(Starting today, the NYTimes gets 1.5 inches thinner, while we get fatter. AT:Europe goes to two days a week, Monday and Wednesday. Go digital!)
Paul Smith wanted a flagship store that would feel like a home, and if you don't look closely, his Westbourne House looks like one of the rows of snowy white three-story Edwardian townhouses that line the streets in this stately section of Notting Hill...
British architect Sophie Hicks rescued the dilapidated corner house, attempting to preserve its character while simplifying the layout.
She installed a thick glass staircase lit from above that floods the heart of the house with light; a transparent glass front door; and carved storefront windows out of one side to attract passersby, who can peer into "The Dining Room" on the ground floor, where accessories are displayed in a glass-topped dining table.
There are clusters of paintings, someone's family portrait and a bike for sale on the landings. Bespoke suits on the third floor. "The Playroom" on the second floor has children's toys and novelty items. Sprinkled throughout are Smith-designed and one-of-a-kind items for men, women and interiors that Smith picks up on his world travels (he has since opened a dedicated interiors shop on 9 Albemarle Street in Mayfair with globally sourced antiques, objets d'art and curiosities, many of which he gives a Paul Smith makeover with eccentric colors and fabrics).
And when he is in Notting Hill, the tall, affable Smith can be seen chatting up the customers in the relaxed atmosphere, or making himself at home under a tree in the front garden where you are invited to pause among the tulips (or whatever flower happens to be in bloom).
- Kristin Hohenadel blogging from rue Vieille du Temple, Paris, France. She can be reached at kristinh @ apartmenttherapy . com