When the homeowners' children left home, the couple decided that instead of moving to a smaller house, they would stay put and modernise the place where they already lived. It would not be the first time they had taken on such a project: when they bought the property in the Seventies, it had been divided into five flats.
This time, with the help of Studio Indigo, they have dramatically yet sensitively transformed their grand Victorian house in London into a haven of rare beauty where they can enjoy a new chapter in their lives.
'Mike Fisher, creative director of Studio Indigo, showed us his houses in London and Cape Town, and we liked his style. He was also the only person who suggested putting the drawing room at the back of the house, overlooking the garden, which was an idea that my husband and I loved,' explains the owner.
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The couple had already extended the house at the back some twenty years ago, but the link between the old and the new had never felt fully resolved. A decision to remove a secondary staircase (which connected the original house with the extension) restored the sense of importance to the original staircase and to the entrance hall.
It also enabled the couple to reorganise the layout of the rooms and put the main living spaces at the back of the house, overlooking the garden. This created a better sense of cohesion between the old and new parts of the building.
‘We use this table all the time because the room gets so much light,’ says the owners of the elegant yet informal new space.
The chairs were designed to accompany the antique refectory table. Their daughter-in-law painted the large abstract work, while the decorative frieze above the picture rail was commissioned after they visited Florence. A painting by one of the Dutch masters, which the owner inherited from her father, is teamed with a table from her grandmother.
The pair of carved walnut doors are from the owners grandmother's house in Zurich. 'They are the most lovely colour and a very unusual feature for a London townhouse,’ she says.
Venetian polished plaster was applied to the walls to reflect light. Its butter colour provides a contrast to the dark metalwork of the original staircase.
This eclectic room is furnished with Chinese and Tibetan pieces that were collected by the owners mother. They are complemented by a bespoke headboard in ebonised wood and mirrored glass, designed by Studio Indigo and inspired by Chinese screens.
The modern design of the hourglass-shaped slipper bath is exaggerated by its proximity to traditional paintings and an ornate frame on mirrored glass.
Curtains in a fabric embroidered with delicate flowers are a highly suitable match for a pair of charming beds painted with foliage and bird motifs, which she inherited from her grandmother. 'I used to sleep in them when I stayed with her in Switzerland,' she says.
A mix of patterns adds a playful feel to this exuberant scheme. The headboard, designed by Studio Indigo, echoes a metal example in the couple's Cape Town house.
The double show enclosure, which was designed by Studio Indigo, gives the bathroom a standout sculptural element, while heavily veined Calacatta marble and a large-scale painting lend visual energy.
Photography/ David Lovatti