Visit this small Edwardian maisonette with Parisian flair

Entering Alexandra Cox's home, a three-bedroom Edwardian terraced maisonette in south London, is a bit like falling down the rabbit hole in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Once the front door is closed, a moment of surprise awaits the visitor. A steep and narrow staircase leads to a ground floor bathed in colour with soft pink walls and woodwork, while doors lead to rooms with unexpected design statements, from the striking floral wallpaper by House of Hackney in the living/dining area to the deep blue decor in the guest bedroom.

Every room in this tall, narrow home was carefully considered. To achieve the dramatic final effect, Alexandra worked closely with interior designer Kristen Georghiades of Rose & George Design, who helped her transform the unusually proportioned duplex into a dream space where Alexandra can relax and work from home, welcoming a steady stream of family and friends.

a seating area with sofa and floral wallpaper

Interior designer Kristen Georghiades of Rose & George used opulent velvet curtains and a glass chandelier to create a decadent Parisian salon feel Brent Darby

“The feel of a home is so important,” says Kristen. “I always talk to my clients about places, eras and styles they love that we can bring into the design. Alexandra has a great sense of fun and is drawn to a feminine Parisian look. So we chose materials, colors and accents that reflected the feeling of that aesthetic and designed the home to give visitors a visual surprise at every turn.”

a room with dining table and chairsa room with dining table and chairs

Having made the offer to buy the house during her best friend's wedding on Kefalonia, Alexandra signed the papers just before the pandemic hit, so it was a challenging renovation. “I only lived in the house for a couple of months before moving out to live in a bubble with my family during lockdown,” she recalls. “Kristen and I had to courier samples to each other, discuss mood boards over Zoom and arrange swaps according to the guidelines that were current at the time.”

pink tiled back wall with hobpink tiled back wall with hob

Pink tiles create an eye-catching kitchen back wallBrent Darby

Luckily, she and Kristen were able to meet in person just before the first lockdown and have the house measured. This allowed them to create scaled drawings to create lighting plans, kitchen layout and interior design ideas without having to be on site. “Despite all the challenges and difficulties, the pandemic helped me embrace technology and taught me to work more flexibly and creatively,” says Kristen. “Now I'm happy to take on international jobs without having to worry about not being there in person.”

Kitchen with upcycled scaffolding shelves and opaque frosted glass windowKitchen with upcycled scaffolding shelves and opaque frosted glass window

Old scaffolding boards were converted into open shelves; the opaque frosted glaze on the window lets in light while providing privacyBrent Darby

Having previously lived in another maisonette in south-west London, which she co-owned with her sister and a friend, this was the first property where Alexandra could do exactly what she wanted. She brought only her bed, books and an art deco bar, giving Kristen free rein to choose materials and furniture that would suit her new home and lifestyle.

“Alexandra is such a warm and lively person – a great host with lots of family and friends – but it was important to her that the house functioned as both a home office and a retreat for alone time, but also a stylish place to receive guests and a great party room for entertaining,” says Kristen. “That's quite a combination for a small house!”

Wire shelf with glasses and enamel cans with flower motifWire shelf with glasses and enamel cans with flower motif

No structural work was required as the previous owners had already converted the loft and invested in fitted joinery, but the interior of the property was completely renovated. Kristen designed a new neutral-coloured Howdens kitchen to maximise storage space and conceal clutter.

Velux window and bed with pink bedding in the loft roomVelux window and bed with pink bedding in the loft room

A large Velux window brings light into the loft, where Kristen has combined soft pink walls with matching textiles for a soft, feminine feel.Brent Darby

A pink encaustic tile splashback from Best Tile is a pretty focal point, while a combination of cabinets and open shelving allowed Alexandra to display her favourite pieces while creating a curated and calm space. “I love entertaining but don't cook much,” she explains, “so I wanted the kitchen to be an extension of my living space and a beautiful space that felt connected to the rest of the house.”

A favourite artwork, Sir Gerald Kelly's 'Princess Saw Ohn Nyun', which belonged to Alexandra's grandparents, is now part of a gallery wall in the master bedroom, and its soft colour palette has influenced the shades used throughout the house. The design thread runs throughout the house, from Farrow & Ball's dusty pink Setting Plaster on the upstairs master bedroom walls to Little Greene's soft red 'Julie's Dream' in the kitchen and hallway, echoed in the pink roses of the living room's bold floral walls.

As a thoughtful detail, both the insides of the front and back doors were also painted in Setting Plaster. “A lot of people have asked me why I didn't paint the outside of my front door in that color too,” says Alexandra, “but I didn't want visitors to know what to expect when they came in, so I kept the outside monochrome and muted.”

Gallery wall with printGallery wall with print

A gallery wall includes Sir Gerald Kelly’s favourite print, which inspired the house’s colour palette Brent Darby

“Choosing a colour palette and using it throughout has helped to unify the spaces and works really well in a multi-level home,” adds Kristen. “Using the same tone on the walls and woodwork, including the architraves and skirting boards, helps to take the focus away from the lower ceiling heights and tight spaces.”

Dressing table and fabric stoolDressing table and fabric stool

Kristen created a dressing area in the corner of the master bedroom, taking advantage of the natural light from the French balconyBrent Darby

All flooring was replaced with Nina Burgess sisal herringbone carpet, which provides a tactile feel underfoot and a natural aesthetic. “Alexandra wanted the walls to speak for themselves,” explains Kristen, “so we kept the flooring neutral and added rugs for pattern and texture, placed at unexpected diagonal angles to suit our desire for a little non-conformist!”

a room with a blue bedspread, walls and fringe pendantsa room with a blue bedspread, walls and fringe pendants

Various shades of blue give the guest room a relaxed atmosphere, while a cleverly placed shelf in an alcove can be used as a dressing table or work area.Brent Darby

Once the house was to her liking, Alexandra turned her attention to the garden. “I love being outside, but the back door led onto a run-down patio, so I never went out,” she recalls. Alexandra found London-based firm HG Landscapes, who transformed the small plot into a beautiful Mediterranean-style entertaining space. “I chose timeless and low-maintenance materials and plants. I love the olive trees, which remind me of holidays abroad while also providing some privacy,” she says.

a room with a pink headboard and blue wallsa room with a pink headboard and blue walls

Despite the challenges that come with renovating during a global pandemic, Alexandra is very happy with the results. “I am thrilled with what Kristen has created for me and it has been a pleasure working with her. This is now a place where I can entertain guests and have fun, but also feel calm and content and escape from the world outside,” smiles Alexandra, who is already busy designing her latest project. It seems that the bathrooms are next in line to be remodeled in the style of the rest of this glamorous and hospitable home.

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