Her vibrant family home, a five-storey Victorian townhouse in west London, offers an object lesson in layering bold textiles. “The most important thing to consider is scale. I tend to use a small-scale print with a large-scale one. Never put two very big prints together. That would give you a headache.”
As creative director of Korla, the textile and design house she co-founded two years ago while living in Singapore, Bonsor is no stranger to pattern, and the home she shares with her financial worker husband Alex, their three children and pet schnoodle Arnie — “named after Schwarzenegger, because he thinks he’s so big and macho” — is dominated by her own designs, which range from Moorish-inspired geometrics to subtle florals.
Prior to Korla, she spent seven years dressing celebrities with her fashion label Pocket Venus, building up a list of high-profile devotees that included Kate Middleton. Bonsor sold the business when children Cosmo, five, Hope, three, and Albert, one, began to arrive, and transferred to home furnishings in 2011. “I love fashion but your home is what you’re surrounded by every day, so it feels like a more real thing.”
Perfect blend: Jane Bonsor in her west London kitchen; Right: the study with swivel chairs designed by Bonsor
Last year, while establishing her fledgling company, bringing up the children and teaching art part time to university students, Bonsor managed, often remotely from Singapore, the refurb of their London home. The ground floor has a kitchen-diner, playroom and lavatory, while the living room and adjoining study are on the first floor. The children’s bedrooms and bathroom are on the second floor and the master bedroom with en suite and walk-in wardrobe are on the third. The fourth floor has a utility room and guest bedroom with en suite.
Bonsor reconfigured the ground floor in a speedy four months, just in time for the family’s return to London in December.
A GOLDEN LESSON
“We had brilliant architects [Gluckman Smith] and builders [600 Cell], who we Skyped or FaceTimed every day. We kept everything as simple as possible, obeying the interior design mantra of using only three materials or colours in a space. The kitchen, for example, is basically white, wood or metal.”
Bonsor’s father, modernist architect Jamie Troughton, was a big help. “My dad gave me the best advice. He said, ‘Before you even open the door to the builders, make sure you have everything specced — right down to the last light switch and door handle —because when things change at the last minute, it has a domino effect.’ One of the main reasons there were no delays is because we’d chosen everything in advance.”
Moving home after 10 years in Singapore, China and Hong Kong was easier for Bonsor as the family’s home is now barely a mile from where she grew up. “It’s lovely to do things with your kids that you did as a child. London has changed a lot, but walking down Portobello Road on a Saturday morning still feels incredibly familiar.”
Kitchen diner: brights and neutrals (left); Korla print cushions on Bertoia side chairs teamed with big zigzag shutters (right)
Weekends often start with a stroll through the antiques market and a trip to buy quality foods before lunch with friends. The ground floor of the house is designed for entertaining, with grown-ups in the kitchen and kids in the adjoining playroom. Like the rest of the house, the garden has been designed (by Bonsor Landscapes) to be good-looking and practical, with a sandpit concealed under the decking and watertight storage for toys in the built-in bench. It’s totally safe for the kids, but works equally well for the children and for entertaining friends.
“The whole point of a family home is that it has to be easy to live in,” says Bonsor. “It’s not a showroom. But if you want a stylish house and you have three kids, you’ve got to be practical with things like storage. However nice your home is, it doesn’t work if you are constantly tripping over buggies and scooters.”
- See Bonsor’s work at korlahome.com.
- Contact her architects at gluckmansmith.com and builders at 600cell.co.uk.
STEAL THE STYLE
Kitchen-diner: the combination of period and modern — a Louis Poulsen PH Artichoke light and ornate Victorian cornicing — works. Says Bonsor: “I wanted a kitchen that was very simple, with high-gloss surfaces and no visible handles. At night it does feel a bit like a white box, so we had a feature painted on the shutters by Catherine Cazalet, the wallpaper designer.”
