British interior designer Harriet Anstruther has sent me wonderful photographs of a grade II listed 1840s London town house she has redesigned from a very messed-up place, into a glamorous family home. Inspired by and infused with her background in fine art and fashion, she has created a comfortable home and workspace for her, her husband, Henry Bourne, her daughter and their dogs.
‘I knew exactly what I wanted’, she says – to restore the original architecture and allow it to speak for itself, but also to add a sense of modernity. The result is an elegant and warm home filled with astonishing furnishings and art she collects avidly.
I thought it’d be nice to ask her a few questions while we take a tour around the rooms …
Hello Harriet, tell me a little about your background – what career path has led you to what you’re doing now ?
I trained initially in fine art before working in fashion, textiles, journalism and styling, and since 1998, in interior design consultancy.
The living room on the second floor.
Your signature style ?
Really don’t have one, but I’m keen on individuality, wit, humour, eccentricity. Like to mix traditional, classical styles with very modern pieces. Each job very much tailored to the clients desires and characters.
What was the house like when you first saw it ?
A mess. Divided into 3 flats with random partitions and staircases all over the place. All original proportion was lost.
Harriet added unlacquered brass strips to the Bulthaup kitchen units to match the taps. The counters and shelves made of white marble.
The skylit dining area and kitchen occupy a single open space that was added at the back of the first floor.
Your biggest challenge to complete this project ?
Budget as ever! Not losing my mind in the process. Being patient isn’t my strong point.
On the house’s first floor, a watercolor by Harland Miller hangs over a fireplace. The Soft Wood chairs are by Veronika Wildgruber. A glass insert in the dining-area floor sends light down to Bourne’s basement-level studio, which opens onto a garden courtyard.
Your best decoration advice ?
Enjoy it. Take your time. Find inspiration everywhere. Don’t be too proud to re-design things if they don’t work.
The first-floor family room – the ‘less formal’ living room one floor below – vibrating with the intense colors of the furnishings and artworks.
A design/taste faux-pas ?
Believing there are rules.
A blue and white Osborne & Little toile wallpaper in the guest room.
The master bathroom.
A hot pink skylight in the master bathroom’s shower.
The comfortable and more traditional master bedroom.
Your favourite designers/creative people ?
Lord & Lady McAlpine (collectors), Tracy Boyd (home-ware), Julia Muggenberg (jeweller), Catherine Walker (painter), Henry Bourne (Photographer)
Your favourite room in your house ?
I’m particularly fond of the cloakroom (loo) on the half landing with Fornasetti wallpaper and a fire-bucket (presumably stolen from George Sixth), which I’ve cunningly fashioned into a hand basin.
London’s best shopping addresses ?
Dover Street, Bloomsbury, the museums in South Kensington.
Looking into the courtyard, Bourne’s studio is furnished with vintage Robin Day Polo chairs and a Saarinen table.
Your top 5 resources for creative inspiration?
Kiosk (NYC), Il Convento (Hotel Puglia), Granta (Writing), The V&A Museum, The Design Museum, Apartmento (Magazine)
Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning ?
At my farm in West Sussex, pruning my roses, walking my dogs and reading with no schedule for 2 days.
Harriet’s conservatory work space.
What’s next for 2013 ?
Tokyo next week with Yohji Yamamoto, a re-design of a prominent office in Downing Street/Whitehall, an apartment in the Dakota building, New York, an art installation for Burning Man, teaching at the RCA.
Thank you Harriet !
All photos © Henry Bourne
+ More at Harriet Anstruther Studio
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