Buy Of The Week: Notting Hill

Colour clashes and Moorish accessories inspire this elegant West London house. Mary Wilson reports
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The Independent Online

Pinks and reds: it's an unusual colour combination but one that makes the boldest of statements. And Julie Lewis, the owner of this corner house in Notting Hill's Blenheim Crescent, admits to loving the clash. The façade of the house is painted in the palest pink with a red front door - quite unlike any other property on the crescent.

Julie and her husband Frank have lived in Notting Hill for 14 years, and bought this house in 1997. They were initially put off because it had no garden, though it did have an enormous roof terrace. "But when we were doing the house up, we moved out for a while into a house with a communal garden. We thought it would be fun, but everyone was so nosy and neighbours would just walk into our kitchen uninvited," says Julie.

The couple was impressed by how bright the property was inside. "The light is amazing as you go up," Julie says. "But it had been owned by a ceramicists' agent and was very bland with lots of neutral beige colours. It badly needed decorating, but we did it slowly, working from the top down over several years, making a few structural alterations on the way".

Julie worked in retail, but is now involved with Frank's new venture in the music business. Having worked as an investment banker for 23 years, he has launched his own production company, F&J Music, and is managing a new band, Gear, which is soon to launch its first album and tour with the legendary punk band the Buzzcocks.

She is also involved with the Alice Temperley fashion label, and imports and distributes Havaianas flip-flops. "The whole house has been inspired by my travels more than anything else," she says. The couple were married in Morocco, one of their favourite countries, and there are Moroccan artefacts throughout, especially on the roof terrace.

The conservatory on the terrace is decked out in Moorish style, with bright cushions and intricate metalware on the walls. "We had the floor done in sparkly pink concrete," Julie says. "But I got bored of it and we put down decking instead".

The most fun feature on the terrace is the open-air shower, which they all use on hot days. "Frank showered there every morning in the summer, when he worked in the City. Even my grandmother has used it. It's very private - no one can see you, unless they've got binoculars," she says.

Julie explains that each floor has been designed to have a different effect on one's mood - so the lower floor, now a kitchen/family room, is painted in calm watery colours. There are five different shades of turquoise on the walls, subtly applied so that the variations don't jump out at you, and most of the appliances, including a Siemens range, are stainless steel. Nice touches include a glass-clad pillar - "I always catch people checking their make-up in it!" - and the etched windows.

At first, this floor was used as a flat by the au pair, but as there was a tiny kitchen on the floor above, it made sense to turn the basement into a spacious kitchen. At one end of the room is the den, where their four children, aged four, nine, 10 and 16, can listen to music or watch TV. "We also put in a new staircase with glass sides to bring in more light," says Julie. Outside there's a patio, where the family sit in summer.

The raised ground floor (there are 11 steep stone steps up to the front door) is far more dramatic. The dining-room walls are painted a deep red, inspired by a favourite Parisian hotel, the Hotel Costes, and in the drawing room the walls are covered in a metallic glaze made up of eight layers of alternating silver and gold. The glass-drop chandelier is bright pink (a recent Christmas present) and the reproduction furniture has red, pink and yellow velvet coverings.

The hall, which is painted in pinks, oranges and reds, was inspired by a Veuve Clicquot presentation box. "I took the box to Dulux and they copied the colours," says Julie. "But a buyer would only need to paint the house white to get back to a more traditional look. All the original period features, the cornices, banisters and shutters, are there."

As you walk up the stairs, the colour of the wall and carpet changes halfway to shades of purple, introducing a boudoir feel to the second floor, home to the couple's bedroom, bathroom and dressing room. The bedroom has a glazed ceiling in gold, silver and pink, and washed turquoise cupboard doors, while the bathroom, which has a free-standing Victorian-style bath, is green and gold.

Up the next flight of stairs, the colours become calmer. There are four bedrooms - three pink ones for the girls and their son's room in turquoise. With another baby on the way, the Lewises are selling up to spend more time in Somerset, where they have rented a house for five years and where the children now all go to school. "We'll miss this house, but I'm sure whatever we buy in the country will end up just as colourful as this one," says Julie.

The house is for sale for £3.4m, but it is the biggest in the road, and it is what you would expect to pay for a five-bedroom house in Notting Hill. In nearby Clarendon Road, Robbie Williams sold his 5,000-sq ft house last year for £7m.

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