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Heart and soul: How one designer created a family home in just 10 weeks

PUBLISHED: 09:30 29 December 2016

Despite the location the family found their new Highgate home lacked heart - so they drafted in Ensoul

Despite the location the family found their new Highgate home lacked heart - so they drafted in Ensoul

Archant

Interior designer and founder of Ensoul Viki Lander has created a Highgate family home that's warm, playful and sophisticated at the same time.

Lander sourced vintage hospital cabinets for the dining roomLander sourced vintage hospital cabinets for the dining room

Home is where the heart is, but who do you turn to when you want your new home to have some heart? Interior architect Viki Lander and her team at Ensoul have a flair for colour and an eye for an individual. You won’t find boring palettes of neutral putty and formulaic designs in any of her projects.

“Our name “Ensoul”, if you look it up in the dictionary, literally means “to endow with a soul” and we live up to it every day by creating homes with personality, warmth, colour and texture,” Lander says.

Attracted by the location and the size of the garden, her clients Jane and Andrew purchased a seven story Highgate home, but found it’s interior boring and bland. They engaged Ensoul to design and manage a project that would see the entire house gutted and re fitted with all new fixtures, fittings and furniture – all in just 10 weeks.

“The family wanted to move in to a fully finished new home with just their clothes and personal effects,” explains Lander. “Apart from two armchairs in the master bedroom, nothing else was brought with them.”

Reclaimed timber cladding gives the kitchen a rough and ready warmthReclaimed timber cladding gives the kitchen a rough and ready warmth

It was important to the clients that their new home felt immediately welcoming.

“Jane didn’t want a minimal, cold and clinical look or for it to look too contrived or over stylised,” says Lander. “She wanted a family home, which would look lived in and homely whilst being well designed and elegant.”

By cleverly mixing colours and textures and combining old and new furniture they prevented the home from looking too ‘done’, whilst plenty of accessories and personal touches make the house feel like a home.

Adding warmth to the home required the careful marriage of colour and materials, which Lander chose carefully for maximum impact.

The boy's had a big input in designing their bedrooms around their favourite thing - ArsenalThe boy's had a big input in designing their bedrooms around their favourite thing - Arsenal

The seven flights of stairs proved noisy and drafty, so Lander carpeted them with a smart carpet runner to absorb sound and make the stairways cosier. The caramel and grey tones in the carpet tie the floors together, all seven of which have been painted in the same shade of pale grey, with a darker grey used for the woodwork.

In the kitchen / family room and games room she used insulating cork flooring that’s much softer or warmer than stone slabs or wooden floorboards.

The family are very social, so Lander gave special attention to the rooms used for entertaining, including the open plan kitchen and living area, and the separate more formal dining room.

“From a creative perspective Jane quite liked the idea of having a few industrial and vintage pieces,” explains Lander. So for the kitchen she combined stainless steel elements, cabinetry with clean and contemporary lines and industrial style pendant liens with warm wood against the back wall. “I’m really thrilled with how the timber cladding in the kitchen brings such warmth and interest to that space,” she says.

The two chairs in the bedroom were the only pieces of furniture the family bought to the houseThe two chairs in the bedroom were the only pieces of furniture the family bought to the house

For the informal living space she chose a palette of burgundy and warm grey. For the dining room she offset vintage glass hospital cabinets with a contemporary round dining table and a zingy lime green Chesterfield sofa – ideal for relaxing after dinner with coffee and board games.

Lander made sure to involve the client’s children in the process, too. “It’s really important to get to know all of our clients – even the young ones!”

The move meant the boys were about to get their own separate bedrooms for the first time, and were understandably excited at the prospect of having their own spaces to decorate. By meeting with them she discovered they loved football and were avid arsenal supporters.

“When I suggested bedrooms that were themed with the club they were ecstatic,” says Lander, who sourced locker room style furniture, stencilled their favourite players on the walls and made liberal use of the colour red.

The games room includes posters of Back to the Future - the boys' favourite filmThe games room includes posters of Back to the Future - the boys' favourite film

The family was so happy with what Lander achieved in just 10 weeks they’ve since reemployed her services to redesign and furnish the garden with a Morroco-meets-Ibiza theme.

For Lander working with clients is a symbiotic process, and it’s to them she always turns for inspiration.

“They are at the centre of what I design around,” she says. “Every project is completely unique and borne out of who they are and what they’re into. Not just in terms of design but in life. That’s what keeps it interesting for me. I could never design to a formula or set style that others prefer to work to.”

GET THE LOOK:

Dining table and bench in the kitchen / family room:

Little Tree Furniture; littletreefurniture.co.uk

Rock ’n’ Roll runner and carpet on all landings and stairs:

Alternative Flooring; alternativeflooring.com

Pendant light in dining room:

Aeros by Ross Lovegrove, Louis Poulsen, louispoulsen.com

Vintage cinema posters in the games room:

limelightmovieart.com
Desk in boy’s bedroom:

Cuckooland; cuckooland.com

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