A 1790 terrace in north London. The top floor has an open-plan master bedroom and en suite. Below are the children’s bedrooms and bathroom. The ground floor features a living room, which steps down to the kitchen and courtyard garden. In the basement is a large dining area and laundry.
It's no wonder the elegant façade of this Georgian terrace in north London drew Solenne de la Fouchardière, co-partner at furniture and lighting company Ochre, and her husband Simon Lee with its grace.
Located on a charming, tree-lined road, the four-storey house retains its period features, including the original cobbled pavement at the front. There’s even an attractive gastro-pub on the corner. ‘Living here, it feels like you’re almost walking into the countryside,’ says Solenne.
This calm prevails on the inside, too. Here, the style pendulum swings away from anything eclectic, instead towards spare minimalism and artisanal design. Nothing is too fluffy, nor is it too grand.
The walls feature a two-tone stripe and the skirting is painted on. The flooring is vintage Parisian cobbles.
From achieving the perfect height line for the two-tone stripe on the kitchen walls to sourcing the vintage Parisian cobbles that were transported to the kitchen one at a time, as the sacks wouldn’t fit through the front door, the couple’s approach to decoration is time-consuming, as well as money- consuming, admits Solenne.
She spent a lot just on sample pots alone to get the kitchen walls right. The idea for this came from a picture of a French kitchen Solenne saw years ago and has always wanted to recreate. ‘It works well in a tall room,’ she says. ‘The painted-on skirting is also a clever trick. It’s how they cope with uneven floors. It cheats the eye.’
In hindsight, the cobbles are not great for shoes as they are so uneven,’ says Solenne. ‘But they are really warm with the underfloor heating and give so much texture. It feels very us. The cobbles extend beyond the kitchen into the courtyard garden – a real bistro vibe la Français.
In the basement laundry-cum-winter party room, a pendant with an illuminated glass orb is the first thing you see as you walk down the stairs. ‘I love its monastic feel,’ Solenne says. ‘The room has a low ceiling, so it grounds the space perfectly and was a starting point for the design in this room. ’ The pendant hangs above an old Spanish table that the couple picked up on Île de Ré, complemented by a Technics turntable for extra conviviality when friends are round.
The palette is muted in putty greys and denim blues, determined by the chalky stucco applied to the chimney breast and the limed pine floors. ‘I’m drawn to the blue end of the spectrum – blues, greys and a bit of pink,’ says Solenne.
Soft tone-on-tone velvets, curved shapes and hand-forged bronze furniture sum up Solenne’s clean aesthetic.
One corner of the living room acts as a study. The modern light is a foil to the bare floorboards, treated with lime oil, and artisanal pieces.
On the top floor, the master bedroom is the brightest space, previously two bedrooms turned in to one suite. The couple opened up the fireplace and removed the plaster. They exposed the bricks and got an Italian artist to apply polished plaster, finished with olive oil on top for a slightly satin feel.
Classic meets contemporary with this marble block sink and glamorous gold details.
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