all things considered
Extra-special care and attention was given to the thoughtful restoration of this Edwardian terrace in west London
Soon after slipping off your shoes by Vivienne and Hamish Pringle’s front door, an air of calm descends. Ahead, white walls stretch towards the garden where flowers cascade from vintage plant stands. In another direction, through a Crittall screen, you can glimpse rangy white sofas piled with handwoven cushions. A trio of specially adapted pendant lights hovers over the rustic dining table, one of the many details that cement the modern but soulful feel of this London townhouse.
Downsizing from a rambling family home, the Pringles, who met in the ad agency where they both began their careers, were drawn by the Edwardian property’s previously untouched feel. ‘Our four children had grown up and moved out, so we felt it was finally time to do something for ourselves,’ smiles Vivienne. ‘This place had had the same owner for over 40 years, so it was ripe for renovation and gave us the chance to put into practice the lessons we’d learnt over years of renovating properties.’ To realise their scheme, the Pringles turned to architect Peter Thomas de Cruz. ‘ We chose him because we like the way he introduces light into older properties,’ says Hamish, who is now an artist.
However, this was no carte blanche project for the architect – every detail was considered. ‘ We wanted to modernise the interior but not turn it into a featureless white box,’ says Hamish. The couple rented during both the design and planning application period and the nine-month building process. ‘Planning in great
‘Designing our own kitchen and employing a professional joinery company to build it produced a unique result and also saved us money’
detail made all the difference and giving the builders free rein was the most efficient way of working,’ says Vivienne.
The transformation was startling, creating a ground floor with a series of light, open spaces out of what was previously a huddle of dark rooms linked by skimpy pine doors. A new wide opening from the hallway offers a sight line to a profusion of greenery in the garden. Here, instead of bifolds, a square bay window, its black frame echoed in the fish pond beneath, projects into the garden, which is bordered by pastel-hued vertical fencing designed by the Pringles to ‘create the feel of an outdoor room’.
Inside, the varying ceiling heights are deliberate. ‘They make the space feel much less uniform,’ says Vivienne. The same train of thought was carried through to the kitchen, where the island surface is stepped. After a dispiriting trawl of kitchen showrooms, finding suitable off-the-shelf cabinetry proved elusive, so the Pringles decided to have their all-black units custom-made.
One of the aspects the pair loved most about the property was its potential for extending. Having a steeply pitched roof provided scope for a top-floor loft conversion with generous ceiling heights and windows – the perfect space for when the children visit.
On the floor below, the space was reshuffled to create a main bedroom, bathroom and walk-through dressing room with a sliding pocket door – an ingenious way of muffling the noise of an early riser. This is clearly a house designed for a couple
relishing the luxurious indulgence of having empty rooms, so the other two bedrooms on this floor are currently used as studies.
Vivienne, who co-founded the maternity clothing brand Blooming Marvellous, has put her own stamp on the house with resourceful details that draw on years of styling for her former business. The striking set of pendant lights, which cascade from top to ground floor, have a designer look, but are made from high-street light fittings, fixed to woven flex from a local electrical shop. In one bedroom, the headboard is made from porcelain tiles to echo the bathroom floor; in another, embossed tin tiles have been used.
Another perk of starting from scratch, according to Hamish, has been commissioning pieces from individual makers. The basket lampshades over the dining table were woven in Africa for a British Fair Trade design company. ‘ We’d seen their wastepaper baskets in a magazine and thought, let’s invert them to make lights,’ he says. ‘After several months they produced this design.’ They are hung from a metal rod, its shape mirrored in the picture ledge used for an ever-rotating display of art by friends, family and Hamish, who is poised to go to art school for the first time this autumn.
One of Hamish’s pieces hangs in the main bathroom. Designed to echo the circular mirrors, it is made from shards of sea-flattened Solent clay, gathered over months of Sussex beachcombing. Apparently simple, but based on time and thought, it is a piece that symbolises the spirit of this contemporary, well-considered home.
‘Using an architect with vision helped create the wow factor’