A Look Around This Scandi-Inspired London Home

For this London property, designer Anna Hewitson was tasked with creating a family home that paid homage to the owners’ Scandinavian roots, while at the same time being playful and interesting. The result is a light and airy space that doesn’t feel overly minimalistic or sparse – Anna tells us how she did it…

The Property

Originally, the house was in a pretty bad state – definitely not ‘liveable', it needed a full renovation. There was an existing partial basement with reduced head height and the plan was to dig a full basement with a contemporary rear extension, to convert the loft, add a ground floor rear extension, and completely re-configure the interior layout. Basically, we had to start from scratch! I took on the project in February 2019 and it took about a year and a half to complete – mainly due to Covid-19 delays and various planning issues.
The house is owned by a young couple with three small children. Therefore, everything needed careful planning to ensure it functioned well as a family home while adding character, quirky details and a sense of playfulness. The mother is from Norway and her Scandinavian roots definitely come across in the feel of the home. She injected a lot of her own thoughts and ideas, and was keen to create a family house that didn’t feel too ‘done’ or stuffy. The clients wanted everything to feel quite contemporary, with a particular emphasis on interesting finishes and details. We didn’t use that much pattern, but they weren’t afraid to be bold or use colour where it was appropriate. The clients aren’t the sort of people who take themselves too seriously, something that’s reflected in the interior design. 

We went back and forth with the layout, particularly when it came to the stairs and how we could retain the original structure while marrying it with a more contemporary basement staircase. Also, the unusual double-height void, which allows you to see up to the first floor from the ground-floor entrance, is quite a statement for an Edwardian townhouse. The architects, Sean & Stephen, were instrumental in coming up with quirky design features like this. They’d previously worked on a project called ‘House with a Slide’ which really appealed to the owners’ sense of playfulness and their desire to create something unconventional and fun. 
I’m still helping the clients source additional pieces of furniture – it’s ever evolving! A lot of the finishes and details are repeated throughout the house. For example, the wood floor, the fluting, the tongue and groove – these details ensure the house has a flow and sense of consistency, but each area still has its own quirky style. For instance, the clients reinstated a traditional stained-glass front door, but they added a tiger in a section of the glass – you wouldn’t notice it at first glance, but their son loves tigers, so it’s a personal touch.

The Hallway

In the double-height void, the stairs look like they’re floating and are very sculptural. The clients were keen to retain some of the original features and the challenge was how to marry these with the more contemporary additions and details. We had planned on installing full-height panelling in the hallway, but we took it out, opting instead for a dado rail as it was really tricky to add that much detail with the void. We went back and forth with the cornice and how to apply it. In the end, we discarded the hallway cornice but re-instated a decorative cornice in the living room.
The sisal stair covering came from Crucial Trading and the hallway wall lights are from CTO Lighting. Everything is painted in Paint & Paper Library Slate III and the flooring is from Dinesen – it’s solid douglas fir, stained with a white oil. The same floor runs throughout the house, apart from the basement, which is polished concrete, and the bathrooms. The wide and extra-long planks feel so solid and contemporary; it’s very light too, so it evokes a larger sense of space.

The Kitchen & Living Space

The kitchen, made by Blakes London, was a labour of love. The clients were very particular as to how it would function, the storage it would have and, of course, the overall design. We initially looked at a more conventional shaker detail for the units, but eventually went for a flatter, slimmer style to make it more unique and contemporary. My clients loved the fluted look – seen on the dresser unit with the glass and on the island with the wood – that we had to match as closely as possible to the floor.
The walls are in Paint & Paper Library ‘Slate III’, the kitchen units in Paint & Paper ‘Blanket’, with the larder unit in Farrow & Ball 'Studio Green' finished with a chunky 50mm Bianco Eclipsia worktop. The handles are from Armac Martin and the pendant lights are from Bert Frank
In the living room, we kept the original mantelpiece but added a fluted lining to echo the fluted details in the kitchen. We painted this the same colour as the walls, Slate III, to make it feel lighter and more modern. I designed the applied panelling on the walls and sourced a new decorative cornice to define the space and add a bit of ‘weight’. The clients loved the sideboard by Alfred Newall, and the chair, which came from Arlo & Jacob and is covered in Christopher Farr fabric.

