you, but hand-blown flutes. ‘We tested six different glasses with maker Michael Ruh: the bubbles react differently in each style, so it was important to find the ideal shape,’ says the owner, sounding every inch the 21st-century patron of the arts.

dulwich home

Image credits: Alicia Taylor

See: An urban retreat in London, owned and designed by Louise Bradley

LIVING ROOM

Concealed smart lighting in the ceiling allows the sitting room to be transformed into a home cinema by night for vintage film viewings.

dulwich home

Chairs, Beaufort Dining chairs £1,956.00 each, Mckinnon and Harris, 0207 349 9085, mckinnonharris.com. For a similar ottoman, The Sofa & Chair Company, 0208993 4415, thesofaandchair.co.uk.

DINING ROOM

In keeping with the 18th-century spirit of the house, everything – from the wall coverings to mirror – was commissioned for the dining room.

dulwich home

Wallcovering, Askew panels on custom Apple Green Williamsburg, De Gournay, £631 per panel, 020 7352 9988, degournaycom. Bespoke mirror designed by John Carpenter for Thorp, 020 7235 7808, thorp.co.uk. Bespoke silver animals by Patrick Mavros, 020 7052 0001, patrickmavros.com.

KITCHEN

In the lower-ground floor of the house, the kitchen was extended to add a small informal dining area overlooking the 360 foot-long garden.

dulwich home

Pendant light, large Tole shade with frosted glass diffuser in nickel Finish, £2,800, Charles Edwards, 0207 736 8490, charlesdedwards.com.

See: Bold and decorative London townhouse, designed by Studio Indigo

dulwich home

Image credits: Alicia Taylor

HOME OFFICE

In the first-floor study, computer and printer are cleverly housed in a custom-made desk so that modernity does not intrude in to the classical setting.

dulwich home

Overhead light Apollonaire large, £860.00 ex vat, CTO Lighting, For a similar poster, try Antikbar, antikbar.co.uk.

ENTRANCE HALL

The dividing wall between hall and former garage was removed to make a suitably spacious entrance within the 18th-century building.

dulwich home

Lantern, made to order at Thorp, 0207235 7808, thorp.co.uk. Rug, made to order at Van Der Hurd Studio, info@vanderhurd.co.uk, vanderhurd.co.uk.

ENTRANCE HALL

Bold antiques and neutral walls were chosen to highlight the owner’s collection of rare vintage posters, each chosen for its artistic merit.

dulwich home

Find similar Agostini wall sconces at 1st Dibs, 1stdibs.com. For a similar poster, try Antikbar, antikbar.co.uk. All frames, made bespoke, John Jones. Lamps on console, Men in Bronze, Porta Romana, £570 each. For a similar Maison Jansen 1950s console, try Charles Burnand, 0845 4676868, charlesburnand.com.

GUEST BEDROOM

Tired schemes of blue and green were replaced with neutral tones and natural textures to offset the owner’s art collection.

listed house

Custom-made pieces such as the bronze wall lights were made by Thorp. For a similar wallpaper try Cole & Son, 020 7376 4628, cole-and-son.com.

GUEST BEDROOM

The owner is always on the prowl for new artists’ work, and artworks like this faux Caravaggio by Matthew Stone, and the Bone Sculpture by Moss Bittner, have all played their part in inspiring the design of the house.

listed house

Cushion made from Claremont Allessandro, £278.40, 020 7581 9575, claremontfurnishing.com. For a similar Jacques Adnet lamp, try Lucy Johnson, lucy-johnson.com.

MAIN BEDROOM

Complementing the 18th-century architecture of the house, specially commissioned hand-painted papers were chosen as a bold backdrop for a mix of new and 1940s designer antiques.

listed house

Wall covering De Gournay, custom blue Portobello on custom-blue Williamsburg, from £631 per panel, De Gournay, Find a similar screen at Gregg Baker Asian Art, 020 7221 3533, japanesescreens.com.

BATHROOM 

This contemporary bath has a sculptural line that perfectly reflects the house’s ethos. 

listed house

Image credits: Alicia Taylor

The homeowner, a precociously successful software developer with aesthetic leanings, cheerfully describes himself as ‘opinionated, difficult and obsessed with detail’. But he met his match in Philippa Thorp, a similarly single-minded interior designer who admits that she ‘never goes to trade shows or follows trends…I suppose the way I work is a process of osmosis; I absorb ideas and influences from different sources: travel, books, galleries.’ Most importantly, ‘no two projects are alike for me; each one is about the individual’, she muses as the owner laughingly interjects; ‘Philippa understands that I like my toys’. At this point they swivel round to look at the pair of giant black speakers, looming over the otherwise decorous drawing room. ‘I call them the Daleks,’ says Philippa with a long-suffering smile.

Photography/ Alice Taylor

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