Step Inside a Historic London Home That Feels More Like an Italian Palazzo
Art: Mattea Perotta. Cecil Collins © Tate.

Step Inside a Historic London Home That Feels More Like an Italian Palazzo

Studio Ashby and William Smalley teamed up to restore the abode to its former glory

A sense of rhythm and movement was imbued in myriad ways. Smalley deployed a wildly veined marble throughout the house—from lining doorway architraves, hearths, and bathroom floors to the kitchen worktop—to “thread the spaces together,” Smalley says. Meanwhile, Ashby combined tactile textures, such as watery moirés, shimmering velvets, sumptuous silks, and nubby jacquards, with furniture pieces fashioned from materials such as recycled glass, travertine, and polished resin. “A home should really feel comfortable as well as beautiful,” Ashby muses.

Eclectic touches lend an element of surprise: a customized snake-and-pomegranate rug, designed by Studio Shamshiri for Christopher Farr, winds its way seductively around the edges of the dressing room floor. Elsewhere, a jolt of orange enlivens the jewel-like guest bathroom (cleverly tucked away behind a door incorporated into a shelving wall of the basement cinema room). Notably, the pink showscreen intimates the glass-box works of American contemporary artist Larry Bell.

Ashby also favored mixing different silhouettes of furniture, like the sharp geometry of an Utrecht chair by Cassina and the rusticity of midcentury rattan with the soft voluptuousness of an Arflex Marenco sofa, to “consciously create contrast,” she explains. “A dynamism between the shapes of things allows them to play off each other, and it makes each piece sing a bit more,” she enthuses.

“We’ve done the house proud,” Smalley concludes. “When I walk in, I can feel the house’s gratitude because we’ve not only given it back its true identity, but also moved it on for future generations.” Ashby agrees. “There’s something peaceful and calming about being in a historic property which has been made to feel so contemporary and fresh.”