By Joanna Plant
There are many houses on the market today that are somewhat over-developed. Original details are often being stripped away in favour of a cleaner, more streamlined aesthetic. The trouble with this is that, along with the mouldings and original architecture, much of the personality of the house is lost in the process.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at this charming four-bedroom house in Kensington, on the market for £3.4mn (pictured below). In many ways it has been cleverly modernised, maximising light and space with an eye on modern living, but it could benefit from the re-introduction of some period features. I would establish a gentle colour scheme using relaxed linen fabrics and tonal paint colours to soften the rooms and help the house feel a great deal more airy and comfortable.
Use flattering lighting
The first thing to address is the lighting. Replacing the recessed spotlights with pendant lights and fitting a five-amp circuit will create a friendlier and more flattering quality of light. A dish light such as this one from Vaughan, hung over a table, is just the ticket.
Introduce architectural features
Changing the fireplace will alter the space for the better, simplifying the sitting room area and making it feel more elegant. This simple bolection chimneypiece from Jamb will sit happily in the room and provide a lovely focal point around which furniture can be arranged.
While I love large spaces for entertaining, a little separation here and there, even in relatively small houses, helps with acoustics and the inevitable migration of one’s belongings. I might think about creating a small library area in the middle part of the ground floor by placing a pair of bookcases, like these from Howe, either side of the entrance to the kitchen. Not only will this identify the specific areas, it will stretch the proportions upwards, making the ceiling feel higher and adding a little grandeur.
Invest in good furniture
Having supper surrounded by books can be very atmospheric and so I would suggest using a centre table that can be a place for keys and a vase of flowers during the day and used as a dining table in the evening. This painted centre table from Lorfords Antiques is not too heavy or serious and will sit very nicely in the space.
Elsewhere in the house, I would continue the theme by buying a few key pieces of antique furniture, such as this wonderfully comfortable sofa from Dean Antiques. It will add to the character of the house and make it a pleasure to return to each day.
Don’t overlook soft furnishings
The insulating effect of well-made curtains and blinds is not to be underestimated and we find that whenever we install a project, it is often the curtains that bring the most joy. Approaching the soft furnishings side of things can be a little daunting, but Volga Linen has a range of upholstery and curtaining fabric in a palette of useful colours and coordinating patterns. It also offers a making-up service and can organise your curtains, headboard, valance and cushions. Its ivory bed linen is the best there is and it will even make wonderfully old-fashioned eiderdowns — perfect for keeping warm at night.
Photography: Savills; Christopher Drake; John Hammond; Jonathan Bond Photography