While they both work in the fashion industry, Lisa Valencia and John Rowley have eschewed a slick look at home. Instead, glamorous indicators of their professions are teamed with vintage centrepieces and intriguing antique collections for a laidback vibe
Forgoing a ‘perfect’ house in favour of comfort, Lisa Valencia and John Rowley pick up vintage centrepieces and antique objects from wherever their careers in fashion take them
Ialways prefer objects that come with intrigue and interest, rather than buying sleek and new,’ says Lisa Valencia. That ethos is the motivation behind the home that she’s created with her husband, John Rowley. The result is a house that works as a down-to- earth family base, while showcasing a mix of artefacts and vintage gems. ‘ We wanted this home to feel lived in and real, rather than impossibly pristine, and antiques and vintage pieces are part of that look,’ says Lisa.
Lisa works as a make-up artist and has created looks for everyone from Rosie Huntington-Whiteley to Tamara Ecclestone. ‘My style is all about making a woman look like the best version of herself – letting her natural beauty shine through,’ she says. However, when it came to transforming this run-down house, there wasn’t much beauty to reveal. ‘The bathroom was a 1970s avocado suite, the kitchen was a dark and
We wanted this home to feel lived in and real, rather than impossibly pristine, and antiques and vintage pieces are part of that look
skinny galley and all the rooms felt very shut o from one another,’ remembers Lisa.
The couple completely rethought the ground floor, extending the back of the house to create a characterful kitchen with a generous dining space. But for their kitchen centrepiece, they veered away from anything predictable. The hefty kitchen island, for example, was once a workbench in a Spitfire plane factory: ‘I rubbed it back a bit and gave it a wash of white to suit the scheme,’ says Lisa. She also added a toughened glass top over its pitted surface to make it practical for food preparation, all adding up to a stylish kitchen that the couple hire out for photo shoots. The pair of doors that connect the cosy snug and more formal living room are also intriguing: a pair of reclaimed Victorian pub doors bought at Sunbury Antiques Market.
Lisa endeavours to seek out unusual items to bring back from each work trip overseas. Pieces from South Africa – such as the beaded chandelier in the snug – are especially prevalent throughout the home. ‘John is from South Africa and we’ve both worked there a lot,’ says Lisa. ‘I love to buy antique taxidermy there from small shops and, for handmade pieces, I go to local women’s
cooperatives – it’s nice to buy crafts first-hand,’ Lisa continues.
She takes a similar approach to shopping at home, too. ‘It’s much more rewarding to spot something interesting in an antiques market or on eBay, than to buy brand new and have the same as everyone else,’ she says. Favourite eBay finds include the vintage haberdashery unit in the living room, science lab stools in the kitchen and drinks trolley in the snug (see page 81). ‘Our trolley has become a place to display vintage glasses and cocktail shakers. I found some sweet Babycham glasses on eBay and my sister also looks out for them for me; she actually gave me the dainty vintage sherry glasses. Charity shops are a great place to find beautiful glasses – I look out for examples from all eras, with interesting decorative touches or in unusual shapes.’
The black-and-white photography that punctuates the walls and surfaces is a reminder of Lisa and John’s glamorous day jobs – but this is precisely why they like their home full of character and personal pieces. ‘ We’re both lucky enough to visit amazing, sleek location houses around the world,’ says Lisa. ‘But a ‘perfect’ house isn’t what I aspire to. This place is all about relaxing and knowing that you’ve arrived home.’
THIS PAGE FROM ABOVE John took the photograph of their son Jonah. The wedding photo is of Lisa’s parents. The ice bucket is from Brasspineapples.com. Kartell’s ‘Bourgie’ table lamp is from Heal’s. The cabinet was from eBay, as was the trolley lled with vintage glassware (pictured left) FACING PAGE Vintage French shutters, found at Sunbury Antiques Market, conceal the utility room. John made the shelves from copper piping and scaffolding planks
THIS PAGE FROM ABOVE The reclaimed marble basin came complete with Hollywood- style gold taps. The mirror is from John Lewis and the nautical lights either side were an eBay !nd. The tiles are from Topps Tiles; the house’s Thirties- style landing is updated with skirtings painted in ‘Down Pipe’ by Farrow & Ball, a mirror from Laura Ashley and an industrial light from Skin "int Design. The vintage "ag was a "ea market !nd FACING PAGE The bathroom wall cabinet is from After Noah and the bath is from William Holland. The wall decoration has been created using polished plaster
ABOVE The juju hat on the wall was found in Africa, while the bed is French vintage, bought at Sunbury Antiques Market. The chest of drawers is Danish mid- century LEFT The house is dotted with fashion photography and portraits: ‘John took this one of model Emily Byron,’ says Lisa. The gilt-framed 19th- century picture was a local junk shop nd. The vintage oar was bought on holiday – Goose Home and Garden sells similar examples