Functionality Is Overrated in This Hotelier’s London Home
Every room sparks a different emotion.
Published Jan 14, 2022 1:01 AM
Although Eric Jafari spends his days dreaming up one-of-a-kind experiences as creative director of hospitality group Edyn, he doesn’t like designing for himself. How are you supposed to create memorable, curated moments when you’re surrounded by the same things every day? And with Jafari busy opening boutique hotel after boutique hotel, there wasn’t any time anyway. But when he and his wife, Olivia, and their two sons (ages 2 and 5) moved into a semidetached Edwardian in London in January 2021, his thinking changed.
“I believe that, as humans, we acclimate almost immediately to whatever our surroundings are, and that drastically affects us mentally,” explains Jafari. He didn’t want to spend creative energy worrying about his home’s potential negative impact. The couple hit the ground running with the help of Lionel Real de Azúa, cofounder of architecture and interior design firm Red Deer, whom they had worked with on a previous hospitality project.
The house, spanning three floors and five bedrooms, was much larger than the family’s previous digs, so the struggle was keeping things cozy while still making the most of the open floor plan. Jafari was drawn to the way each space Real de Azúa touched was dynamic and unique. The designer abandoned cohesiveness in favor of channeling specific emotions for each room—the front sitting area coaxes you to tap into your scholarly side; the primary bedroom is calming; and the dining room encourages coming together as a family.
The family room, a long space that opens to both the kitchen and back garden, evokes memories of a favorite trip to Tulum, Mexico, but is twisted to fit the European architecture. “We looked at Tulum, then found its closest continental comparison—Mykonos,” says Jafari. The area rug, kitchen cabinets, and painted fireplace subtly pull from the signature blue and white shades of Greece.
It’s a space that needed to be as kid-friendly as possible, but structured enough for the odd 5 p.m. conference call. Jafari’s favorite element is a row of sliding barn doors that can block off the kitchen and dining room whenever he and his wife need a little quiet from the cartoons.
Mornings, though, are a more peaceful time, and Jafari wanted to make the most of the natural light the backyard gets while drinking his coffee. So the connected patio is covered in a glass ceiling in order to protect the loungers from London’s inevitable rain showers. “I feel like I’m in a different place every time I’m out there,” he says.
However, not every design decision has a clear “why,” like the teal circular bathtub in the primary bathroom. “It’s the least practical thing, but look at it—we fell in love,” says Jafari, laughing. They may not be able to straighten their legs when they sit in it, or be fully submerged, but it doesn’t matter. The same goes for installing a minuscule, sideways-oriented sink in the powder room or prioritizing indoor-outdoor living in a country with near constant drizzle. They may not be incredibly practical, but they’re a reflection of Jafari’s style.
The one choice that did have ample motivation, though, was the abundance of open shelving rather than closed storage. “I like shelves because they act like this 3-D, interactive art piece,” he explains. “There’s also something great about displaying exactly what makes you you.” For Jafari, that’s collections of design books, abstract ceramic vases, and lots of glassware. The darker spaces (like the sitting room and primary bathroom) have the most ledges in an effort to lean into their cocoon-like feel, while brighter spaces (the bedrooms and living room) have less on the walls to preserve that sense of airiness.
It’s all about finding ways to engage the senses—take the enveloping, all-teal sitting room. “This room is where I meditate every morning, so it needed to feel focused but still relaxed,” Jafari explains. The deep hues are a nod to old Scottish estates, but Jafari’s family isn’t that buttoned-up, so the humorous portraits (and a canary yellow velvet armchair) add a playful energy. “People are so worried about making bold moves, whether that’s with color or artwork or furniture,” says Jafari. “Many are going to ask why you chose something, so why not have a compelling answer?”