Improving the light and flow was top priority when turning a London townhouse into a sanctuary-style space
There are homes with a cocooning, composed ambience, which invite you to sink into a deep sofa, kick off your shoes, inhale deeply and bask in the serenity. This is the atmosphere inside John and Yvonne Bassadone’s townhouse. Pale-walled and clutter-free, here is a home that balances elegance with a family-friendly feel.
‘As parents with young children you can sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed by plastic toys and chaos,’ says Yvonne. ‘So it was important that our home felt comfortable, but also a bit Zen.’ The couple’s background shaped their aesthetic too. ‘ We both grew up in Gibraltar and spend a lot of time in Spain, so we wanted this house to contrast with the fiery colours and bright whites of typical Mediterranean interiors.’
Although light and unusually wide for an early-victorian townhouse, the property was not without flaws. ‘There were elements of the floorplan which didn’t flow,’ says Yvonne who enlisted interior designer and university friend Talia Cobbold to re-model the house. At the rear, an awkward set of steps, which led to a once-dark partitioned office, were hurled into the skip. In their place, a deep-blue Crittall window offers a view of the new kitchen-diner, while also creating a divide between the more formal study and this relaxed family space. Here, a narrow window above the sink was enlarged to flood the space with light, and a redundant corridor turned into a utility area. The bespoke, unadorned kitchen and rustic dining table also reflect Yvonne’s leanings: ‘I gravitate towards natural materials and beautiful fabrics, avoiding anything too new or shiny.’
But Talia did manage to coax her friend out of her comfort zone. ‘I would probably have played it safe and painted everything white,’ admits Yvonne. Elsewhere the cohesive ‘flow’ of the
interior was achieved by using three shades of the same neutral paint colour. Overhead, elaborate cornicing was swapped for a more streamlined shape and the ornate fireplaces replaced with simpler, sandstone designs.
A restored handrail twirls up to the first floor, where the ungainly layout was also reshuffled to create a more logical space and align with Yvonne’s belief in the principles of feng shui. Instead of three bedrooms, a suite of rooms leads from the master bedroom through to the dressing room. From here you step in to the bathroom. ‘This was a bit of a challenge; as John wanted a shower and Yvonne a bath, and the room is not big,’ says Talia. The result is an L-shaped configuration with a panel of silvered mirror glass between bath and shower to draw your eye upwards, emphasising the scale of the room. An eye for scale was also employed on the top floor where the ceiling height was raised; a device that makes the guest room here feel deceptively large.
Working with friends can prove tricky but in this case the partnership has paid off. ‘Talia has known me long enough to appreciate my style,’ says Yvonne. The result is a deft mix of high-end and high street, a combination that has fed into the furnishings. ‘Everything has character and reflects the thought that has gone into the rest of the house,’ reflects Yvonne. ‘Every time we come back from a trip we open the door, drop our bags and draw a big breath.for an urban home, there’s such a sense of peace here. We’re very lucky.’
1 GUEST bedroom The ceiling height was raised and joinery was used to add floor-to-ceiling wardrobes with built-in bedside niches. Zig Zag alpaca throw in camel, £295; Peter Pop square-pattern cushion in Light blue, £188, all Jonathan Adler
2 master bedroom Neutral tones punctuated by slate blues create a tranquil feel. wicker bedside chest of drawers in Midnight, from £976, chelsea textiles. you’ll find a similar lamp at Pooky. blue and white cushion, from £35, warris Vianni
4 dressing room A sliding ladder allows easy access to the top-tier of storage. handles, from £163 for 8cm at ochre. blinds made from Mirandela Pebble at Prêt à Vivre, from £39.90m. Luna pendant in oyster, £295, copper & Silk
5 master EN-SUITE Contrasting tiles and a vertical mirror help draw attention away from the compact size of the room. Arabesque wall tiles, 95p each, Fired earth. Vintage Decor hexagon in white/grey floor tiles, from £15sqm, Mandarin Stone
3 GIRLS’ bedroom In here, a controlled palette of soft, pale paint tones contrasts with bright and cheerful accessories. Pink and red throws, £295, Jonathan Adler. ernest pouffe in Field Day, £282, SCP 4