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Unit from Clignancourt Market; Vintage Floor Lamp; Vintage Armchair, Myriad; Fernarium Fabric by Clements Ribeiro, Schumacher; Curtains in Chiltern Linen, Fermoie; Vases, Petersham Nurseries.

When London-based fashion creative Deborah Brett first saw her two-story, 1930s-era home-to-be, it wasn’t exactly love at first sight. “It seemed very grown-up,” she recalls. At the time, Brett and her husband, filmmaker Tom Edmunds, had just married, and buying such an expansive family property felt a little too soon—like they were speeding “two or three leaps ahead.”

Still, there was something charming about the red-brick structure, with its sweeping front steps, big bay windows, and backyard that edged onto the bucolic woodland of Holland Park. The previous owners had lived there for 30 years and raised five children. “You could feel the love as soon as you walked in,” says Brett. She asked her father—who had been less than enthusiastic about the other potential candidates—for a second opinion. He took one look and was shockingly adamant: This house was a keeper.

“I needed a very comfy sofa, but it had to look sophisticated,” explains Brett of the custom-made piece in a deep mossy velvet. Another form-function favorite: The Crittall shelving unit framing the living room doorway allows natural light to filter through. Wax Flower Cushion, Preen by Thornton Bregazzi; Cushion in Lee Jofa Twig Fence Fabric by Paolo Moschino, Decorators Best.
Tonal tableaux pop up everywhere in the home. Vase, Petersham Nurseries; Jeanette II Artwork by Brenda Sakoui; Blue Gum Paint, Paint & Paper Library.

Loved as it was, the building required “a lot of work,” says Brett—practical stuff, such as a new roof, new windows, and a new boiler, plus plenty of cosmetic changes. The newlyweds restored the original Art Deco details, installing vintage chandeliers, a hand-painted de Gournay panel in the entryway, and oak parquet floors in a large-scale herringbone pattern inspired by apartments they’d seen in Paris. The French theme followed suit with a color palette of eau de nil green, lilac, and Christian Dior gray. “Very elegant and a lot of glass,” Brett notes of the overall effect.

Brett enjoying the backyard with son Phineas. Chairs in Palmeral Fabric, House of Hackney. On Brett and Phineas: Suits, Paul Smith and Burberry.

Life hummed along and they welcomed a child, then a second. The growing family—which by then also included a live-in nanny—suddenly found themselves crammed into the smallest spaces that hadn’t been updated: a cozy kitchen and nooklike living room. The sweeping back parlor once used for entertaining sat neglected, a relic of life before diapers, toddlers, and toys. When Brett discovered a third baby was on the way, she knew the house needed an overhaul—and quick.

In the kitchen, counter-to-ceiling coverage makes the glossy emerald tile all the more striking, especially with “a very dark countertop,” says Brett. To balance out the dramatic palette, she chose brass taps that “add an elegance and richness.” Mexican Tiles, Milagros; Faucet, Volevatch; Shaws Classic Sink, House of Rohl.
Brett’s own cacti-inspired pottery, the painterly leaves of a calathea plant, and other botanical vessels bring greenery of all types into the space. Hand-Painted Moroccan Table; Ceramic Vase by Deborah Brett, DB Ceramic.

Time was of the essence, but the couple approached the next round of renovations with the same creative problem-solving usually reserved for their work on fashion shoots and film sets, deliberating over each possible configuration and remeasuring at every turn. They completely opened up the first-floor layout to highlight the gorgeous back garden. However, Brett was adamant that the exterior of the building—and her prized bay windows—not be altered. So they tapped their original contractor, who “already knew the house back to front,” to expand downward, creating a new double basement for a laundry room, garage, and more.

“There’s something so grounding in working with clay, and there’s also something so unpredictable. It definitely teaches me patience,” says Brett of her passion for making ceramics—in a palette of cerulean and jade, naturally. Bringing the garden inside was central, “not just with color but also with patterns,” she explains. Ceramics by Deborah Brett, DB Ceramic.

With the structural aspects settled, they turned their attention to refreshing the decor. “I was really nervous about getting a designer in who would force me to lose the things I loved,” Brett confides. But after seeing the work of Hubert Zandberg at a friend’s place—and how thoughtfully he’d incorporated her beloved old pieces—Brett knew she’d found the ideal collaborator. Zandberg was as enthused as she was about keeping the Deco chandeliers she’d sourced, and, together, they reupholstered the interior of an antique Swedish armoire (a wedding gift from Brett’s aunt and uncle) to use as a wardrobe in one of her daughter’s bedrooms. Preserving the de Gournay panel in the entrance hall was also a must; they boarded it up with a protective covering and crossed their fingers while the basement was dug. Several months later, they found that not only had it survived but it looked better than ever, thanks to the shade of petrol green-blue Zandberg had recommended for the surrounding walls. “It brought out the colors in a totally different way—almost like we had a new painting on the wall,” says Brett.

In the guest powder room, a vintage bamboo mirror and ivy-themed Pierre Frey wallpaper channel a greenhouse. Vintage Mirror, Absolute; Espalier Wallpaper, Pierre Frey.

The verdant colorway proved a revelatory connection point for the rest of the home. Brett, an avid ceramist who studied textile design at Central Saint Martins, had long been a fan of foliage motifs, so to “bring the garden inside,” she stuck to a palette of leafy patterns and various dark green and gray hues throughout—a concept she admits could have been risky in a city known for such gloomy weather. “I have never been afraid of dark spaces,” Brett admits, laughing. “There’s something cocooning and enveloping about them.”

In daughter Hermione’s bedroom, Brett used plaster of Paris to create a faux branch canopy accented by twinkly lights to create the feeling of “sleeping in a forest.” Custom Tree Installation by Deborah Brett; Kylie Metal Daybed, Dreams; Liberty Fabric Sheets in Poppy & Daisy Rose by Coco & Rose, The Tot; Suzie Chair by Les Gambettes and Star and Heart Cushions by Numero 74, Smallable.
The primary bath’s palm print hits a tropical note during bath time for Hermione and sister Ottilie. Palm Jungle Wallpaper, Cole & Son; Spoon Bathtub by Benedini Associati, Agape; Planters by Deborah Brett, DB Ceramic.

Adding to that effect was her penchant for combining fabrics in different textures—a talent honed during her long fashion career and reflected in her “tone-on-tone” dressing style. In the living room, two shades of velvet were used for the custom-made sofa. A fern motif created by her close friends at fashion label Clements Ribeiro appears in the room’s reading corner. “I loved it so much I made them print an extra nine yards to cover my chair in,” Brett explains. In the kitchen, she leaned into the all-green palette, choosing dark emerald tiles for the backsplash and extending them all the way up and over the shelves above the sink. The design was executed by Hubert Zandberg Interiors. 

A treehouse bunk bed built for Phineas’s room echoes the wild and whimsical theme. Custom Lofted Bed; Extra-Large 96-Inch Giraffe by Hansa Creation, Houzz.

“When you’re making these decisions they can [feel] quite big and scary,” says Brett of the home’s green-centric curation. “But there’s a way to create the right balance—and that’s definitely through color.”

The Goods