“The bones were there,” David says. “It’s a beautiful old house with large rooms, so not much space planning was required, except in the bathrooms and kitchen, which had not been upgraded. The clients wanted it to be homely, but also have areas for more formal entertaining, and for it to be a showcase of art and beautiful pieces. They requested no specific items or colours, just that we modernise but stay in keeping with the grand nature of this magnificent house.”
That imposing home knows how to make an entrance – you walk into a commodious, panelled hallway, complete with a fireplace and coffered ceiling. To the left are a formal living area, study and TV room, while to the right are the formal dining and open-plan living and dining areas and kitchen. Directly in front is a triple-arched loggia, soaking up views of the established garden. The sweeping stairs lead to six bedrooms (one serving as a generous wardrobe and dressing room), a roof terrace and four bathrooms.
David knocked out walls in the bathrooms to enlarge them and remodelled the kitchen. Other rooms, bar one (more on that later), were “a blank canvas”, to which he added his highly individual brushstrokes. David introduced panelling, mouldings and wallpaper in select rooms to reinstate the grandeur that had been diminished by previous renovations.
Existing parquetry floors throughout were sanded and stained, and the walls painted a crisp, warm white to serve as a backdrop for the richly hued and patterned furnishings he would later add.
For the decoration, David took cues from the architecture of the house. “We wanted something grand and impressive, but in a homely way,” he says. “We also wanted an international feel, as this house could be in LA, Italy or France.”
A palette of materials and furnishings was chosen to reflect this vibe. Accordingly, David sourced from all over the world, including New York, LA and Paris, to create “a unique and eclectic scheme”. This international layering has created a palette of fabrics, wallpapers, furniture and lighting that suits this unique house, such as the Italian mid-century Guglielmo Veronesi armchairs bought in LA and upholstered in contemporary rippled Kelly Wearstler fabric.
The colour palette is “fairly monochromatic in a silver and cream layering with punches of bold graphic for texture and depth”, he says. But David amped up the depth in the informal living area, main bedroom and study, introducing warmer, darker tones for a “sanctuary feel”.
Texture, too, forms an integral part in David’s signature layering and adds to the sense of comfort. “There is a big play on texture, from the micro – shagreen wallpaper and intricately detailed fabrics – to the macro – bold statement lighting, vases, wall sculptures and mirrors. I love to layer patterns with smooth, rough, shiny and matt, as it creates a synergy and tension at the same time.”
Mindful that the large rooms could have swallowed smaller pieces, David played with scale in his furniture selection and often relied on custom-made options to solve this design dilemma – witness the marble coffee table and the sofas in the formal living room, and the ottomans and ebony cabinet in the informal living.
“I love the house and everything in it,” David says. “It is curated, but homely, a truly decadent home without being flashy or ostentatious. Beautiful spaces curated with materials, art, furniture and lighting from around the world flow in harmony.” One room, however, will never receive the Hicks treatment – the more traditional formal dining room, which remains poignantly different from the other spaces.
“Completed by the late Stuart Rattle, this room was retained in the existing style of the house,” David explains. “We wanted to keep this room as a homage to him and his work.”