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Interior design,

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Emily Todhunter on designing a house that embraces its inhabitants


Words by Jake Russell

Respected interior designer Emily Todhunter explains how she created a practical and characterful Kensington house

Albert Place is a Victorian house in Kensington, renovated by Mike Fisher for Studio Indigo Architecture and Design and Libby Russell of Mazzullo Russell Landscape Design. The interiors were designed by Emily Todhunter for Todhunter Earle, who spoke to Russell Simpson about working on this unique property.

A comfortable Kensington home

Albert Place is a wide, townhouse south of Kensington Gardens. In 2018, work began to completely transform the property, with the white stucco façade maintained but the rest of the house rebuilt and extensions added to the lower ground floor and basement levels.

Emily Todhunter was involved with the project from the start. Her brief was to design a comfortable Kensington home with all the everyday items needed for a family. The developer behind the project wanted to give the property the feel of a country house, while still being appropriate for the city. It also had to be as practical as possible, balancing traditional elements with the requirements of a modern family.

‘We wanted the house to have a British feel,’ Emily explained. ‘At the same time, it was important not to feel like a generic development. That meant a softer touch on some of the design features, as well as more colour and pattern. So, the chosen fabrics were warm without being bohemian, while antiques were mixed in with more contemporary pieces.'

A lateral layout

The main change was a lateral layout oriented towards the south-facing garden. This created a series of large rooms on the ground, lower ground and first floors, with views over the garden. Emily wanted to make sure the new rooms fitted with the rest of the house, as well as providing a seamless connection between indoors and out.

Perhaps the best example is the open-plan kitchen on the lower ground floor, which spans the width of the house, connecting to the dining area and family television room. It’s a generous space, with a breakfast bar, a fireplace, and a desk for planning shopping lists or family holidays. Cleverly, there is also a scullery leading off from the kitchen but hidden from view, which gives added flexibility. At the same time, floor-to-ceiling French doors provide glorious garden views, echoed in the floral-pattern curtains and leaf-shaped light fittings.

A similar effect can be seen in the games room, where, Emily explains, great care was taken to connect this space to the garden. The high ceilings, careful lighting, and full-sized windows give the impression of opening outdoors, rather than into a lightwell. A similar effect is achieved in the bedrooms at the front of the house, thanks to the clever placement of windows and lights.

My choice of London house

The project took three years in total – interrupted by the pandemic – and was finished in July 2021. ‘It took a lot of work fitting everything into the space,’ Emily admits. ‘At the same time, when you’ve got such a good team involved, you just keep going until you have all the different elements working together.’

Perhaps Emily’s favourite part of the house is the group of bedrooms at the top of the building. Here the challenge was to maximise the space available, while also creating attractive and colourful rooms. In the end, the pitched ceilings added to the character of the space, with tongue-and-groove panelling, fabric-covered shutters, fitted desks and bookshelves all giving a bespoke feel. What’s more, the bold colour schemes of red, yellow and olive ensure each room has an individual identity. At the same time, air conditioning and good storage space ensure their character is blended with practicality too.

Looking back on the project now, what impression does Emily take away from Albert Place? ‘I think the house has a really lovely atmosphere. You walk in and it’s just got a glow to it. On the one hand, it’s chic and elegant; on the other hand, it’s practical and characterful. It’s cosy, but in an unfussy way. On a freezing cold day, it’s warm and embracing; when it’s hot, it’s cool and calm. It’s got the balance just right, and it would definitely be my choice of London house. I would move in there straightaway.’


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