Get the look: the bespoke dining table is by Vintage Industrial Furniture. Find a similar reclaimed teak table at Yorkshire Design Associates. Poliform’s Alea kitchen has similar high-gloss units. The Bertoia side chairs are by Harry Bertoia for Knoll Studio, with Korla cushions. Louis Poulsen PH Artichoke lights from Nest.
Hallway: the fire-retardant doors in glass and whitewashed oak were designed by architects Gluckman Smith. Sliding doors save space. “But that basically meant creating a room within the room to give the doors a space to slide into. It worked very well, as the architects were able to build extra shelves and cupboards into the structure.”
Get the look: the Stretch chair is by Carnevale Studio at Liberty. The print is a Howard Hodgkin. The blue Aldo Londi Rimini ceramic vases are from Heal’s.
Drama: Anish Kapoor prints are the focal point in the living room
Study: Bonsor’s carpenter built the bookshelves. “I wanted them to look like they were floating.” She adds: “The ebony boning on the floor was already here, so we decided to keep it. We didn’t have space for two desks in here, so we had our carpenter install one long piece of plywood with a black lacquered top.”
Get the look: the Scratch vases on the mantelpiece are from Habitat. The swivel armchairs were designed by Bonsor and covered in Korla’s Grand Kyoto Koi in Grass. The Martini side table in Persimmon is from West Elm. Find a similar cowhide rug at London Cows. The Jielde Signal wall light in May Green is available from Holloways of Ludlow. The paint is Lamp Room Gray estate emulsion by Farrow & Ball.
Living room: one of Bonsor’s proudest purchases is a series of Anish Kapoor prints dotted around the house, six of them creating a dramatic wall of red and orange in the living room. “The prints are the focal point in this room, so I made the carpet, walls and furniture quite muted and picked up the red and orange in fabrics and accessories.”
Get the look: the sofa is from Ikea, with cushions designed by Bonsor. For a similar coffee table, see the Premier Housewares round coffee table with glass top at Wayfair. The polished nickel lamps are Vaughan’s Savona table lamps. The black lacquer chair is inspired by a Ming chair — the Horn chair from Orchid is similar. The Poole Pottery vases are from Heal’s. The Juva I rug is by Luke Irwin.
Children’s room: the sofa was bought in Bali and reupholstered in green fabric. The Brigitte bedroom sofa from The French Bedroom Company is similar. The lamp is from a shop on Golborne Road. The rug is from the Tarantella range by Luke Irwin. The photo of a tree is the view from Bonsor and her husband’s bedroom in Singapore.
Master bedroom: “I wanted the bedroom to be an oasis of neutral colours — various shades of black, white and grey to create a sense of calm, with a bit of green to liven it up. Monochrome can look boring but by layering prints in different scales, it gives it a sense of texture. And the backdrop of the black wall really makes everything pop.”
Get the look: the black paint is Farrow & Ball’s Railings estate emulsion. The fabric on the bedhead is Grand Alhambra Stars in Mushroom, with the bedspread in Olive and the sofa and lamp shade in Blue Black, all by Korla. The Task short wall light by Original BTC is similar.
Functional and chic: plain white sanitary ware; Right: Retro Metro tiles in the children’s bathroom
Master en suite: they managed to get in a bath and a shower, while a walk-in wardrobe is tucked around the corner. “It’s about as small as it could possibly be, but it’s still a walk-in wardrobe.” To give the room a larger feel, the line of mirrored cabinet was continued to make the entire right-hand wall mirrored.
Get the look: the Sandstone porcelain tiles are from Stone & Ceramic Warehouse. The bathroom units and sinks are by Victoria Plumb. The blinds are made in Korla’s Grand Bhutan Lattice in Angel Blue.
Children’s bathroom: “It’s tiny. We covered the walls in white tiles, and the kids love this little bath.”
Get the look: for a similar bath, see the Gem at Bathroom Heaven. The South Kensington Retro Metro tiles are from Fired Earth. The children’s mobile is the 5R Flowing Rhythm in Black by Christian Flensted at The Hepworth Wakefield gallery.
Photographs: Alexander James
Styling: Mary Weaver
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