Time spent travelling inspired these homeowners to give their London property an exotic twist
Bringing the tropics to london was Valerie leipheimer’s mission when she and her husband, Peter allen, bought their Victorian terrace seven years ago. ‘Pete and i spent a lot of time travelling before we had our sons, logan, 8, and Jensen, 6,’ says Valerie, ‘so i wanted to reflect our exotic adventures in our new home.
‘i was born in california, and have lived and worked in new york and italy, too,’ she continues. ‘So i have a love of contemporary architecture and design that i thought would fuse well with an older property.’ the couple decided to employ architecture and design company Zachary Pulman Design Studio to take on the renovation work. ‘Pete and i have been inspired by the hotels and restaurants that we’ve visited over the years,’ explains Valerie, ‘so i liked the fact that Zach works on a lot of commercial projects as well as homes.’
the couple, both lawyers, wanted to rid the old property of its gloomy interior. ‘the house was a series of dark rooms, particularly the ground floor,’ she recalls. ‘there was a formal dining room, an isolated kitchen and the family room had no windows. We wanted to eliminate all the internal walls to create a fully open-plan space. it works really well – we can keep an eye on the boys, even if we’re at opposite ends of the space. it’s fantastic when we have friends and family over, too.’
another major part of the ground floor overhaul was linking the interior to the garden, as Valerie explains: ‘the courtyard might not be huge, but having even a little bit of outdoor space is a real bonus in london. When we bought the house, it wasn’t being utilised to full effect, so we designed a glass extension that brings the outdoors in. We’ve
design tip‘ Living in a space before or during renovation work definitely has some advantages – many features may look great on paper, but just don’t work in real life’
planted the garden up with some large leafy specimens, so it’s easy to forget we’re in one of the busiest areas of the city.’
Upstairs, the luxurious makeover continued. ‘Pete and I decided to take over the whole first floor. I wanted a spa-like sanctuary bathroom and, like downstairs, I wanted to connect the room with the outdoors. We swapped the windows for French doors to give us access to a little balcony that looks down onto our garden.’
to echo the colours of exotic plants, Valerie included luscious wallpapers, vibrant rugs and carpets, and eye-catching soft furnishings in every room of the house. ‘I knew the look I wanted,’ she says, ‘and Zach helped me source all the elements to finish the house off as I envisioned it.
‘this place is much bigger,’ Valerie continues. ‘We’ve had to commission some new furniture to suit the scale of the rooms. our bed, for instance, was specially designed by a talented maker that Zach knows. We love the house now. It really does feel like an extension of us and our personalities. We are really happy watching our boys grow up here, in our very own tropical corner of London.’
kitchen & courtyard Lime green notes echo the lush planting in the courtyard. bespoke kitchen, £55,000, Zachary Pulman Design Studio 2
1 2 Bedroom Art Deco style blends with contemporary designs and colourful bedding to create a vibrant scheme. Colonnade blotch wallpaper in teal on Pearl, £240 per roll; bell Moth cushions, £138 each, all timorous beasties. Missprint Foxglove duvet...