Whiter than white

Judith Wilson's ultra-neutral home makes an ideal setting for film shoots, says Nick Lloyd Jones
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Situated in a quiet residential area behind Olympia and a short stroll from Holland Park, Judith Wilson's four-bedroom terraced house in Gratton Road, near west London's Brook Green, combines Edwardian grandeur with the aesthetics of modern minimalism.

Situated in a quiet residential area behind Olympia and a short stroll from Holland Park, Judith Wilson's four-bedroom terraced house in Gratton Road, near west London's Brook Green, combines Edwardian grandeur with the aesthetics of modern minimalism.

The house's special character has led to it being frequently featured in film location shoots - to which it is ideally suited, thanks to its deliberately neutral colour schemes and uncluttered furnishing. This understated charm is perfectly executed and hardly surprising, considering Judith's pedigree as an interior design guru; she's the author of more than half-a-dozen books on the subject and a regular contributor to House & Garden magazine. She writes under her maiden name, Wilson, but has been married for many years to the architectural metalwork specialist Anthony Culmer, with whom she has two children - Cicely, 10, and Felix, seven. The couple, both in their forties, love the area and have been living there for almost 20 years.

They started off in a flat around the corner in Hazlitt Road but, when their children came along, they moved to a house in Masbro Road and then, seven years ago, to this larger one. They were attracted to Gratton Road for a number of reasons. "It's great," says Judith. "We're within easy walking distance of High Street Kensington, yet at the same time we're tucked away in this peaceful little residential cul-de-sac which most people don't even realise exists.'

They were drawn, too, by its spaciousness, especially the high ceilings and the fact that it still retains all its original Edwardian features - deep skirting boards, elegant cornices and the terracotta, brown and ochre tessellated floor in the hall.

They also recognised its enormous potential; every inch of space was used to best effect. The grotty cellar was divided up to make way for a utility room and spare shower unit; the attic was transformed into an attractive bedroom loft conversion, with light streaming in through Velux windows.

The ground floor was given a complete overhaul. To the rear of the house, accessed by the narrow hallway passage, had been a small dining room and kitchenette. The kitchen was dispensed with entirely to make way for extra garden space, while Anthony transformed the dining room into a glass-panelled mini-conservatory.

The bay-windowed sitting room and back bedroom were knocked through to create a spacious walk-through kitchen and dining area running the full length of the house, with a pair of French windows opening on to the back garden. The original floorboards were retained, but they were sanded, treated with white oil and scrubbed with Swedish soap to achieve a washed-out effect. The modern radiators were ripped out and replaced with chunky Victorian column radiators that Anthony picked up for a song from a scrap merchant.

Choosing suitable kitchen units posed a problem because of the incredibly high ceilings, but Judith solved this by fixing up double layers of Italian-designed square cupboards. The dining area to the back of the kitchen was sparsely furnished with a simple table and a set of functional, child-proof chairs.

A flight of sisal-covered stairs leads up to the first-floor sitting room, which used to occupy two rooms but was knocked through by a previous owner. "Most people prefer to reserve their first floors for bedrooms," says Judith, "but we prefer having two whole floors of living space in which we can sprawl out. Cicely can be practising her piano at one end, Anthony and Felix can be playing with their computer at the other, and there's still room for me lounging around in an armchair with my nose in a book."

The bay-windowed master bedroom, carpeted in a neutral oatmeal and painted in a shade of mushroom pink, takes up the whole of the front of the second floor and has again been created by knocking two rooms through into one. Judith and Anthony are not looking forward to moving out of the house; but with the children switching to schools in Putney and Wimbledon, moving south of the river has become the obvious next step. "It's sad," says Judith, "And we know we are really going to miss the place. If only we could somehow magically transfer the house to Barnes and add a little bit more garden, we'd do it like a shot."

Gratton Road, London W14, is for sale through Bective Leslie Marsh (020-7603 5181) for £875,000

'Private Places' by Judith Wilson is published next month by Jacqui Small, £20

Comments