Incorporating reclaimed wood from the East, old lamps hitched on pulleys and tactile vintage elements, Belgian designer Lionel Jadot has brought out the soul of this stately London townhouse.
No detail is left unturned by Lionel Jadot’s watchful and playful eye. When the Belgian designer took on this project, a narrow four-storey townhouse in London’s Knightsbridge, he started with a synopsis. “I wanted to create the feeling not of being in the heart of a busy city but of being on holiday — even if it’s just travelling with your eyes from the sofa,” Jadot says. “If you take the time to sit and look, there are surprises everywhere. You will see a lot of little things.” Jadot opened out the house so that wherever the owners sit — whether in the kitchen or dining room — they can see through to another space and not feel like they’re living in a box. Aside from the staircase and a moulded ceiling in the drawing room, Jadot has changed everything. He removed walls; rearranged room layouts; created space from former sculleries for a lower-ground swimming pool; and built a small, relaxed garden so that each room could soak up light and verdant views. Jadot’s design approach is both self-taught and deeply instinctive. He spent much of his childhood in his family’s Vanhamme bespoke upholstering factory outside Brussels and, following the premature death of his mother, honed his skills from the age of 18 while working with his father. His playground was the factory floor, where he fashioned toys from the leftovers of sofa frames, feathers, colourful fabrics and horsehair. It gave him the freedom to explore, to take risks, to “see”. “It changed the way I looked at everything, from the street to the forest,” he says. “Anything could be interesting to me.” This passion for the reclaimed and repurposed echoes throughout the house. In collaboration with a trusted team of artisans, Jadot and his work emphasise the bespoke and unique. “It allows me to invent and give something more special to my clients,” he says. Lodged between large slabs of exotic wood shipped from the East is a huge batch of discarded offffcuts that Jadot rescued from a factory going out of business in Belgium. These pieces inspired the striped detailing, mixed with brass, throughout the kitchen and dining areas. The extra-wide flfloorboards were also rescued, this time from an old factory in South America. The original doors of the house were reimagined as panelling in the drawing room and as a “contemporary composition” set within black ››
‹‹ MDF frames in the teenagers’ rooms. “I see it as my job not to cut down any more trees if I can help it,” Jadot says. A key to Jadot’s design is his focus on materials. For example, he’s secured glass panels within strips of bamboo, inlaid hand-forged iron doors and hitched up sculptural lights made from old lamps using a pulley system of his own design. “You can play with [the lights], positioning them in different ways like you would play with a work of art,” he says. Jadot has ingeniously hidden televisions behind sliding panels or framed artworks. Elsewhere, gold leaf — inside nooks and behind thick glass bathroom bricks — further helps to catch the light. A vast collection of vintage Bakelite and 18th- and 19th-century brass handles that he’s picked up on his travels lend warmth to cupboard doors. In the bedrooms, tactile leathers — sourced from a tannery in Spain that uses old techniques and no chemicals — leave a subtle scent. He works organically, “following a feeling”, taking each room one by one. “I never have the whole plan in my head when I design a house,” he says. “I like to work on one little thing and then the next little thing — like piecing together a puzzle. I worry that if I think about a project all at once, I’ll become complacent and sacrifice my integrity and originality.” This spirited flow of ideas allows for sensual designs, too. The lines of the top-floor bathroom’s glass partitions, reminiscent of ››
‹‹ a chic Parisian conservatory, follow the curves of the house’s rooftop. Shafts of natural light catch from the Julie Lippensdesigned terraced garden and flflood down through the open staircase to each flfloor below. The lower-ground pool, which is lined with Pierre de Vals stone, brings the outside in with views of the garden’s York stone steps and plants of box and evergreen. “I always think it is a little depressing if you can’t catch glimpses of the sky when you swim,” Jadot says. For this sixth-generation furniture-maker turned artist, architect, designer and fifilmmaker, this highly considered approach has become his signature. “I don’t feel at home in a minimal house,” Jadot says. “I like to see imperfections and play with a mix of expertise and nonchalance. I try to cultivate the feeling that when I change a house, maybe some of it was there before. I look to bring the soul out in everything.”
this page: in the drawing room, repurposed wooden doors serve as both wall panelling and a sliding screen to hide the television; VANGHENT rug; LIONEL JADOT chaise longue. opposite page: in the kitchen nook, GASTON IZAGUIRRE painting; kitchen island designed in brass with marble sourced form Dominique Desimpel; Rocky Mountain Hardware tap; Lionel Jadot velvet-upholstered sofa.
this page, from left: the lower ground floor pool. In the study, LIONEL JADOT custom table and bench, lined with naturally finished leather sourced from Spain; wood floors rescued from an old factory in South America; cupboard doors made from remnants of teak, padauk and iroko; 19th-century painting, artist unknown; vintage Swedish pendant lamp. opposite page: in the dining area, Jadot designed the pendant lamp using vintage elements.
this page: in the bathroom, AGAPE bathtub; taps from Dornbracht. opposite page, clockwise from top left: in one bedroom, vintage desk chair upholstered in Turkish silk velvet; JOSÉ ESTEVES bedside light. In the main bedroom, cupboards lined with nubuck leather from Stolz; writing nook lined with brass frame and gold leaf; cupboard doors disguise another television; 18th-century Chinese stool. In another view of the bathroom, bamboo secures glass panels for partitions. In a teenager’s bedroom, vintage desk chair; VANGHENT herringbone carpet; oak cabinetry; cupboards in painted MDF with doors made from raffiffia. Details, last pages.