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Tour a Painterly London Home That Looks Like It Could Be in Paris

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A homeowner who is eager and willing to take risks isn’t always a given, but when it came to one pied-à-terre project, London-based design firm Maddux Creative hit the jackpot. The clients, a Los Angeles−based couple with two 20-something daughters, were looking for a chic canvas to display their growing collection of contemporary art. Located in a 1920s building in London’s Marylebone neighborhood, the two-bedroom apartment was replete with period details, such as original moldings and parquet flooring.

“We had some amazing features to work with that provide a sense of timelessness and character,” says Scott Maddux, an architect who has been focusing on interiors since he relocated to London nearly three decades ago. “Both the floors, which we sanded down for a bare-looking finish, and the Haussmannian-style panel moldings feel very Parisian. Throughout the residence, we played with the idea of not being able to tell if something was original or new. The homeowners are quite adventurous, so they were receptive to more artistic ideas.”

Indeed, creative solutions abound in this home away from home. “The clients were slowly building their art collection and we weren’t sure how long the walls would be blank, so we took the opportunity to do something interesting,” explains Maddux, who collaborated on the project with the firm’s cofounder, Joanna Le Gleud, a textile designer turned decorator. For example, in the main room—which contains both sitting and dining areas—the designers used a subtle combination of paint shades to layer shapes over the existing wall paneling. “We were inspired by the artist Ben Nicholson and the way he layers color,” Maddux says. “It takes a minute to realize that there’s a gradual transition around the room. And, because it’s not so obvious, the homeowners won’t grow bored of it.”

Maddux and Le Gleud experimented with another color technique in the adjoining library, which can be closed off from the main living space with sliding glass doors. In this cozy sitting room, three different shades of green highlight the original wall moldings. “We loved the way the sunlight moves through this space, and this technique almost looks like shadows rather than paint,” Maddux says. “I think the original details in both rooms feel a bit more modern now.”

In addition to a petite galley kitchen and two bedrooms, there are two en suite baths and a powder room overflowing with drama. For the powder room, Maddux and Le Gleud conceived a unique sketch-like mural that extends onto the vanity itself. And in each of the en suite baths, an intricate mosaic floor inspired by Jean Cocteau murals takes center stage. “There is a mosaic on the front step of the building and beautiful stained glass in the staircase, so we wanted to pull those colors and details into the interior as a nod to the 1920s,” Maddux explains. “The floor pattern sort of dances around the objects in the room. We are so lucky that the clients wanted to go on a playful journey with us.”

When it came to furnishing the apartment, the designers were careful not to overfill the rooms, creating sophisticated spaces that could work with any of the clients’ latest art acquisitions. “We didn’t design around specific works,” Maddux says. “Instead, we focused on creating an interesting envelope that wouldn’t overpower their artwork.” A mix of bespoke, contemporary, and vintage pieces with clean lines and simple yet interesting forms “play off each other like characters in a play,” Maddux continues. “These clients enjoy a sense of free space, and we didn’t want it to feel overly finished. It’s all about taking fewer pieces with meaning and pulling them together in an interesting way. Finding that harmonious balance is when the magic happens.”

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