Ur­ban Glam­our

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

Homes & Gardens - - INSPIRING SPACES - Words Jen­nifer Gould­ing Pho­to­graphs richard Pow­ers

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.

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