With the help of interior designer Rose Uniacke, the owner/founder of The White Company, Chrissie Rucker, has created a restful urban retreat in London …
Although Chrissie Rucker’s London home is centrally located, close to the heart of everything, it is also an urban retreat. A terraced garden at the front of the Georgian building acts as a green buffer between the city beyond and the house itself, with its façade a combination of characterful brick and crisp white detailing around the generously sized windows and original, double-width front door.
“We loved the fact that it was stepped back from the main road and much quieter than you might imagine,” says Rucker who has shared the house with her husband Nick and their four children for many years. “We don’t really hear the traffic because of the garden, with its trees and greenery. We also loved that all the main family rooms are on the same level, rather than on top of one another, and that sense of connected, lateral space is quite unusual for London.”
The house has been the family’s London home for more than 20 years and has been through a couple of incarnations during that time. Recently, the house has been redecorated with the help of interior designer Rose Uniacke, and many of the key living spaces were adjusted and opened a little further to create a fluid circulation pattern.
The entrance hall sets the tone, with its inviting combination of old and new. Oak floors, with a touch of grey wash to soften the colour, help to tie the hall and the living spaces on the ground floor together, while ornate period cornices and other original detailing have been restored and softened in white. Dark artworks by Louise Nevelson and Antony Gormley creates a simple, strong impact against the neutral backdrop, as well as establishing a black and white theme that reappears several times throughout the house. Yet, at the same time, there are softer and more rustic textures. Lighting is subtle and soothing, sourced from a mixture of wall lights, lamps and the central chandelier. “I love everything to feel very natural and it’s always wonderful to have a fire,” says Rucker.
The kitchen and dining area at the rear of the house was completely remodeled. This is a light and inviting garden room, and a true family hub. Twin French doors open on to a small courtyard planted with ferns and vines, which really comes into its own in the summer, while daylight streams through large skylights and picks out the neutral textures featured throughout the space.
The dining table, made from a single piece of oak, seats up to ten by the fireplace. Highlights of black on a white theme continue here with the Hans Wegner Wishbone chairs in black. Rose Uniacke designed the kitchen and its island, as well as two large stand-alone units, faced in oak, which provide generous extra storage. “The simple, paneled doors of the kitchen units have no unnecessary details and a shallow profile, drawing on the Shaker style,” says Uniacke. “It [the kitchen] needed to be white, of course, so I wanted the style of it to feel as pure and unadorned as the colour white does, but also to reflect the period of the house.”
This custom-made breakfast unit is one of Rucker’s favourite features in the kitchen. In the morning, the doors slide back into the recess to reveal everything from a toaster, a coffee maker, cups and bowls to an integrated hot water tap. When breakfast is over, the doors close and clean lines return. “I love it because it has everything you need in this neat, hidden breakfast bar,” says Rucker.
The kitchen shelves are layered with pieces that are both old and new, decorative and functional. Such a combination of elements, together with the mix of natural materials and finishes, creates texture and character. The pieces are unified by size, scale, material and finish. Like any kind of family, such combinations are more than a sum of their parts.
All the bedrooms were designed to be a place of restful repose. “In these hectic times of constant connectivity, creating a calm space where we can retreat and sleep well is more valuable than ever,” says Rucker. “At The White Company we have always been passionate about the elements that help us to get a good night’s rest, including a supremely comfortable bed; beautiful breathable linens that feel wonderful against the skin, and blissfully comfortable duvets and pillows that make climbing into bed a joy.”
In the master bedroom, the window treatment, designed by Rose Uniacke, combines a fitted blind with linen curtains. “I used as narrow a curtain rod as possible with a simple, hand-gathered heading,” says Uniacke. “I chose linens, cottons and sheer layers to add depth and softness, but also an ethereal quality.” Most of the bed linen in the master bedroom is fresh and contemporary, with the notable exception of the antique lace cushions made by Charlotte Casadéjus. Their light touch of pattern and texture creates a subtle contrast that brings the composition alive.
Bathrooms, too, are a vital part of the winding-down process. “For me,” says Rucker, “my bathroom is the place where I escape at the end of a hectic day, to have a good soak, disconnect and really unwind.”
On the lower-ground floor of the house, Rucker and her husband wanted to create a partially self-contained apartment for their older son Tom. The black and white palette continues here, but there are also a host of space-saving and space enhancing measures to make the most of the limited space. Daylight enters the basement only through skylights, therefore white walls and light-reflecting surfaces, such as glass and mirror, help lift the space to make the rooms feel more generous than they are. In addition to the bathroom and hall shown here, Rucker and Rose Uniake were also able to create a small kitchen and living area. “This self-contained space has been a great addition to the house, especially when a number of 20-year-olds descend on us late at night,” says Rucker.
From: For the Love of White: The White & Neutral Home by Chrissie Rucker & The White Company is published by Mitchell Beazley, €39; www.thewhitecompany.com.
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