Once a dilapidated flat in an apartment block, this elegant London riverside home is now awash with luxurious textures and warming tones, while retaining its Victorian roots
James and Jessica Straun raised their children in a five-bedroom semi-detached house in Clapham. But with both teenagers away at university and boarding school, it no longer felt right for their lifestyle. They planned to move further into town until a stroke of serendipity changed their minds. We spoke to James and his interior designer, Nikki Maraviglia of Fig London, to find out more.
Where did you originally focus your search? JS We began looking in the Borough area. However, one day, my wife was browsing properties online and spotted a place for sale in a block of Victorian flats in Putney. We lived in the area early in our relationship, so we decided to take a look.
Can you describe the flat?
JS It is around 260 square metres on the fifth and top floors of the block, with views of the river. It was in really terrible condition when we bought it. The previous tenant was on a peppercorn rent and did not even have central heating, just two bar heaters. Sadly, she passed away and the trust that owned the apartment put it up for sale.
What made you buy the property? JS Being able to start from scratch was a draw, as was the proximity to the river. I was born and brought up in Hong Kong, so I love being near the water. Additionally, there was our connection to the area. Mainly, though, it just felt right.
How did you find interior designers Caroline Doyle and Nikki Maraviglia of Fig London?
JS Caroline’s son was in the same year as our son at school. She and Nikki helped us with our house in Clapham, as well as a property we have abroad. They are brilliantly pragmatic and excellent project managers who create unified designs with lots of unusual, fun pieces.
What was the brief ?
JS Caroline and Nikki knew our style already, so we left the brief quite open. We were willing to experiment and be led creatively.
NM This is a new stage in James and Jessica’s lives. We wanted the design to be about them as a couple and to feel quite grown-up, but still be welcoming for the children. The design is quite contemporary, while remaining sympathetic to the period of the building.
Did you bring many pieces from your previous home? JS We brought a few bits of furniture, including the headboard and a chaise longue in the main bedroom, which are both antique family heirlooms. However, the most important items were our artworks.
NM James and Jessica are keen collectors and the paintings and photographs they own were key to our design. We often used them as a starting point for the colours, textures and mood of a room.
How do you feel about the apartment? JS It is absolutely marvellous. Even though we have been here for two years, it feels a little like a holiday home. We are very blessed.