Interiors: Hollywood glamour in the unbridled creativity of this St John’s Wood house
- Credit: Archant
At first glance the outside of Anna and Mark Denton’s house in Marlborough Hill looks more or less like any other home on this well to do street in spruce St John’s Wood.
It may only be on your way out of the property, after you’ve glimpsed the house’s riotously colourful “Hollywood Glamour” interiors, that the words “Palm Springs” come to mind when considering the palm trees in the front garden and the desert sky blue front door.
Now Anna, a playwright and her husband Mark, an advertising creative, are hoping to subvert the classic wisdom that only neutral beige houses sell, as they move on after 12 years in the highly personalised home.
“We’re selling because my husband and I are very interested in spending the rest of our lives doing artistic projects and we need to have a studio to work from,” says Anna.
“We do like Hollywood films. When you look at those sets, when you think there’s so much out there that you can use, I just don’t understand why people stick to beige: there’s so much to look at.
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“I think people are spending so much money on they’re homes they don’t want to make a mistake because it costs a lot of money. I think we’re confident that we can make it work.”
Clearly having a career where you deal with the visual on a daily basis helps nurture this confidence: Mark has a long and distinguished career as an art director and creative partner at an ad agency and the couple met on set, when Anna was a hair and make up artist.
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A passion for interiors inspired her to take a course in interior design, but the onerous admin involved discouraged her from pursuing it as a career.
Instead she is now writing plays; her first, Sex Cells, was self produced and ran at the Riverside Studios in 2013 and there are several more projects, joint and solo in the pipeline – a musical, a photo book,
“We don’t wait for permission from people to do things,” says Anna.
Perhaps their biggest joint project so far has been gutting and re-decorating the house, which is now a testament to the appeal of treating your home as a site for personal expression.
“We had a lot of battles when we were decorating our house, mainly because I couldn’t draw, so I couldn’t explain my vision to him,” says Anna. “We decided to take certain rooms each and do them ourselves. What we couldn’t believe was that it became quite unified.
“Neither of us is frightened of colour, obviously but there were some of his ideas where on paper I thought ‘you’re mad’. In his bathroom I thought he should put mirrors around the bathroom mirror to open up the space, like people usually do, but he put them on the ceiling instead and it really works.
“He likes to express himself freely so he felt he couldn’t stop me from doing the same.”
The bespoke interiors also include a bright red-sprayed boiler room with specially built furniture; commissioned flock wallpaper from the days before it was fashionable and widely available; and “The Rumpus Room”, a full size downstairs bar.
“I love having a bar because when it comes to entertaining there’s no better space you could have.
“Dining rooms are overrated, especially because I don’t like cooking three-course meals and serving them. We always provide food, otherwise people would get completely sloshed, but we just bring it downstairs.
“There’s always somebody who wants to go behind the bar and play barman, it’s a bit like playing shop.”
Neither of the pair were strangers to adding a personal stamp to a space, but it was Mark who had experience of allowing himself full creative freedom in the process.
“He had a one-bedroom flat in Belsize Gardens which he did up like a stately home. It was really, really over the top,” says Anna.
“He even had a bespoke dresser with tins of beans on it, which he had special labels made for.
“He showed me a picture before we were going out and I just thought he was crazy.”
How have more conservative buyers reacted when viewing the house?
“Some people have been put off by the colour. We had one couple who said they didn’t want to see it because it was too colourful but then they saw it and really liked it.
“You’ve got some great bathrooms here which are really good, high end marble so long as you like those and you like the kitchen, the rest is just wallpaper and carpet.
“I’ll be sad to leave the house but at the same time, it’s silly to get attached to material things. We need somewhere that we can make a mess in.”
The house is on the market for £3,495,000 through Aston Chase