A modern take on British heritage: get the look of this elegant West London Townhouse

A modern take on British heritage: get the look of this elegant West London Townhouse

Tucked away behind a Victorian shopfront in the heart of Chelsea hides an elegant paradise of calm tranquility and good taste. A lush green garden, velvet furnishings, beautiful craftsmanship, a rich colour palette and carefully selected textiles come together in a design which feels classically British and refreshingly modern at the same time. Annabel Jack, MADE.COM’s Commercial Director, masterminded the look of this five-bedroom terrace in just eight months. We visited the lovingly designed family home – where she lives with her husband James, children Robbie and Annie, new arrival Theodore and the very lively pup Olive – to find out how to make traditional look so tempting.

It’s a house steeped in tradition, yet manages to be both timeless and liveable, grand but infinitely comfortable. It ticks all the boxes of Victorian architecture, which can be tricky to navigate: narrow staircases, a slightly labyrinthian layout plus many niches and alcoves. But Annabel gives this setting a distinctly modern feel—by adding textiles from contemporary designers like Nina Campbell or Matthew Williamson, plus colour schemes which update the traditional country house palette: deep greens and blues to pale yellows and greys.

“I like a challenge. And luckily for me the house needed refurbishment from top to bottom. When we got married earlier this year, my husband James and his kids moved to London from the Home Counties – and of course this city can be overwhelming when you’re used to rolling green hills. So above all, what I set out to do with this house is to create a place where they can truly feel at home.”

Mission truly accomplished. The house is designed as a family home through and through: James’ daughter Annie helped choose colours and fabrics for the kids’ rooms (“She’s fabulously creative, so being able to work on a project like this with her and run ideas past her was great!”); the barbecue in the garden was built by Annabel's dad and the snug on the lower ground floor is a dedicated space for Annie and Robbie to hang out with friends.

The heart and soul of the house is the garden, filled with white hydrangeas and wisteria: “Our garden is landscaped to the kitchen and sitting room. Everyone says it feels like you’re in the country and it’s actually the main reason why we bought this house. It’s large enough to kick a ball around, which you hardly ever get in London – we’re incredibly lucky to find such an unusual space.”

“My concept for the interior? A fun, vibrant family home that’s not too grown up for teenagers. The result is a good mix of eclectic furniture styles, but it’s the colour and prints that make it feel modern.”

Annabel approached the project with precision and a clear plan (“I’m pretty clear-minded on what I want, so there wasn’t much room for ideas outside of that!”). Here are her tips on how she made the project a success.

Listen to the experts

“The living room was definitely a team effort. I had help from my friends who have the most wonderful interior design company: Turner Pocock.” Together, Annabel and the team created a dark, moody design scheme for the living room – an interior that feels almost boudoir-like with Chesterfield-style sofas, inky teal walls and elegant brass detailing: “I’d seen this shade of dark green on Instagram and knew I wanted to use it in the house. Turner Pocock helped me pull it off.”  

Go all out on colour…

“The designers gave me the conviction to not only go for the dark green – but also to paint every wall and as well as the cabinets with it. The concept really set the tone for the whole house and I ended up using green hues in most rooms”, Annabel explains.  

… and then offset it with beautiful textiles

“To balance it out we chose lots of contrasting textiles and fabrics. I love MADE’s entire velvet upholstery range so it was really hard to select just a few products! In the end we went with the Julianne and Scott sofas and Cecil armchair. They are brilliant quality and all go with the dark green paint that I have in each room.”

Invest in solid basics

“This may sound weird, but my biggest indulgence in this house was definitely the joinery. All of it is new and there is a lot of it. But I love the look it’s created in each room – it’s a solid base to build from and really ties the interior together: The children’s snug is more industrial with wooden panels, MADE’s classic Haywood chairs and neon lighting. (I love them, I wish we’d be launching our own collection!)”

Be decisive

“I follow lots of fabric houses and designers on Instagram so was able to create very clear mood boards to follow for each room. As I’m really decisive, I didn’t spend time deliberating different options as it would have taken too long.The concept for James’ office, for example, was clear from the start.” As an entrepreneur and investor Annabel’s husband needs a functioning work space at home. The result? A large wooden desk, built-in shelves with plenty of filing space and a crisp blue colour scheme.

It’s all about quality patterns

Take traditional wallpaper, but update it with modern patterns and colours – and then apply it everywhere: “Wallpaper was at the top of my wishlist for the house. I wallpapered the utility room and most of the bathrooms – which seems unnecessary, but it’s cool and why shouldn’t they be beautifully designed spaces instead of entirely functional?”

Mix bright textiles with muted colours

Opulent textiles are a charming way to add texture. If the prospect of using them in the bedroom sounds too overwhelming, Annabel has an idea for that, too: “My sister in law, who was a brilliant sounding board throughout the whole redecorating process, suggested muted paint palettes for the more serene bedrooms to match the statement textiles. For our own headboard I loved the idea of using buttery hues in front of a pale yellow wall. It’s such a sunny combination and just uplifts you every morning.”

“I’ve LOVED working on this home. It’s so special. My proudest moment was when Robbie came home from school one weekend, walked through the front door and said: ‘I really love this house.’ Coming from someone that grew up in the countryside and was reluctant to be London-based – it made me so happy.”

Article written by: Lisa Wenske
Photography by: Veerle Evens

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