Property match: Camden mews house WLTM couple or small family, fond of maximalism and vintage finds
PUBLISHED: 10:04 06 May 2016 | UPDATED: 17:11 06 May 2016
Take one Camden mews house, add a celebrity stylist, a creative director and a collector's instincts then throw a baby into the mix and you get a fabulously unique home, bursting at the seams and ready to welcome its next inhabitants.
For celebrity stylist and costume designer Kate Halfpenny, building up a collection of fabulous pieces goes with the job. How could north Londoners like Kate Moss and Daisy Lowe as well as international stars Rihanna and Cate Blanchett rock a red carpet if it weren’t for her magpie-like eye for a vintage showstopper, not to mention Mylene Klass’s north London abode, which has also been given the Halfpenny treatment?
For women of a certain age that eye is best known for its retro-infused, laid-back take on the wedding dress, which anyone who’s stopped by her appointment-free, fee-free, airs-and-graces-free bridal boutique knows and loves (so speaks a serial bridesmaid).
But it’s that collection that has seen Halfpenny and her husband, James, a creative director at an east London agency, outgrow their three-bedroom mews house in Camden, on the market for £1,350,000, and is sending them to a bigger space in Hackney where the prints and paintings will have space to breath – and multiply.
“I’m selling the house with gritted teeth but I know somebody will fall in love with it and it’ll be a perfect home for them,” says Halfpenny. “We’ve got a huge and growing collection of furniture and art. We’ve run out of wall space, we’ve got a whole set of prints that we’ve got at the framers and we haven’t got anywhere to put it, as you can see.”
It’s true that pictures line the walls of the former printers’ premises, which Halfpenny gutted and renovated when the couple moved in seven years ago, replacing the 1980s pine-and-glass look with wooden floorboards, exposing the original concrete floor and installing large windows.
Fabulous one-off vintage furniture and antique objets fill the rest of the space, while overspill heads down to the couples’ beach house in the London thrifters’ favourite holiday spot.
“We have a house in Whitstable and there’s amazing antiques shops down there and in Margate. Anything that doesn’t fit in here just goes down there.”
There’s not a scrap of IKEA in the house, Halfpenny says, which comes as little surprise since the property is the polar opposite of the Swedish monolith’s disposable, anonymous basics ethos.
Whereas in many relationships one partner holds the worst excesses of the other in check when it comes to home décor, spending or collecting, Halfpenny and her husband clearly share an aesthetic, which developed before they were even a couple and revealed itself in a strange twist of fate.
“Before we ever got together, James saw the huge set of drawers that we have behind the sofa in the living room in a shop and went home to measure up his space to see if they’d fit. He called them back from home and said he’d like to take them but the shop had already sold them – to me. Now they’re our shared drawers.”
Compounding the effect is the addition to the family eight months ago of baby Sylvester, who has come with his own growing portfolio of stuff.
“We always swore we’d never sell this house but we decided we had to grow up. We considered staying put and putting a glass box on the top like some of the neighbours have done but it wasn’t the long term solution.
“The house does work for a small family – it’s a three-double bedroom house – just not for the way we live. It’s not really the baby’s fault. He’s just compounded the fact that we’re collectors.”
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