This London Flat’s Terrace Is No Secret, But the Primary Bathroom Is
Plus the closet doors are hidden by wallpaper.
Published Aug 19, 2023 1:15 AM
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London has long been a special place for North Carolina–based couple Bill and Sue. He fell in love with the city first. After traveling to England as a child and later as an adult for work, Bill bought his first flat 15 years ago. Then, after the pair met, Sue fell fast, too. “It’s where we got engaged, celebrated numerous holidays, and had our wedding,” she shares. Now their 9-year-old daughter, Josie, is hooked (they’ve been bringing her there for summer visits since she was a toddler). “She’s become quite familiar with navigating the city. She truly feels at home in London,” adds Sue.
It only made sense that when it came time to decorate their three-bedroom pied-à-terre overlooking Hyde Park that they hire designers who are not only locals but exude cozy, quintessentially British style in every soft paint color, floral trim, and patinated hardware that they choose. Nicole Salvesen and Mary Graham, who together run the firm Salvesen Graham, delivered.
“This is a different aesthetic than anything they’d experienced before,” notes Salvesen. It’s not at all like their home in Greensboro, which is notably much more neutral. After some convincing, the couple was game for anything, including upholstering all the walls in the guest bedroom in the same green fabric that adorns the space’s roman shades, even though they feared the result could be dizzying. “Sometimes when you have all that pattern in one go, it can seem full on. But actually, it’s very calming and cocooning,” explains Salvesen. Josie’s bedroom got a similar treatment plus the addition of a built-in daybed—a go-to spot for getting in some screen time (there’s a small TV located in the niche) and squeezing in overflow guests.
Once tucked away in a galley, the kitchen is seamlessly one with the dining and living room. But because of its high visibility and lower usage (most nights, they prefer to take advantage of the local restaurant scene—lately in Marylebone), Salvesen Graham dialed it back from a focal point to a decorative backdrop. The brass grill cabinet fronts cleverly disguise dishes; the marble backsplash features intricate carvings. “It’s a place you want to hang out in while you make a drink or have breakfast,” says Salvesen. Even the adjacent pantry-slash-coatroom didn’t go unnoticed. The designers jazzed up the ceiling with a custom metal and glass panel and covered the electrical access with a beaded door.
When they do eat in, everyone heads upstairs to the terrace (weather permitting). “Our outdoor speakers add an element of fun to the evenings, particularly when I take the role of DJ,” says Sue, who was recently pleasantly surprised to discover that one of their English friends is a big Dolly Parton fan. Although, when there is a concert playing in Hyde Park, she’ll turn down the volume so they can listen to the likes of Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen in real time.
For as much as Sue loves exploring the city, lately, whenever Graham or Salvesen text her to see what she’s been up to, she admits she’s at the apartment. The hardest room to leave is hands down the primary bedroom, where the walls are swathed entirely in a de Gournay print. “That bedroom had the opportunity to look like there were seven doors coming off of it. We wanted to streamline it,” recalls Salvesen of their decision to continue the wallpaper treatment across every single surface, resulting in a secret bathroom moment.
From their tub, Sue can reach up and grab a classic of her choosing—a sweet surprise her designers left behind. “It’s been an engaging pastime,” she shares. To bring the Britishness full circle, Salvesen Graham introduced Bill and Sue to seasoned art consultant Rebecca Gordon, who helped them source a collection of works by such artists as Chris Levine, Loran Robertson, James Hart Dyke, Kate Giles, and Hunt and Hope.
Much like with the stone backsplash in the kitchen, the marble around the tub features intricate curves and cuts that echo the shape of the mirrors above. “When you’re in a home that’s got those details, you almost feel looked after, just by them being around you,” says Salvesen.