Victoriana and a Zen-like calm in a north London terrace
The man behind the über-chic Daylesford look has curated a family home of equal sophistication and style, says Katie Law
CHINESE architect Spencer Fung and his Catalan designer wife, Teresa Roviras, love the straightforward practicality of their Victorian terrace house in north London. “Victorian architects got a lot right, especially their ability to design so many different rooms,” says Fung, who bought the 1895 three-storey, double-fronted property in 2006.
The previous occupants had lived in the red-brick house for 30 years and it was “quite neglected”. But fireplaces and cornices were intact and the layout perfectly suited the couple with one small daughter and another baby on the way.
“We loved the intimacy of having so many rooms,” says Fung. “I hate the modern intervention of knocking down walls and adding big extensions or glass roofs.” Fung, 56, who was born and brought up in Hong Kong, is the secret weapon behind the Daylesford brand. The Cambridge and AA-trained architect has been designing Carole Bamford’s über-cool shops and spas since 2001, so it’s no surprise to see the same paredback aesthetic in his own home.
“I wanted to keep it all as simple as possible. The only structural change we did was to join the dining room to the kitchen by putting in a rectangular arch opening between the two.”
CLEAN, FRESH LOOKS
He then unified the spaces by using French grey marble throughout: on the floors, the kitchen worktops and for the kitchen island, as well as in all the bathrooms. “We were inspired by Teresa’s family home in Barcelona, where they wash the floors with bleach so it always smells clean and fresh,” says Fung.
Any hint of coldness from the marble is tempered by the warmth of smooth, natural plastered walls, floppy oatmeal linen curtains, limed oak kitchen cupboards, oversize woven willow lampshades, and an impressive collection of pottery, glass and found objects.
Two oak and glass-fronted cabinets in the elegant dining room flank the fireplace and are packed with pieces, from functional plates, cups and bowls, to decorative ceramic jelly moulds, tiered cake plates and old stoneware bottles. Kitchen shelves display more bottles, jars and pewter plates, while walls and surfaces are dotted with weathered driftwood and antlers.
“We used to love going to find things in markets and Portobello Road on Fridays. We were unstoppable, but the house is full up now,” laughs Fung.
The original fireplaces, dismantled for cleaning, were stolen when the house was being refurbished. “Fortunately we found replacements in simple designs, in steel, marble or wood, very much in our taste,” says Roviras, 51, creative consultant and founder of traditional toyshop, Hedgehog. The sitting room, “a grown-up room for friends” is at the front of the house, filled with more objects including a section of windows on the mantelpiece, restored by Fung using foxed mirrored glass. Other curiosities include vintage boxes with rusty nails picked up on Thames-side walks, stones, bleached shells, old photos and Fung’s ink-wash watercolours.
The same mix of monochrome modern and vintage continues upstairs. The master bedroom has a pale limed oak floor and bedhead with everything concealed in cupboards. By contrast, the couple’s clothes are displayed — colour-coded, from whites to greys to beiges to browns — in repurposed Edwardian shop vitrine cases in the next-door dressing room. Their son, Lawrence, 11, sleeps on the top floor in a steel-framed bed he designed when he was 10. Daughter Aurelia, 13, has just a smidgeon of colour in her room: a barely-there pink cushion on her bed.
Outdoor room: low box beds, white hydrangeas, herringbone paving and mature ash
Chic simplicity: natural wood, stone, foxed glass and easy-on-the eye colourway
Family time: Spencer Fung, Teresa Roviras, son Lawrence and daughter Aurelia