There are times when life gets complicated. And most of us would agree that the arrival of twins might not be the best moment to embark on a top-to-toe redesign of your home. But the owners of this property, who already had two children under five, aren’t the type to get fazed by such matters. ‘Hmmm, there was a bit of dust,’ they say, ‘but it was fine, really.’
The couple originally bought this striking terrace in north-west London to give them more space after deciding to try for another child. Structurally, the building was pretty sorted – an interior designer had lived there for 15 years and taken on the major changes. But the decor looked a little worn and the pair wanted to put their own stamp on things.
They had been living in the property for 18 months and hardly done a thing so, even though the twins were just six months old, they decided to go for it. ‘At first, we were going to take on the refurb ourselves,’ they say, ‘but then we realised the house was just too big and we were too busy, so we spent a fair bit of time looking through magazines, deciding what we liked. Then we came across an interior designer’s work in Livingetc and we knew we’d found the right person.’
The designer asked them lots of questions about what they liked and how they live, prepared moodboards and spent time sourcing one-offs - even designing key pieces, such as the marble-topped table in the couple's dining room. 'She made us think laterally. Even though we knew what we liked and she took that on board, she encouraged us to consider things we'd never have thought about, such as the 20th-century pendant in the living room. Because of the period of the house, we probably would have gone for the more obvious choice of a chandelier. Our designer has made this house look so individual and we love that.'
The living area is far from conventional. For starters, there's a lot in it. This cabinet features a stuffed owl and collection of vintage soda siphons while, throughout the space, trinkets are scattered on various surfaces between the pick 'n' mix of contemporary and aged furniture, and it all somehow just works. Even the art choices are out-there. Antique Victorian portraits sit opposite vintage surveyors' tools and ethnic art in the dining room, while a specially commissioned painting by artist David Caines dominates the living area. An eclectic mix of accessories means there's something eye-catching at every turn.
The lower-ground level is where everyone hangs out as a family to play, cook and eat, while the living room is somewhere the owners relax after the children have gone to bed. 'The room has the best combination of calmness and quirkiness, everything in it makes me happy. I love the fact that this room is so unique. It's got our stamp on it - all the things that are special to us.'
The kitchen sits at one end of the open-plan family area and serves as the gathering spot for everyone. 'We spend a lot of time here with the children. It's definitely the hub of the house.' Even though the kitchen is a practical area, the owners wanted it to look stylish and the colours, art and furnishings all contribute.
A large window maximises natural light and brightens up the space. The owners love collecting interesting one-off items, which make a great talking point in a dining room. 'I love the colours in this room. It's such a peaceful space.'
The children's bedroom wall features blackboard paint, which is ideal for the owners' creative kids. Rustic wooden food boxes are a great idea for quirky shelves. Brightly coloured accessories, such as the yellow chair and blanket, prevent the blackboard from being too dark and overpowering.