After 12 years in their Richmond house, André and Cara Calloway decided some innovative alterations would make more of its elegant proportions and delightful views
Innovative design touches make the most of the grand proportions of this beautiful property.
The original architects of André and Cara Calloway’s double-fronted Victorian home designed it with the views in mind. From the front of the house, almost every room looks on to the steeple of the nearby church. From the rear, the house looks onto a spacious garden bordered by mature trees. It was this, along with the generous proportions of the rooms, that encouraged the Calloways to buy the house in the first place and, 12 years later, reinvent it to make the most of the sight lines.
‘The spaces in our home are all very beautiful and elegant, but for us it is all about the views,’ says Cara Calloway, who is a development manager in philanthropy, working in the cultural sector. ‘We light the garden – which was designed by the Chelsea winner Charlotte Rowe – at night, so we have a view front and back no matter what the season or the time of day. ’
It was Cara who suggested, after 12 years of living in the house, that they look again at the design of the interior, which the couple share with their two teenage children. Cara worked in the architecture and design world in London and Paris for nearly 20 years, so has a passion for the subject that she shares with André, who took the hint that ‘they could do better’ and took the lead with their reinvention project. As an entrepreneur, André has commissioned many commercial projects over the years and had already worked with architect Bryan O’sullivan, who started out in the studios of David Collins, Annabelle Selldorf and Martin Brudnizki before starti his own architectural and design practice.
‘Cara and I are both very interested in the environment we live in because it does play such a large part in the quality of your life,’ says André. ‘I have known Bryan for about five years but our understanding was always focused on commercial projects. This is our home, so obviously it is a very different thing and much more
personal but we ended up collaborating with him on a wholesale redesign. We worked on the entire house – every floor was redone and every wall replastered.’
Part of the redesign process for the four-storey house involved opening up a number of areas to maximise the sense of space. A key example was the master bedroom, which was connected to the en-suite bathroom via new pocket doors and a substantially wider doorway.
‘Pocket doors are a great way to transform a space,’ says André. ‘You have to rebuild the wall with a wider opening and enough depth to hold the recessed doors. But it does make a huge difference to your perception of the rooms on each side, even if it is the same floor plan.’
WHITE ON WHITE
Bryan also worked on the restoration of many original details, from doorways to cornicing, in a rapid-fire programme that took just 12 weeks. A key piece of advice was to steer away from strong colours and opt for a palette of whites that help the details stand out and bring a greater sense of unity and calm to the house, especially in spaces such as the sitting room, which flows right through from the front to the back of the house.
‘We had the vision of all sorts of colours to begin with but that really changed along the way,’ says André. ‘The whites really bring out the best of everything as the furniture and art become much more important within the home. Cara’s brother, in New York, deals in midcentury furniture and found some great pieces for us, like the dining table, but Bryan also created quite a number of bespoke designs for us. With the rugs, too, we used to have some quite highly patterned designs, but Bryan sourced more neutral, restful pieces that also tone things down. It all hangs together really well.’
The focus on bespoke pieces carried through onto the lower ground level, which also features a fluid sequence of spaces, including the kitchen, breakfast room and then a garden room by Trombé that connects, in turn, with the back garden.
For the kitchen, the Calloways opted for a handmade design by Crispin & Gemma, with a crafted timber island inspired by an old butcher’s block. ‘We are really drawn to the kitchen as a family but we do also use the sitting room a lot, especially in the winter, when we have the fire going,’ says Cara. ‘We do use every part of the house and it really works with teenage children and a dog. Each room is very elegant but it is also a practical, functional home for us all.’