Moving house is always a challenge, but even more so with a transatlantic lifestyle, so the owner of this period property decided to call in the experts to help with its total transformation
An expert eye for abstract artwork adds a distinctive touch to the calm décor of this grand period home.
Life often evolves in ways you do not expect and for New Yorker Peter Stromberg, it has definitely thrown up a challenge or two. “I came to Britain in 2001 to open the London office for my firm,” says Peter. “I thought it would only be for a short while, but sixteen years later, I’m still here.”
Peter has lived in London for all that time, but following the end of a long marriage he has had to start afresh, setting up a new family home for his three children who spend part of their time with him. “My ex-wife and I lived in Hampstead for ten years, so it made sense to stay in the same area,” he says. “Besides, I love it here as you feel as if you’re in the countryside.
“This house appealed to me because of its glorious period features,” says Peter. “It has generously sized rooms, particularly on the ground floor, and a floor-to-ceiling glass extension overlooking the garden.” Peter had no appetite for a renovation so the fact that the previous owners had installed new bathrooms, creating extra space where necessary, and a modern kitchen made the property even more attractive.
“Given my work commitments, which include travelling back and forth between here and America for business, I decided I needed the help of an interior designer,” says Peter, “especially as all I brought with me was a rug, one significant painting, my library and a wardrobe of clothes. A friend recommended Marion Lichtig and when we met, we got along instantly, seeing eye to eye on taste. I wanted the children to feel at home with the casual elegance that the space requires.”
At first, the minimal aesthetic introduced by the previous owners was not to Peter’s liking. However, as time has passed, he has found it refreshingly simple and, thanks to Marion’s expertise, he has been able to indulge his penchant for classic Danish furniture, mid-century abstract paintings and Persian rugs. The result is that she has created a calm and relaxing family home that looks as though it has evolved gradually.
“Peter was incredibly generous with his trust in me,” says Marion. “I had to buy literally everything, which for an interior designer is a wonderful situation to be in. But I still made sure that I took my time because I like to feel my way as I go so that the house evolves, rather than being done all at once.”
Marion focused on artwork in particular, as this is one of Peter’s passions, evidenced by the fact that, in spite of her attention, Peter is keen to add to his collection. “When I moved to London, I went to various fairs, including Frieze and the Affordable Art Fair,” he says. “I’m drawn to early-to-midtwentieth-century abstract works, and I feel the house still needs some more paintings, especially in my bedroom.”
This aspect aside, Peter and Marion feel that the house is finished, with just some fine tuning required. “I have quite a busy life, but I love coming back here – it has a real sense of calm,” says Peter. “I particularly enjoy the study in the early mornings when the winter light comes through the stained glass windows, and I like being out in the garden on long summer nights and hosting barbecues. It’s a fun house to live in and the family home that I was looking for.”
The bookcase was built to house Peter’s library of books, as well as a lifetime’s worth of documents and letters. It was designed by Marion and carpenter Neil Traylen to echo the cabinetry in the kitchen.
Rug, Rare Rugs, rarerugs.co.uk. Carpentry,
Neil Traylen, nrtcarpentry.co.uk.