We Kiwis are very curious by nature and we just LOVE Open House days/tours. In NZ estate agents have open house days and I remember going to these even if I wasn't looking to buy a house, but out of pure nosiness! There's nothing better than checking out someone's home - how they live, their interior style, how they use colour, what accessories they have and how they style the rooms with them etc. And not forgetting the outside space which is equally important for me.
I subscribe to Living Etc magazine and I discovered last year that they organise House Tours which are an opportunity to see inside some of London's most stylish homes. The head of marketing at the magazine is a Kiwi and she brought the concept over from NZ where she worked for NZ House & Garden and implanted it within the Living Etc magazine. Thank you Kate!! I signed up last year for the tours and absolutely loved it. You get to see some extraordinary homes that you would not normally ever see - some owners are well-known people, some are architects, property developers or interior designers and some are just regular people. But they all have stunningly beautiful interiors (and exteriors) be it the architecture, interior design, style (contemporary, vintage, quirky, minimalist, monochrome, multi-coloured ........ Some are mouth-wateringly divine and some not so interesting; it depends on your individual taste. But there's something for everyone.
This year Living Etc. extended the House Tours over three separate days with access to up to 22 homes in North, West and Northwest London. There was the opportunity to volunteer to "guard" one of the homes for half a day and then get free entry to all the other homes as well as six months' extension on your magazine subscription so I signed up to be a volunteer for two of the tours. I absolutely loved being a "guard", getting to know the owners and talking to the people coming to view them.
I thought I'd post some photos I took on these tours without identifying who are the owners or where the house is situated, out of respect for the owners' privacy. So apologies if these photos seem a bit random. The first set of photos are of my two favourite houses in the West London House Tour. House 1 is contemporary and built on a very small plot alongside a railway line. The owner is an architect and this house has some mind-blowing features including a disco in the basement which also houses the master bedroom.
House 2 belongs to a well-known florist and is very eclectic and stylish. It is packed with interesting items, beautifully styled and really "packs a punch" . It was my favourite house.
I also volunteered to be a "guard" for the North West London House Tour (House 3 below). I was allocated a fantastic house which was built a few years ago on a tiny plot behind some Victorian houses. The owner is a developer of custom build homes. This was a family home and quite open plan yet did not feel too open. The interior was mainly concrete walls and gorgeous oak flooring. It was the best use of a small space that I've ever seen. House 2 was my favourite of the North West London House Tours. It was a two floored apartment in Hampstead and was the most eclectic interior I've ever seen yet incredibly stylish, practical and homely (House 4 below).
House 5 in the North West London House Tour was an Arts and Crafts house in Brondesbury Park which the owners were still in the process of renovating. They only live in a house for two years before buying another, renovating and moving on. This house is huge and has five roll-top baths in it !! It is a shrine to Farrow and Ball shades of grey!! It's not really my taste but it definitely has the wow factor therefore should be commercially attractive.
I hope you have enjoyed "nosying" around these houses as much as I did, though I was at the distinct advantage of seeing them in person. You may have picked up some useful tips of what you could do in your own homes and/or it made you realise what you really don't like in an interior. Either way, I hope it's been an enjoyable whistle stop tour around these houses.
Seeking style inspiration?
If you’re working on your own home decorating project and looking for some inspiration, please get in touch and see how I can help. I do an initial free consultation which usually lasts an hour to an hour and a half. My rates are a very reasonable £30 an hour. I'll re-style your rooms, de-clutter your wardrobes and cupboards, advise on your outdoor space, source furniture, fabrics, accessories etc. Whatever is required to transform your space into your dream home, I can help.