A SENSE OF PLACE
Small is beautiful, when it comes to the decorative delights of the quintessential English townhouse
How to make the most of your townhouse
Creating an environment that suits the way you live, that makes you feel comfortable, and brings you pleasure, is every decorator’s aim and ambition. Decorating is visual alchemy, drawing on the power of colour and pattern, the charm of shape and texture, the contrast between the plain and the fancy. Vastly different effects can be conjured in the same space by changing the choice of paint, paper, flooring, pictures and furniture. This is particularly apparent in townhouses because their architecture and layout is often quite similar, as I discovered last year when writing a book about 14 houses in English towns and cities, each with its own distinctive character and atmosphere.
A good place to start is in the hall. The footprint of the typical terraced townhouse is limited, and so its entrance hall is invariably long and narrow, with just enough space to pass the stairs to rooms at the back, or to the back door. This introduction to the rest of the property has been treated in a various ways by the owners featured in the book.
One of the smallest houses, a late 18th-century terraced cottage on four floors, belonging to the antiques dealer Jack Laver Brister and his partner Richard Mawes, has a hall barely wider than the front door. When they bought it, the interior was painted white throughout, set off by wall-to-wall fitted carpeting in pale porridge – conventional decorating wisdom for making a house feel lighter and more spacious. Jack and Richard took the opposite approach, ripping up the carpets
left: the receptionrooms in gavin waddell’s regency townhouse. right: ros byam shaw with tasha
left: the bathroom and details (right) in jack laver brister and richard mawes’ home