A rambling family homestead in the Cape Province of South Africa provided inspiration for the owner of this terraced house in London, when he set about turning it into his own home away from home. An air of history pervades the property, with plenty of Dutch colonial influences, as seen in the swooping shapes that embellish the mirrors in the formal sitting room.
Justin van Breda
‘Nothing has changed there for hundreds of years,’ the owner says of his childhood home. ‘We still sit around the mahogany table to eat barbecues using 19th-century silver and we sleep in beds made up with antique linen.’ This feel is reflected in the mixture of new and old pieces in his London home.
The formal sitting room in the London house was originally a huddle of dark parlours but, with the walls knocked through, the entire upper ground floor has become a spacious environment for entertaining and conversation. A casually propped mirror thows light into the room and reflects an artist’s proof of Warhol’s screen print of the Queen (the owner’s grandmother was a confirmed Anglophile).
The house strikes a careful balance between modernisation and conservation. The owner, himself an interior designer, lived in the property for a year before he undertook the renovation. He felt it was essential to ‘listen’ to the building in order to understand the ‘flaws’ of the original 1840s design.
In the basement, a warren of dingy rooms has been removed and the new, open space extended to create a light-filled kitchen, dining room and living area. ‘Friends said I should stick a glass box on the back, but I refused,’ says the owner. ‘I didn’t want a pimple sprouting out from the house.’
There are echoes of the owner’s family farm everywhere, from the linen curtains fluttering in the breeze to the ornamental antlers adorning the basement living room mantelpiece. And antiques abound, including an evocative collection of silver cups and trinkets, and a plinth made of African stinkwood, that really lives up to its name, says the owner.
The design for the galley kitchen is based on a scribbled drawing made by the owner on a napkin over supper one evening. The result is a simple run of cabinets beneath rows of long shelving that hold everyday cooking implements alongside favourite display pieces.
English collection, Martin Moore & Company
In rebuilding the bathroom at the back of the house, the original windows and cornicing were conserved in keeping with the owner’s belief that the original fabric of a building should be respected.
Bullet wall lights
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