Design should be low key, chic and understated, but rich in detail. So says the owner of this 19th-century worker’s cottage, a designer who applies this philosophy to everything he creates, from a range of affordable bathroom furniture to a red-carpet evening gown. The 1950s have inspired the changes to the house. It’s a design era that is infinitely user-friendly, he says. The circa 1958 curved chairs originally came from a Norwegian luxury cruise liner.
Vintage Scandinavian furniture
On the ground floor, interior walls came down and a small fireplace was removed to allow for the open hearth with its pebble gas fire. I’ve used a dash of red right through the house. I designed this red, laquered-wood shelf to double as a coffee table and seating for extra guests. The owner also designed and made the wooden relief on the chimney breast.
Pebble gas fire
In reworking the layout of the house, the owner was able to carve out a small cloakroom on the ground floor. Elsewhere, gone are the curves and arches beloved of the original builder and of the previous owner, and in their place the rooms have clean, contemporary lines. I wanted to create the feeling of one big, open-plan space downstairs.
Ben de Lisi Room Concepts at Abacus Direct
In the guest bedroom, the luxurious silk curtains and bed quilt are framed by alcove shelves laden with a lifetime’s collection of black ceramics and glass. The main focal point, however, is the extraordinary hand-embroidered and painted silk wall covering on the chimney breast.
Origami Platinum wallpaper
Upstairs, a loft extension has taken the house from two to three storeys and houses the main bedroom and shower room. I put in wall-to-ceiling glass panels to replace the windows on every floor at the back of the house. The stairs have been kept open to the bedroom for maximum light and the 1950s wall-mounted glass star came from an antiques shop in London’s King’s Road.
Similar wall stars
At The Ark
Piled with pillows and cushions, the owner is more likely to relax on his bed and watch television up here than in the living room. My respite from juggling so much in life is to rest here in the evenings with the remote control and the dogs at my feet, he says.
Similar mirror doors
KKS Fitted Bedrooms
From the shower room, the owner has a crow’s nest view of the surrounding neighbourhood through the plate glass panel fitted into the back wall. Visitors sometimes wonder a little about it, but the steam soon obscures the glass so it is perfectly private.
I wanted the garden to be really easy to maintain, says the owner. I especially like the mirrored window set into the wall and the way the shed is concealed as a summerhouse.
Garden design and Jumbo Pot
The Chelsea Gardener