The owners enlisted the help of an an architect and an interior designer friend to transform this run-down south-west London house into a spacious family home for themselves and their three children. They extended into the basement, loft and side return to create a space where they could live, work and entertain comfortably.
Once the building work was completed, the owners called on an interior designer who the father of the family had known all his life, since they had attended kindergarten together in their home town in Georgia, USA. ‘Initially we bounced ideas off her, then we asked her opinion on changes to the floor plan, and it evolved into taking on the project together,’ explains the mother of the family.
The designer’s brief was to create a comfortable home, with equal consideration given to practicality and style. Aesthetically, the owners wanted a fairly traditional look, but were happy to include modern touches.
‘It was quite a rare scenario in that we all have roots in the American South, but have lived a good portion of our lives in London,’ says the designer. ‘In my work I try to be mindful of the historical sense of place, but I do love to find ways of telling the owners’ story through their surroundings and to incorporate reminders of their heritage and life’s journey.’
Photographs of the owners’ wedding in South Carolina were a key inspiration for the decorative schemes. The butterfly print above the fireplace in the sitting room was bought from a shop near the hotel where the couple were married. Artwork plays an essential role in the décor, and much of it is by the artists who create the album covers for southern stalwarts the Dave Matthews Band.
This bright, relaxing space features warm grey tones rather than white to prevent it feeling stark. Banquette seating helps to maximise space in the dining area, while bi-folding doors open up the back of the room, bringing the outside in during the warmer months. A wire noticeboard provides a stylish place to display works of art by the owners' children.
Internal windows behind the sink allow extra light to flood into the hallway and enable the couple to keep an eye on the children in their play area downstairs. A kitchen island with breakfast bar helps to separate the cooking space from the living space and provides a place for guests to perch and chat while the couple prepares for dinner parties. Rich wood flooring balances the sleek, cool feel of the marble worktops.
Comfortable seating opposite the kitchen dining area provides an informal place for the family to relax. The antique bookcase was converted to house the television as well as wine glasses and fine china, while a plump buttoned ottoman was chosen as an alternative to a coffee table. The father of the family's love of industrial style shines through in the brass floor lamps.
An elegant 19th-century window-shaped mirror increases the sense of light and space in the open-plan dining and sitting room. Abstract wall art makes for a bold contrast with the more traditional dining room furniture and tableware, while a small-scale geometric print on the dining chair seat pads is a further nod to contemporary design.
The architect sited the staircase in the middle of the house to use as little floor space as possible. This has created a dedicated space on one side of the stairs where the children can play and draw. A silhouetted map of the USA on the wall behind the play table hints at the family's American origins.
The father's influence can be seen in the industrial-style furnishings and exposed brick of the family room and the mother's in the dark grey walls and geometric textile patterns. The tones are brought together in the large photograph of the Spanish moss tree, taken during the couple's wedding in South Carolina.
Vintage school lockers
Turner & Cox
References to the couple's past and present feature in the main bedroom, with monogrammed bed linen, a traditional American South design detail, and an old map of London on the wall above the bed. A palette of clean whites and soft, warm greys creates a restful atmosphere as befits a bedroom. Plantation shutters and a cane bed frame add a colonial feel.
Holly Johnson Antiques
A walk-in wardrobe with room for a dressing table separates the main bedroom from its adjoining bathroom. There are no doors between the wardrobe and the bedroom, allowing for a free-flowing, spacious feel. Bespoke units, including plenty of hanging, shelf and drawer space, keep the couple's clothes tidy and easily accessible.
Similar bespoke walk-in wardrobe
The French House
The design of the couple's bathroom was inspired by the bathroom in the hotel at Palmetto Bluff, Georgia, where they were married. Instead of a bath, it features a large, luxurious marble shower with seating. The basketweave floor tiles run seamlessly from the main part of the bathroom into the shower, making the room feel more spacious than it actually is.
'The nursery will be my study when our baby moves into a larger room, so I selected a wallpaper that I would want myself,' says the mother. 'We went for a blue geometric, adding accents of orange. As it happens, the baby seems to like the pattern very much.' Blue and orange are a perfect pairing as they are complementary colours, enhancing the vibrancy of one another's tones when used side by side.
The starting point for the chic monochrome décor in the guest bedroom was the hexagonal floor tiles in the adjoining bathroom. 'Our designer really helped with the whole process by saying that it can be one little thing that inspires an entire scheme,' say the owners. Plump cushions and a cosy throw ensure that guests are put up in comfort as well as style.
A bespoke washstand takes centre stage in the guest bathroom with plenty of drawers and shelving for visitors to store their toiletries during their stay. The monochrome palette lends the scheme a timeless look.
Every last detail has been considered, from the hotel-style bathrobe to the colour co-ordinated soap and moisturiser dispensers.