When you are dating someone you are in love and happy together. But then when you move in to the new place it’s time to choose the design for your family nest. And here is when the trouble begins – your spouce has completely different taste! Turned out this is common situation and solution is already found.
A collaboration between a couple with differing tastes, an interior architect and an interior designer, this five-storey town house in Notting Hill could have ended up being a project of two halves. But thanks to an open spirited approach to the coalescence of ideas, the result is a lesson in balance and harmonious contrasts. A graphic chevron rug in minty pastel sits against darkblue, ethnic-print curtains in the bedroom. Giant black-and-white stripes appear from nowhere in an otherwise muted kitchen spanning the lower-groundfloor kitchen. Dusky pink velvet cushions make an unexpected showing in a masculine media room. Yet there is no doubt that it works. It feels like the home of real people who have flair, and who also have their quirks. The mixologist who made it so is interior designer Suzy Hoodless, known for her mild eclecticism and smart monochrome backgrounds. ‘My aim,’ she says, ‘is that when I hand over a house, it is an extension of its owners’ personalities, and with this project we achieved that.’ Suzy worked closely with Johnny Holland of Hackett Holland architects, and both speak warmly of the partnership as a positive creative experience. ‘For many houses I act as creative director for the entire project, but in this case it was genuinely a joint effort,’ she says.
In the front sitting area, entered immediately from the entrance hallway, a set of full-height, glazed doors establish an elegant architectural mood reminiscent of the smart family houses across Europe. The result is a pleasant surprise, as the reception-floor layouts of Victorian town houses can be all too familiar. This is one of several clever, glazed elements that give Johnny’s conversion its particular allure. Another is the single, undivided interior window at the end of the entrance hall, which reveals a double-height bespoke lighting installation and gives a vertical vista over a ‘Rain Effect’ coffee table by Mint. It looks out on to the gorgeous little garden landscaped by Alasdair Cameron, with white cobblestones and slim, silver-birch trees and down to a sunken surrealist urban folly, featuring a stone mantelpiece that forms a miniature smoking yard at the lower-ground level.
The third transformative piece of glazing is the double-height grid of window panes that sits between the seating area and the garden; along with two sets of full-height french windows, it completely opens up the ground and first floors. All this window play gives a feeling of being at once in a London town house and a contemporary Parisian apartment. Johnny says they did indeed borrow from the French capital’s know-how in making the most of old buildings, using more pane and less frame.