A day out in London is a rare treat for me. The Livingetc House tours has become my yearly indulgence, or should I say design pilgrimage? There is something magical about traveling down south to visit other people’s homes. Home is such a private space and I always have the vague sensation of being transported to a parallel world, unquestionably beautiful and intimate.
This year there were six houses, all walking distance from each other, which was a definite improvement from past years when they were spread far and wide and I took home several blisters as souvenirs. Here is a list of my favourite spaces, my pick of rooms that inspired me the most.
Favourite kitchen: House D
House D was a green dream, where the contemporary blended with vintage and every space felt alive. As you know, I like a bit of colour, and I loved how this space blended with the garden to create one big space. Brass is everywhere at the moment but this is the first time I’ve seen it on cupboard doors, from Bert and May. The home, owned by stylist and designer Michelle Kelly, felt inspiring, original and elegant with dark wood chevron throughout.
Favourite lounge: House F
This home, Casa Botelho (designed by Joao Botelho) was architectural perfection. The downstairs lounge and kitchen oozed sophistication and glamour and I couldn’t stop staring at the chandeliers. I particularly loved the way this house amongst others had painted the ceilings the same colour as the walls, giving a more cohesive look balanced with symmetry and plenty of space. I shall be trying this on my next project.
Favourite snug: House A
So many homes have two lounges nowadays so I feel a “snug” must be in a category of its own. This room in the stunning Georgian home of Graz Darken (A.K.A the founder of Slices London) featured the most enormous sofa. And those brick tiles... yes, I stroked them, sorry. One trend I kept spotting on the tour was the clever juxtaposition of luxe surfaces like marble or wallpaper against rougher textures like brick and concrete.
Graz’s second snug was gorgeous too. Love the layering.
Favourite bathroom: House B
House B was a Scandi Cool space, owned by IDC member Stephen Nash of ALL & NXTHING. The whole house was a clever mix of natural, industrial surfaces and plush velvets within a soothing colour palette. This bathroom was the perfect example: marble floor tiles against concrete walls, harsh steel balanced by hanging plants and industrial copper against plush soft towels. Truly inspiring. When do I move in? More about this house later.
Favourite dining space: House E
This whimsical Victorian house embraced the dark grey colour palette mostly. The antiques dealer owner, Matt Goss used this to offset all his quirky finds. The kitchen featured this old curiosity cabinet set off by the bright bouquet of flowers. There were many amazing dining spaces on the tour but this one felt original and quirky.
Best outdoor space: House C
As you would expect, many of the outdoor spaces were as immaculate as the interiors. However house C, owned by events director Eloise Markwell-Butler, had not one but two outdoor spaces. This courtyard left me gasping; the basement floor with its bar and dining space had a Mediterranean vibe and was just
Favourite bedrooms: I had to pick two...
Both are green, which for me has to be the perfect colour to end the day. The first, house F above, is the perfect hotel-style guest bedroom, flawless with a colossal bed.
The second, in house D, is a fantastic modern mix of styles with a bed upholstered in fabulous Svenskt Tenn fabric. Which is your favourite? I’d happily sleep in either.
And finally... Favourite hallway: House B
I had to end back at house B again. Stephen Nash’s home was proclaimed “the best” by many of the house tourists this year. His use of materials was the most innovative, plus his prolific plant life would thrill even the most critical instagram plantaholic. The hallway featured a simple stripe of Setting Plaster by Farrow & Ball which ran over both walls and doors. I’m fond of a stripe or two in my own home and this cute nook had everyone cooing.
It fascinates me that we all go on these house tours believing our ideal home would be an abode much bigger than our own with expensive furniture and flooring, yet our favourite spaces are often the smaller spaces with pared-down, simple belongings. Our homes offer an opportunity to calm and soothe our souls at the end of a long hard day and I think this simplicity, rather than the “latest trend” is the main take-home message from this year’s house tours for me. A pilgrimage indeed.
House A: Slices London and Emma Gurner.
House B: Brooke Copp-Barton.
House C: Livingetc
House D: Livingetc and Cheshire Interior Design
House E: Cheshire Interior Design
House F: Born + Bred & Livingetc