STYLE & SUBSTANCE
Memories of France influenced the bold interior style of this London home
Nicola and Andy Hicks were not overly impressed when they first viewed the Victorian semi they now live in. ‘The interior was very outdated,’ says Nicola, ‘plus it’s on a hill, so to get out to the garden you had to go down to the basement. I think that must have put a lot of people off.’
But the house had four floors, and Nicola could see that despite the potential problems, the property would afford ample space for her to live with Andy and their children, Hebe, now 24, Darcie, 22, and Oscar, 20 – and there would be room for her to have an office. There was a lot to do on the house, but Nicola, who is an interior designer, loved the period features. This, she felt, was a house worth taking trouble over.
The couple decided to buy the property, intending to stay there while the renovation work was carried out. When this proved impractical, they found somewhere to stay in the local area. ‘I wanted to be able to keep an eye on the work,’ says Nicola.
The first job was to move the kitchen to basement level and position it at the rear, so that there would be direct access to the garden. A recently added conservatory that Nicola did not like at all had been built on to the basement at the back of the house – it was dark and uninspiring and Nicola didn’t hesitate to get rid of it. She was keen to
install Crittall glazing in her new kitchen, as it reminded her of time spent in Paris with her French mother, whose home had a similarly broad and beautiful expanse of window area. Many of the details in the kitchen echo French bistro style – the metal bar stools, the open shelving and the large format floor tiles. ‘I sourced those from Capital Designer Studio,’ says Nicola.
She designed the kitchen herself, opting for concrete worksurfaces with bespoke cabinetry. Made out of distressed oak, the units were whitewashed to give them an industrial look. ‘I also wanted to introduce a warm metallic element, so the doors on the island unit have been sprayed in a copper colour,’ she explains. A contemporary, eye-catching chandelier in here brings the scheme together. ‘The candles aren’t real,’ says Nicola, ‘ but they’re convincing.’
With the house completed, it is the Victorian features that won Nicola over in the first instance, that she now feels give the house gravitas. The original doors, sash windows, cornicing and fireplaces all sit perfectly amidst her modern updates.
However, in her study Nicola chose decor that was more nostalgic than that of the rest of the house, with a whimsical mural. ‘I wanted this room to inspire me,’ she explains. ‘It’s my favourite spot, but I love every room here. I’m so happy that we gave this house a chance to shine again.’
sitting room splashes of yellow tones enliven this neutral setting. Marylebone coffee table, £1,125, oka, creates a similar effect. For characterful rugs, from £795, try Andrew Martin. walls painted in Down Pipe estate emulsion, £ 45 for 2.5L, Farrow & ball
hall holiday finds and family photos bring colour and personality to this space. Picture frames, from £15, Aubergine Art. For similar stair runners try Ascot Carpet Co
STUDY a bold wall treatment helps inspire Nicola’s creativity as an interior designer. ophelia mural, £360, Sidney Paul & Co. Chest of drawers, £800, Justin van breda
main Bedroom an artwork by Nicola’s daughter, hebe, creates a focal point above the bed. Silki blue Steel curtain fabric, £67m, tm Interiors. walls painted in Inchyra blue estate emulsion, £ 45 for 2.5L, Farrow & ball. For unusual table lamps, from around £10, try tk Maxx
DARCIE’S Bedroom Pretty touches soften the grey hues. Florence metal bedstead, from £179, Dunelm, would work here. wall painted in French grey absolute matt emulsion, £77 for 5L, Little greene
Bathroom Wooden touches add texture. Casino floor tiles, from £39.90sq m, Fired earth. water hyacinth storage baskets, £ 45 for three, John Lewis, are similar