Home Truths: An eye for the austere

Cheryl Markosky meets Candia Lutyens, designer and granddaughter of Sir Edwin Lutyens

Designer Candia Lutyens lives in a late 19th-century, six-bedroom villa in Putney, south-west London, with husband Paul Petersen, an architect who works with her in Lutyens Design Associates, and their two children

We moved from The Redcliffes in south-west London where we had a four-bedroom maisonette with no outside space, to our new home, further out in Putney. We have two children and the trip around the Serpentine got boring. There are great schools in Putney, which helped us make up our minds.

"We fell in love with this classic south London redbrick villa built in 1895, which is right for the Lutyens period. We bought it, 100 years after it was built, at Easter 1995. At the time it was a huge psychological leap for my husband. He said, 'You mean you want me to go south of the river?' But Putney has everything you want and it is easy to get to Waterloo from here. Although we have a showroom in Knightsbridge, the house has become a showcase of sorts, too. The whole business emerged 15 years ago when we wanted chairs for ourselves. We realised it was not practical making chairs just for us. So my husband gave up his job to see what he could do with the Lutyens archive of drawings and that was how it all began. We really needed the ceiling heights and floor plan in this house to show off the furniture and lighting to its best effect.

"It took us three years to do up the house, as nothing had been done since 1972 – a period where everything had been boxed in or ripped out. It took a lot of time getting it right. Clients would visit and it was a complete building site. I remember Dustin Hoffman coming round with his producer Barry Levinson to look at furniture and my daughter was screaming and the builder insisted on shaking hands with Hoffman.

"We have four principal rooms downstairs that have been completely furnished by us. I love the formal sitting room. Although it is austere in some respects, we have taken the Lutyens idiom and aesthetic and made it practical. The study has filing cabinets as well as bookcases, which in his day he obviously would not have had.

"The Tuscan columns in the kitchen lend it a pleasing geometry, and we have contrasted that with a beautiful but workable breakfast table. We often use the original Lutyens and Lutyens-inspired pieces, as this is not a museum. My daughter does her homework on the dining-room table, for instance. Although the house is completely lived in and used, we can tidy it and turn it into a showroom when we need to.

"I love the central dining room. The house has interesting circular shapes and this space shows them off well. We don't often eat there but like to use it as a place to read the Sunday papers. It is great sitting there with a mug of coffee and having a chat in the central circular area surrounded by funky arches.

"The colour scheme is strong, with black cloth on the study walls and a perfect and correct Wedgwood blue in the dining room. Strong, simple ochres blend well with brown wrapping-paper wallpaper. Lutyens hated pattern and the trick is to varnish the walls with a proper art varnish. There is no way chintz will find its way into the house. Instead, we have simple linen curtains and pale rugs on wooden floors.

"I worked in the City for years, but have always felt I had the Lutyens design genes. I am able to do it and understand it. I think it is all about having a good eye and I'm told I am good with colour. Contemporary is very big at the moment and it mixes easily with timeless pieces by Lutyens. A single piece of Lutyens furniture works well in a contemporary scheme and it is very flexible. It doesn't date, the lines are very strong and classical. Techno-funk contemporary is very 'in' at the moment, but it will pass. Maybe it is popular because it is easy to do for less money.

"I own several original Lutyens items and I know I am very lucky, but it has been part of my upbringing. Ironically, Lutyens never built his own house and several Lutyens-style houses are now being built in the United States and someone is keen to build one in Oxford. It is nice to have an eclectic mix, really, and our furniture works just as well in a modern setting.

"Sadly, we are leaving the house, as we plan to move to France. We have moved the day-to-day business to Knightsbridge and will buy a flat near the shop. I will miss Putney a lot, as the High Street has become better and better over the years. It was quite sleazy when we first arrived – there were only six or seven shops that all had gambling fruit-machines. Now there is a Starbucks on every corner, The Exchange shopping centre and really good restaurants like the new one at Putney Wharf.

"This is a good family house and perfect for walks in Richmond Park and on Wimbledon Common, both within a 10-minute drive. There are lots of trees, greenery and the river. I am essentially the only direct descendant of Lutyens left, and I think people who know about Lutyens are pleased with what I have created here."

Candia Lutyens' house is for sale (offers over £1.8 million) through Friend & Falcke, 020-8878 4942, or Foxtons 020-8355 1000; www.lutyens-furniture.com

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
O'Toole as Cornelius Gallus in ‘Katherine of Alexandria’
filmSadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Life and Style
fashion
Property search
Property search
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior DBA (SQL Server, T-SQL, SSIS, SSAS) London - Finance

£30000 - £33000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior DBA (SQ...

Business Anaylst

£60000 - £75000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: Business Anal...

Senior Project Manager

£60000 - £90000 per annum + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Global leading Energy Tra...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment