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This family home embraces the beauty of the less-is-more interiors ethos. But Christmas is the time of year when the interior designer homeowner is happy to make an exception. ‘It’s not the season to go minimalist. I love using bold colours and plenty of gold and silver,’ she says.
‘I start thinking about how I would like to decorate the house and the table several months in advance. Throughout the year, I collect special candles, stationery, and decorations.’
The Edwardian terrace, that interior designer Claudia Ludwig (opens in new tab) shares with her husband David and their three young children, did not always make such a ready backdrop for the festivities. When the couple found the property in 2013, it had been poorly converted into a series of bedsits – complete with coin-operated electricity meters.
‘We loved the house for its generous width and its setting. But we knew that aside from the front façade and the original staircase, we’d need to start again,’ explains Claudia.
‘The pipes were rotten, the window frames had disintegrated and there was a pungent smell of decay.’ Alongside their architects, the couple worked to completely reconfigure the space. Expanding the rear with a steel-framed extension, adding a basement and a loft. Reworking the layout to turn three former bedrooms into a first-floor suite, while giving over the second floor to the children.
At the foot of the staircase, they uncovered detailed fretwork under multiple layers of paint and plywood, restoring it with a lime-washed finish. The stained-glass front door panels were remade by an Italian glass artist. In a playful riff on encaustic flooring, Claudia opted for geometric tiling in the entrance hall for its modern trompe l’oeil effect.
A contemporary pendant by Bocci follows the line of the staircase from the loft to the basement, uniting every storey.
‘Be guided by the architecture and history of the house. Preserve and restore original features,' advises Claudia. 'But don’t be afraid to alter a building to make it work for modern day living.'
The front door is painted in Manor House Grey exterior eggshell from Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab).
In the spirit of Claudia’s ethos to combine classic and contemporary, the couple preserved Edwardian architectural elements where they could. Claudia reinstated the ceiling rose, cornicing and mantelpiece in this room. ‘It’s probably the most traditionally decorated space in the house, inspired by our desire for a working fire,’ she says.
When it comes to the Christmas mantel decor, Claudia likes to use fresh pine or spruce cuttings.
Storage is key in this family home. There is joinery in practically every room to house books, toys, games, coats, shoes and laundry. ‘It’s the only way to let every scheme breathe,’ says Claudia.
The kitchen-diner is the first room you enter from the hallway and it’s such a surprisingly large light-filled space, thanks to the extension that was designed by Ambigram Architects (opens in new tab). 'Two delicately woven globe pendants anchor this largely open-plan space. ‘I like to inject colour through artwork and foliage,’ says Claudia.
The walls are painted in Skimming Stone estate emulsion by Farrow & Ball.
A treasured collection of Royal Worcester dinnerware is always part of the festive celebrations, as is a Christmas table centrepiece idea.
Claudia mixes it up with vintage wine glasses paired with coloured water tumblers on a white linen cloth.
At Christmas, the family pulls out the stops when it comes to Christmas tree trends. ‘In keeping with my upbringing in Basel, Christmas Eve is all about lighting the wax candles on the tree and revealing it to the children in its full glory. With all the gifts from angel Christkindl arranged beneath,’ she says.
‘We sing carols, read the Christmas story, open presents then move on to supper. On Christmas Day, we start all over again!’
‘We weren’t in a rush to furnish this house,’ says Claudia. As a result, the house contains a pared-back mix of inherited or found pieces coupled with design classics that the couple have collected slowly over the years.
‘We focused on key pieces that would last a lifetime.’ In the main bedroom, she chose the Febo bed and bedside tables from Chaplins with the Quadra floor lamps from Go Modern.
‘This room was created from two spaces - now it is filled with light,’ says Claudia, who complemented the proportions with simple, white fittings from Victoria & Albert.
The Dechirer floor and wall tiles are by Patricia Urquiola for Mutina at the Tile Expert. A white egg-shaped bath adds a serene note to this simple scheme.
Feature originally by Emma J Page.
Rhoda Parry is the Editorial Director of Ideal Home and its sister titles, 25 Beautiful Homes and Style at Home. She is also Editorial Director for Gardeningetc, Amateur Gardening and Easy Gardens. Rhoda is a highly experienced editor and journalist and has worked on many women's lifestyle media brands throughout her career. For the last 20 years, she has specialised in homes, interiors and gardens. A storyteller at heart, Rhoda is passionate about championing, crafting and creating exciting written and visual content for digital, print and experiential audiences.
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