The immaculate interiors of this double-fronted, mid-19th-century London townhouse are a far cry from the tired family home that its owners bought five years ago. The transformation is no complete, but it required clear heads and brave hearts as everything but the four exterior walls had to be stripped away to reconfigure the internal space, and the new rooms painstakingly decorated.
The journey began long before so much as a skip could be brought on site. Planning applications numbering well into double figures were submitted for the creation of an additional basement level, and the installation of a car-lift and skylights. Such was the intricacy of the project that, when the builders were finally able to move in and start work, the couple found themselves having to make decisions on an almost hourly basis. With busy working lives to manage at the same time, the couple decided to appoint interior designer Rebecca Hughes to help them.
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The essentially neutral palette sets a formal tone here with character provided by the scattering of books and artworks. The sofa gently divides the space, allowing for a more relaxed seating area beyond with a chaise longue, which is beautifully complemented by a bespoke bookcase.
One of the benefits of the new staircase was that the homeowners were able to feature a spacious landing on each floor, ideal for displaying favourite pieces of art.
Striking pieces, from the eye-catching mid-century Italian walnut cabinet to the contemporary console table and decorative mirror, introduce a note of understated glamour.
‘Mixing and matching styles of art and periods of furniture creates a sense of depth and makes a scheme look more organic,’ says interior designer Rebecca Hughes. ‘Bianca Smith's paintings are incredibly versatile as they are strong but also quite neutral.’
The interior designer worked with the homeowners to tailor the design of the 14 solid glass drop lights, which are suspended from a ceiling canopy by brass chains.
The designer opted for a minimalist look, where the irregular veining of the book-matched marble splashback provides a pleasing contrast to the linear style elsewhere.
One end of the kitchen is home to a more relaxed space. ‘It needed a splash of colour, so the designer suggested the Paul Smith rug,’ says the owner.
Layering shades of grey and different textures has created a sense of calm and peace. However, as the interior designer explains, ‘It is important to introduce bolder elements, such as the distinctive pendant light, to bring definition.’
‘I much prefer showers,’ says the owner, ‘so it was the architect who persuaded me to add the bath. ‘He was adamant that a main bathroom needs one because it provides a focal point for the room and future owners of the house might require it.’
The mid-century-style ceiling light with glass shades in smoky hues was only possible to hang because of the room's amazing ceiling height. Adding interest to the far wall is a collection of antique Spanish mirrors. ‘I especially like them for their uneven forms – each one is different,’ says the designer.
The homeowner chose the wall-hung vanity unit for its contemporary good looks and practical design, with handy shelving and shaver sockets hidden in the cabinetry.
Eschewing wallpaper and plain paint, the designer suggested that a graffiti artist ‘tag’ the main wall with elements that particularly resonate with the couple's teenage son.
Photography/ Richard Powers