The Basement Level

The polished concrete floor was something the client selected very early on, and it’s quite an industrial feature. We wanted to soften it with tongue and groove panelling on the side of the stairs and incorporate some of the Dinesen wood floor (seen on the stair spindles) to match the wood floor on the upper floors.
I designed all of the joinery throughout the house. The boot room is located at the base of the stairs leading up to the front of the house – it’s an area where the kids can come in and throw off their coats and shoes. So, we wanted some open storage, somewhere to sit and some closed storage so it didn’t look too messy.
The kitchenette in the basement family room extends out to the garden, which is on two levels. We wanted to make more of a feature of this rear extension, so we designed a ‘fin-like’ ceiling to add a bit of interest to the space and makes it feel less boxy. We went with a natural clay plaster finish on the walls from a great company called Clayworks. The gentle off-white tone gives the room some texture and warmth and works really beautifully with the concrete floor. 

The details in the basement are more contemporary compared to the upper floors, with shadow gaps around the skirting and architraves resulting in clean, contemporary lines. The terrazzo worktop was from Diespeker & Co and on the other side of the room, there’s some built-in joinery with a projector and lots of storage space for toys. The sofa was the clients’ own which we re-used. We debated about getting something new, but with young kids they decided to wait.
There’s a small guest room down here where we wanted to create some interest and character, so we brought the panelling into this room at half height and painted it in Farrow & Ball ‘Railings’, which feels really cosy. We injected a bit of colour on the window blinds (just out of shot) which are a pink-y red. The bed is from Pinch and bedside tables are from Chelsea Textiles.
In the en-suite bathroom, we added Hex Tiles from Mandarin Stone and the brass taps and fixtures really pop against the blue. The concrete floor runs all the way through, so everything flows.

The Main Bedroom & En-Suite

The client wanted this to be a cosy, warm and inviting space with soft colours and natural, textured fabrics. The bed is from Robert Langford; the bedcover is from Once Milano, with Christopher Farr woven fabric on the cushion. The wall lights from Hector Finch; the bedside tables are from Chelsea Textiles; the daybed is from Susie Atkinson covered in Fermoie fabric; the walls are painted in ‘Elephant’s Breath’ by Farrow & Ball; and the wool curtains from Stereo. We added the panelling in here to add a bit of interest. There are two separate dressing rooms – one for him (leading into the bathroom) and one for her off the main bedroom. They took quite a while to detail – the clients were extremely particular and precise, but the layout worked really well in the end.
For the en-suite, we looked at so many layout options. It proved to be quite a tricky space to plan, especially with the very large window. We repeated the fluted detail on the bespoke vanity unit which was based on a design the client had found on Pinterest. We added brass details to the drawers and a custom built-in storage cabinet above. The wall lights and bath are from Drummonds with taps from The Watermark Collection.

The Study

This room sits next to the main bedroom on the first floor. It’s quite masculine and we designed all of the fitted joinery, which was painted in Paint & Paper ‘Squid Ink’. The rug is from Sinclair Till, the sofa from Arlo & Jacob, the wall lights above the desk are from Vaughan and the wall lights beside the sofa are from Rose Uniacke. There’s a large TV in here and subwoofer speaker; it’s a bit of a man cave! But it’s a very useful space, especially seeing as the clients both work. By being set away from the family areas, it makes it nice and quiet. 

The Kids’ Bedroom & Bathroom

We really wanted this bedroom to feel playful. We painted the whole of the lower section in Paint & Paper Library ‘Parasol’ with the upper section in Farrow & Ball 'Slipper Satin'. I designed the built-in bunk beds and added tongue and groove panelling to the back wall. The wall lights are from Made.com.
The family bathroom is probably the biggest room on this floor, which is quite unusual, but it feels really spacious and allowed for a separate walk-in shower, bath and generous double vanity unit. We wanted to make this room quite fun by using pops of colour. The vanity is from Ham Interiors, painted in the vibrant Farrow & Ball 'Charlotte's Lock’. The yellow wall lights are from Old School Electric, the pink shower tiles are from Mandarin Stone and the pattered floor tiles are from Bert & May. Carrera marble on the bath top matches the marble on the vanity, and the taps are all from Crosswater in a brushed brass finish.

The Garden

This is quite an unusual space. The clients were keen to use ‘board marked’ concrete on the rear extension, which has quite an edgy feel, softened by the wood imprint. The pink railing was inspired by a theatre in King’s Cross. Lots of sampling later, the architects managed to find the perfect tone – it works so well against the grey and green of the garden.

Visit AnnaHewitsonDesign.com
Photography Credit Malcom Menzies

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