Hidden gem: a jeweller’s remodelled terrace in west London | Interiors

From the outside, Marisa Hordern’s Edwardian terrace in London’s north Kensington looks just like any other on the street. A tiled path leads up to a grey front door with two clipped olive trees standing outside the red brick facade. “I like seeing people’s reactions when they come in,” says Hordern, the founder and creative director of Missoma, a jewellery label that started life around her kitchen table 16 years ago. “Inside, it really is quite different from what you might expect…”

The best decision I made was to remove the wall between the hallway and the front room. It has transformed the spaceMarisa Hordern

Hordern moved from a nearby maisonette five years ago. At the time, she was single and approaching her 40th birthday. “I decided it was time to lay down some proper roots and buy a house,” says Hordern. “The street is full of young families, and I remember my neighbours asking: ‘Where’s your husband? Where’s your partner? Where are your kids?’ I did feel a little bit like the odd one out, but this was just something I wanted to do for myself. Sometimes you just need to stop waiting for things to happen and do it yourself. I’m a big believer in that.”

The house Hordern purchased was “good from far, but far from good”. The previous owners had extended into the small garden, but “finished everything cheaply”. In hindsight, Hordern thinks she should have bought an identical house for sale a few doors down: “It was much cheaper because it needed completely gutting – which is what I ended up doing here anyway.”

Sitting pretty: artworks, objets and a large sofa reupholstered in a rich, saturated shade of blue combine in this cosy corner. Photograph: Rachael Smith/The Observer

On the ground floor, Hordern wanted to flood the space with natural light and create a “zen, minimalist environment”. Significant structural changes were needed to shift the space away from its pokey, Edwardian past life. “The best decision I made was to remove the wall between the hallway and the front room,” says Hordern. “It has completely transformed the living space.” The wall has been replaced with internal Crittall glazing that allows light to filter through to the entrance way.

Hordern also increased the height of all the doors on the ground floor. “It’s an expense, but it’s worth it because it lets more light through, and it makes everything feel so much bigger,” she says. Another significant change was the position of the kitchen. What was a dark and formal living room at the front of the house has been turned into a gleaming and glamorous kitchen that flows seamlessly into the dining area, living space and garden beyond.

Period features have been decisively removed. The Edwardian fireplaces, for example, were in the wrong position and the wooden staircase was too heavy for Hordern’s clear, minimalist vision. A contemporary wood and glass replacement now reaches up to the eaves, where she has created an additional bathroom and generous storage.

This picture tells a story: Marisa Hordern and her Victor Vasarely print. Photograph: Rachael Smith/The Observer

Hordern spent a mere three and a half months radically reimagining the interiors. (“I like to get shit done,” she says, simply.) She has since embellished the space with a combination of vintage design pieces, unusual objets and “a few key talking points” such as the kaleidoscopic Patricia Urquiola rug in the living room and the marble kitchen island. “I’ve collected gemstones since I was five years old, so getting the marble right was super-important to me,” says Hordern. At the stone merchants, her magpie eye was immediately drawn to a distinctive, pistachio-patterned marble that now acts as a sculptural centrepiece. The rest of the kitchen was made from affordable, white-gloss cabinetry.

The pastel green strata of the marble is picked up by a pair of 1940s velvet green armchairs in the living room which face a generous sofa reupholstered in a rich, saturated shade of blue. The living area looks out on to an enclosed garden which is lit up in the evening. “The lights in the garden really make that view,” says Hordern. Uplighters highlight the trees and wall lights draw the eye down towards the garden studio. “The garden lighting makes the house feel so much more homely and romantic,” says Hordern.

Pastel green strata: the marble kitchen island. Photograph: Rachael Smith/The Observer

Above the kitchen island hangs an intricately woven Murano glass light she bought from Lillie Road 15 years ago, while in the bedroom, a pair of shapely, teal Murano lamps flank the bed. Organic glass vessels and unusual ceramics – including a group of hand-crafted ceramic sea-anemones – adorn every surface. “I think it’s nice to show someone your character through your belongings,” says Hordern. “Like jewellery, I think of my objets as accessories: they are the bits that add flavour.”

Art is another important storyteller for Hordern. Behind her bespoke dining table is a geometric print by Victor Vasarely. “I love to collect things that help you remember where you were and who you were with,” Hordern explains. This print was bought from the Vasarely museum in Aix-en-Provence the day after her husband proposed to her. “It was an amazing weekend and the print now takes pride of place in our home, because it represents our memory of that moment,” she says.

Shine on: a mirrored storage unit in the main bedroom. Photograph: Rachael Smith/The Observer

Hordern met her husband a year after moving into her new home and the couple are now expecting their first baby. Hordern is looking forward to decorating the nursery, although she already has the sense that it won’t stay the same for long. “This is definitely not our forever home,” she admits. “I already want to do everything in a completely different style, with a different colour scheme – different everything!” No doubt the hunt is already on for another fixer-upper – a rough cut diamond to polish and perfect.


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