Glazing bars, balconies, railings, front door, all are just right, adding up to an exemplar of the architectural taste of the 1840s. Inside, the story is the same: flat, moulded cornices, marble chimneypieces with shiny register grates, oak floorboards in the first-floor drawing room. Only the basement appears to have been tampered with, its polished herringbone parquet and spacious, open-plan feel far too pleasant to have been intended for cooks and scullery maids. This house is a triumph of restoration.
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Its owner is an art dealer, director of a grand London gallery that specializes in old masters. When he bought the house in 1988, it had been lived in by the same family for forty years. Prompted presumably by the Zeitgeist of the Fifties and Sixties, they had replaced all the panelled doors, removed every chimneypiece and stripped out every cornice.
What remained required much more than carpets, curtains and a lick of paint. And so began a partnership between the owner and his decorator, Vivien Greenock, interior design director at Sibyl Colefax &John Fowler. They finished work on this house eight years ago and have since collaborated on several other properties, all commercial, in London, Paris and New York – in itself evidence that this first project was a success.
To sit round a table with them is to witness the workings of a mutual fan club.