Using her favourite colour throughout, Torna Russell-hills has created a beautiful home that never ceases to delight
Once the children had flown the nest, the owner of this grand home was able to indulge her predilection for pink.
In the dining room, original fireplace tiles provided the inspiration for the restful colour scheme.”
Last year, with the youngest of her three children happily set up in the basement flat of the family home, Torna Russell-hills finally felt that the time had come for a change of aesthetic direction. The house, a fixer-upper that she and her husband, Mike, had bought in Notting Hill in 1990, had already been through several renovations, but now the children were grown, Torna felt she was ready to apply a more personal approach to the decoration. Comfortable yet compact sofas have now replaced the slouchy, family-sized versions that previously gobbled up space, and a neat kitchen island topped with marble has been installed where a vast table – a favourite spot for doing homework – once dominated.
The 18-month, room-by-room redecoration of the grand Victorian property was a liberating experience for Torna, who co-founded her textile business, Torna Lucia, with her eldest daughter Lucy. “I no longer had to worry about the changing needs of the children. It was my chance to create not only a pretty, relaxing space for Mike and me to enjoy, but also an indulgent interior that is special to me.”
With the help of friend and interior designer Samantha Todhunter, Torna has explored her creative boundaries. The once dark and dramatic sitting room has been reimagined
with punchy raspberry on the walls, while jewel-coloured pouffes and armchairs are covered with luxurious, tactile velvets. “Pink is a favourite colour of mine,” says Torna, “but the grasscloth wallpaper was Sam’s idea. The texture is wonderful, and it’s perfect for masking the lumps and bumps of the walls.”
Torna’s predilection for pink even reaches her bedroom, albeit in a more muted shade teamed with grey to enhance the tranquil feel of the space. “This room was inspired by a watercolour I have of my grandmother,” Torna explains. “I’ve tried to emulate the serenity I feel when I look at the painting, and the palette is based on the bedside lamp I inherited from her.”
This attention to detail is evident elsewhere in Torna’s home. In the bathroom, a chandelier intensifies the glamour of the marble, while in the dining room, fireplace tiles provided the inspiration for the restful colour scheme. There are hints here, too, of Torna’s passion for texture and pattern. Bold colour has been sacrificed for intricate flooring, delicate patterned curtains and a sculptural Lindsey Adelman pendant that deftly references the duck egg blue of the Soane dining chairs.
“Mine isn’t a particular style,” says Torna. “I was never very keen on impersonal schemes where everything is new. What I have created, though, is something that I love. A delicious home that both surprises and delights.”
Art plays an important part in this scheme. The Tim Rossi painting (left) depicts a scene from the film Psycho.
“I love the way the portrait of my great-grandmother (this page) looks over disapprovingly from the opposite wall,” says Torna. Bespoke Frame side tables, Birgit israel, birgitisrael. com. 1964 Extra Fine Arrowroot wallpaper in coral red, from £51m, Phillip
Jeffries, phillipjeffries.com. Interior design, samantha todhunter Design, samanthatodhunter.com.
The pretty pattern of the parquet flooring was Samantha Todhunter’s idea and is based on a design she saw in a French château.
Branching pendant light
BB0528, Lindsey Adelman, lindseyadelman.com.
The Opera Chairs in Duck Egg Blue buffalo calf leather, Soane Britain, soane.co.uk.
Bespoke Mansion Weave parquet flooring, Element 7, element7.co.uk.
Terraces and balconies blur the boundary between inside and out, adding another dimension to the property’s living spaces. “It’s a very easy house to live in, beautiful yet relaxed,” says Torna (above).
Open shelving and drawers were chosen to replace cupboards, while a separate oven provides an alternative to Torna’s beloved Aga during the summer months. In good weather, the couple likes to make the most of the balcony (opposite page).
Diner 75 pendant light, £666, Original BTC, originalbtc.com.
Maroc wall tiles in Milk and Sage, £300sq m, Popham Design, pophamdesign.com.
Torna removed the hinges from the triptych mirror (left) so she could hang it flat against the wall in this narrow space.
Antique triptych mirror,
Shane Meredith Antiques, 020 7381 5277. Bespoke console table, Samantha Todhunter Design, samanthatodhunter.com.
Creamy marble-clad floor and walls (above) are paired with a glittering chandelier (left) for a glamorous look. “I wanted to get out of bed and feel as if I had stumbled into the Savoy,” says Torna.
Arabescato Corchia marble,
Stone Design London, stonedesignlondon.com.
The intricate wrought-iron balustrade (right) is original to the house, which was built in the 1860s.
Chairs in Romeo & Giulietta Chiné col 104, £447.60m, Dedar, dedar.com. Bespoke flatweave stair runner,
The beautiful bedcover was hand-embroidered in India and complements the delicate greys elsewhere in the room. “I wanted this space to feel warm and calming, which is reflected in the colour scheme and soft furnishings,” says Torna.
Headboard in Palampore in Charcoal Blue on Oyster, £197m, Bennison Fabrics, bennisonfabrics.com. Pink hand-embroidered Kashmiri wool blanket, £250, Torna Lucia, tornalucia.com.