London-based decorator Scott Maddux never takes himself too seriously. "Design should be fun," he insists. "We're not saving lives or the planet. And it should be enjoyable for the clients, too." That was certainly the case for the owners of this six-bedroom mid-Victorian townhouse—a British financier, his Turkish-born wife, and two young boys. "Scott's always upbeat, always smiling," says the wife. "He has a positive response to everything."
The back garden, with hedges of boxwood and yew.
So perhaps it is fitting that the house has a comic link: It was once owned by former Monty Python member John Cleese. But celebrity was not what drew the clients to it. They were more enamored of its generous volumes and prime location.
Beech trees shade the cedar-walled back terrace; the sofas are upholstered in a Perennials fabric, and the marble-and-brass tables are custom designs.
"This is the best part of London," enthuses the wife of the home's siting near Holland Park. "It's vibrant. We've got three parks within a 10-minute walk, we're surrounded by communal gardens, and we have amazing schools. It's probably the best family living you can get in any city in the world."
The kitchen cabinetry by Plain English is painted in Pure Grey 6 by Papers and Paints, the 1955 pendant lights are by Serge Mouille, the wall tiles are by Neisha Crosland, and the floor is made of three types of limestone.
For the Tennessee-born Maddux and his British design partner, Jo leGleud, the project—on which they collaborated with the London architect Nathaniel Gee—provided both a blank canvas and the opportunity to try something new.
The entry hall stair runner is made of sari silk, the marble floor is custom, the sconces are a 1947 design by Gilbert Poillerat, and the artwork is by Patrick Heron.
The house's previous owners had very much adopted a minimalistic approach. There were simple baseboards, no wall moldings or cornices, and a largely white palette. "There wasn't any character to it," the wife recalls. "It felt so cold."
In the living room, an Art Deco games table purchased at an auction in Paris is surrounded by chairs by Kaare Klint. The vintage armchair is by Francis Jourdain, the 1950s pendant light is by Stilnovo; the sculpture in the corner is by Robert Adams, and the painting is by John Forrester.
"To have a house of such a grand scale without the constraints of historic features was a new challenge for us," says Maddux, whose firm had until then worked mostly on renovations of architectural-landmark buildings. They began by installing elegant new interior detailing inspired by the French Art Deco maestro Jean-Michel Frank.
In the dining room, vintage chairs by Afra and Tobia Scarpa for Maxalto surround a 1970s Paul Evans table; the Frank Lloyd Wright chair against the wall was made for the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, the pendant light is by Johanna Grawunder, the ceiling was painted by Isabelle Day, and the floor is parquet de Versailles.
"It made sense to nod to history without replicating it," Maddux says, "and his aesthetic works well with any style of furnishing." They added cornicing, gilding it in the dining room and painting it yellow and white in the library.
The master bath's vintage tub is from the Water Monopoly in London, and the shower stall is sheathed in Breccia di Massa and Vigaria Pink marbles.
"The hint of yellow there makes that room feel perpetually sunny, which in London you need," Maddux jokes. The classical vaulted openings of the belowground entry, meanwhile, were inspired by an ancient Byzantine mosaic, which the owners asked to be displayed there.
The table in the breakfast room is by Christophe Delcourt, the light fixture is by Hervé Van der Straeten, and the banquette is covered in a leather by Whistler; the Gio Ponti chair is upholstered in a Robert Allen fabric.
They also had a number of other desiderata, not the least of which was a request for diverse wall treatments. "We didn't just want plain paint," says the wife. "We wanted a background that had depth to it, but we were wary of wallpapering such large surfaces."
Instead, they opted for faux-painted parchment panels in the living room and Moroccan tadelakt in the breakfast room. The most beautiful effect, however, is certainly the plaster wall in the library, whose overlaid geometric motifs were derived from a bas-relief in the Dries Van Noten menswear store in Paris.
The library's 1940s painted table is one of a pair, the bench is by André Arbus, and the vase is by Marianna Kennedy; the plaster paneling is a custom design, and the abaca rug is by Stark.
Keen and eclectic collectors of both art and furniture, the couple had a number of diverse pieces they were intent on integrating into their home, among them two Peter Lanyon abstract canvases, a 1690s William & Mary chest, and a pair of Vilhelm Lauritzen light fixtures, now in the living room. The latter are favorites of Maddux. "When someone's walking upstairs, you hear them clink a bit," he says. "It makes a charming little sound." For new acquisitions, they were determined to avoid anything ubiquitous. Items that got past their stringent criteria include an Ico Parisi sofa in the living room and a Johanna Grawunder pendant light in the dining room.
The living room's custom sofa is upholstered in a Bruno Triplet silk, a midcentury chair from Blackman Cruz is covered in an Etro fabric, the cast-terrazzo stools are by Maddux Creative, the mirror is by Marianna Kennedy, and the paintings flanking it are by Peter Lanyon.
Another element the brief called for was exuberant color, which can most notably be seen in the pistachio-hued serpentine sofa in the living room and the ceiling fresco in the dining room, inspired by the work of English modernist painter Ben Nicholson. It was created by artist Isabelle Day, who is involved in most of Maddux's projects. "She's our secret weapon," he says. "A gentle soul who works her magic to finesse everything."
The bed in the master bedroom is upholstered in a fabric from Tissus d'Hélène in London, the 1930s French chairs are covered in an André du Dauphiné velvet, and the pelmet and walls are covered in a C&C Milano fabric; the pendant light, one of a pair, is 1950s Murano glass, and the rug is a midcentury Indian dhurrie.
The clients keep Maddux and leGleud on their toes as they continue their hunt for unique finds. One of the latest is a circa-1900 daybed by Swedish designer Carl Malmsten. They are also actively looking for a grand piano for the living room. "We've been struggling with that," admits the wife. "It's hard to find something that both sounds good and works aesthetically."
In the living room of a London townhouse, which was renovated by Scott Maddux and Jo leGleund of Maddox Creative, working with architect Nathaniel Gee, the vintage sofa is by Ico Parisi, the Otto Schultz chairs are covered in a Clarence House fabric, the light fixture is by Vilhelm Lauritzen, and the 1970s Marcello Mioni cocktail table was found on 1stdibs. The floor lamp is by Willy Daro, the kilim is a custom design, the mantel is of Paonazzo marble, and the walls are painted to resemble parchment; the painting is by Barbara Hepworth, and the picture light is by Remains Lighting.
At first, Maddux found the constant state of flux disconcerting, but over time, he has very much come around to the idea. "You just get used to the fact that things are not going to be in one place forever and loosen up," he says. "Actually, it's quite refreshing!"
This story originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of Siweb.