Dominic Bradbury, Journalist & Writer


Fashion designer Jenny Packham knows how to make an entrance. The hallway of her Victorian home in Hampstead, North London, is one of her favourite spaces in the whole house, with its silvery Art Deco monkey wallpaper by de Gournay, bespoke floor tiles inspired by Bauhaus artist Anni Albers and a striking night club style mirror with a neon pink frame. It’s the kind of entrance that instantly indicates a sense of sophisticated playfulness and suggests that something rather unusual is happening behind the genteel period façade.

‘I love coming in through the front door and into the hallway,’ says Packham, whose client list for her glamorous evening wear collection includes the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Winslet and Angelina Jolie. ‘Sometimes halls can be quite bland spaces but for me it’s quite exciting to walk into the house – I love the tiles and the wallpaper. It’s a great start.’

The design of the four storey house was a collaboration between Packham and interior architect, Richard Dewhurst. It’s a look rooted in a vibrant use of colour, pattern and texture – as you might expect from a fashion designer – mixed with influences from the 1930s and the ‘70s. Key references include legendary American interior decorator Dorothy Draper, artist Victor Vaserely and David Hicks, with a geometric Hicks carpet in a bespoke colourway leading on from that statement hallway and ascending the stairs.

Packham, her life and business partner Matthew Anderson and their two teenage daughters – Georgia and Isabella - have lived in different parts of North London for many years. The family had been interested in another house just a few doors down and were disappointed when the deal to buy it fell through. But then around a year later, in 2008, Packham spotted a second chance.

‘I remember walking up this road with a friend of mine and saying if I could live anywhere, then this is where I would love to live,’ she says. ‘It is the perfect location for us. So I was devastated when the we lost the first house and it was really fortunate that I came across this when I was searching on the internet one night.’

With their office and studio just a walk away and the girls’ school nearby, as well as Hampstead Heath, the setting is ideal. Packham was also rather pleased that the house was in definite need of some work, instead of being tempted to leave the building as it was. As well as a few structural issues that needed dealing with, the kitchen had been positioned at the front of the house, the extension to the rear was poorly designed and the house felt rather claustrophobic. The family lived in the house as it was for just over a year, considering the redesign.

‘Matthew and I really do love a project,’ says Packham, who launched her first collection back in 1988 and now has a London bridal store, ready to wear shops in London and Paris, as well as showrooms, concessions and stockists around the world. ‘With our ready to wear shop in Mount Street, we had to take out this huge bank vault before we could do anything, which was a big project. But we are not frightened of a challenge and did the shops and our old house before this.

‘What’s important is that you enjoy the process. Some people hate having builders and doing all the work, but if you do actually enjoy the process it can be a fun thing to do. We were not daunted by it.’

Packham was also able to draw upon the experience of many years of working closely with Dewhurst. They have been collaborating on the design of stores and showrooms since 2004 and have got to understand one another’s tastes and preferences perfectly. It is clearly a highly creative and rewarding combination. They were first introduced by designer Ou Baholyodhin, who Dewhurst used to work for before setting up on his own.

‘I have always had other projects running in tandem with my work for Jenny but she has been a very important part of my development as a designer,’ says Dewhurst. We work as a team. Whether it’s a shop or the house, we have always worked closely on every element of the job.’

Packham and Dewhurst decided to reorder the ground floor, removing the dividing wall between front and back to create an open living space with plenty of natural light. But the key priority was creating a living room and adjoining dining area that was full of character and personality. Dewhurst used a denim blue grass cloth wallpaper on the walls to tie the space together, while rugs in a strong geometric pattern went on the floors. The Liberty sofas are complimented by a 1970s coffee table and mid-century lighting, individually sourced. The dining table is a 1970s design by Superstudio, while the bookcases and console units either side of the fireplace were designed by Dewhurst, who looked after planning, interior architecture and detailing, project management and also designed a number of pieces of furniture for the house.

‘The main aim was to create a home that her family feel very comfortable in and reflects their personality,’ says Dewhurst. ‘Jenny was really the driving force behind the overall look but it evolved through discussion. There was no set agenda from the start.’

The kitchen was moved into a new extension, designed by Dewhurst, at the back of the house. This was where Matthew, the cook of the house, got much more involved with the creation of a bespoke and more masculine space pushing out into the garden. Brick walls, Critall windows, a timber ceiling and custom kitchen units are softened by the greenery of the garden itself, which wraps around the rear addition.

‘The one thing that we all agreed on for the extension was that we didn’t want a glazed cube or a white box,’ Dewhurst says. ‘We wanted to add something that had a slightly different aesthetic to the rest of the house and took our cue from 1930s industrial architecture.’

Up on the first floor, the master bedroom is a much more feminine space – graced again with a de Gournay wallpaper, this time with a glamorous chinoiserie pattern. The bathroom, too, has a 1930s flavour, partly inspired by the Art Deco bathrooms of Claridge’s and period hotels.

Packham and her partner were content to wait to find the right pieces of art and furniture to finish the house, rather than rushing to get it done. ‘I do like collecting and finding things and I believe that you should buy what you like and hopefully it will all fit together,’ she says. ‘We were willing to wait for the right pieces to come along. If you buy pieces that you respect and think are a great design, then you are not going to get fed up with them.’

Packham sees some echoes of her fashion work in the house and especially cross pollination from the look of her stores. And now that the house is finally done, the pleasure was such that another project could be a real temptation.

‘After we finished I said that I would never move again,’ says Packham. ‘But now I find that I do miss doing it all. So maybe I can see it happening again at some point. It really was so enjoyable.’


Richard Dewhurst –
Jenny Packham –

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