Nicolas & Fabienne's Quirky and Colorful London Home

House Tour

Name: Nicolas, Fabienne, daughters Juliette (13) and Capucine (9 1/2), Burmese cats Won Ton and Dim Sum, and Old English Sheepdog puppy Bowee
Location: Clapham/Battersea, London, United Kingdom
Size: 2310 square feet
Years lived in: 1 1/2 years; owned

As French transplants to London, Nicholas and Fabienne describe their style as "a bit different" to that of the average British person. As such, they'd nearly given up hope of ever finding a home that suited them, when by chance they came across a house for sale on the very South London street they'd been living on - and loving - for years. The only problem? It was nothing like their dream home.

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"At first, we thought it might be a bit too much work for us", says Fabienne, recalling the dark and cramped living areas and room after room covered in "dirty yellow paint". But buoyed by the fact that they could continue living in their rental property while the works were completed, the family leapt head-first into renovation mode. "The kitchen and loft extensions had been done, but not very well" says Fabienne. For this family of foodies (Nicolas works in the restaurant industry), a tiny dark kitchen wasn't going to cut it, nor was a loft with a false ceiling so low you felt you had to duck. "We wanted to open everything up, let in the light, and create spaces where we could relax together."

Despite working with an architect for the technical drawings, many of the most successful design ideas, including the large frosted glass door to the living room, the built-in shelves surrounding the fireplace, and the seating nook overlooking the kitchen - are straight out of Fabienne's imagination. In fact, Fabienne had such a great time managing the project that she's now left her former career in marketing to study interior design.

Two years later, the family has settled into their own, bright and modern, version of a typical London Victorian. Photographing this home was a joy, and not only because of the two affectionate cats who followed me from room to room as I did so. Fabienne's attention to detail is impressive, and quirky touches like whimsical lighting and his-and-hers wallpapers in the dressing room kept me smiling the whole time.

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Apartment Therapy Survey:

Inspiration: Travel, cities, hotels, architects, magazines.

Favorite Element: The light.

Biggest Challenge: In the UK, a boiler that works! The whole house was actually a challenge, it had not being touched (or else it had been done badly) for the last 15 years. When we first saw it, everything was covered dirty yellow paint.

What Friends Say: "So easy to find your house with your orange door!"

Biggest Embarrassment: Lots of empty walls for the time being, as we got rid of most our posters to buy some real art. But that takes time (and money)!

Proudest DIY: Designing the living room library and the big sliding door.

Biggest Indulgence: Designer lighting fixtures, and an Austrian goose-down duvet for our bed.

Best Advice: Buy only what you absolutely love. Some furniture is pricey but it's like in fashion; a beautiful, branded basic lasts forever.

Dream Sources: Moooi, Piet Hein Eek, Baccarat by Stark...

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Resources of Note:

ENTRY

    • Wallpaper: Designers Guild
    • Pendant light: Dix heures Dix
    • Wood flooring (throughout ground floor): Bembé
    • Stair runner: Roger Oates

LIVING ROOM

    • Coffee table: Vitra
    • Sofa: very old (we were students when we bought it!) Hughes Chevalier, covered in fabric from Designers Guild
    • Floor lamp: Flos
    • Side table: Kartell
    • Table lamp: Lightyears
    • Chair: Vitra
    • Dog bed: Fatboy
    • Pendant lights: Lightyears
    • Lion head: Streetwires, a workshop in Cape Town, South Africa

DINING ROOM

    • Table and chairs: Kartell
    • Dog & Cats bowls: Alessi
    • Lights: Flos
    • Paper moose head: Miho
    • Multi-flower vase: Tsé Tsé, Paris

KITCHEN and SEATING NOOK

    • Kitchen units: Euromobil
    • Lights: Flos & Ingo Maurer
    • Bench and cushion fabrics: Designers Guild

HALLWAYS

    • Pendant light (2nd Floor landing): La Voliere by Matthieu Challieres
    • Pendant light (3rd Floor landing): Diesel with Foscarini

JULIETTE'S BEDROOM (Blue)

    • Bed: Ikea
    • Bedside table: Kartell
    • Stool: Bramex Design
    • Wall clock: Diamantini & Domeniconi
    • Paint and bed linen: Designers Guild

CAPUCINE'S BEDROOM (Pink)

    • Bed: Ikea
    • Bedside table: Kartell
    • Mobile: Le petit pan, Paris
    • Paint and bed linen: Designers Guild

MASTER DRESSING ROOM

    • Wallpaper: Designers Guild

MASTER BEDROOM

    • Bed: Zanotta + Missoni
    • Bedside tables: Kartell
    • Table lights: Flos
    • Eames chair: Vitra
    • Mirror: Vintage, from France
    • Paint and bed linen: Designers Guild

MASTER BATHROOM

    • Sinks and bath: Duravit
    • Shower: Bette
    • Tiles: Surface by Patricia Urquiola
    • Taps: Hansgrohe

LOFT

    • Sofa: Roche Bobois
    • Chairs: Hermann Miller and Kartell
    • Floor lamp: Artemide
    • Mobile: Guggenheim shop, New York

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Thanks, Nicolas and Fabienne!

Images: Eleanor Büsing

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