© All pictures by James Merrell
Michela, an Italian brought up in Rome and now living in a skinny Victorian terrace in west London, is every inch the glamorous mamma, and loves to chat with her three children Eugenia, Dimitri and Theodora, taking them on the school run each morning, even though the older two beg to be dropped round the corner because it's "very uncool" for Mum to be dropping them at the school gates.
Closing the divide
Their house was divided into flats and structurally unsound when the couple bought it in 2009. Their task was to turn it into a family home.
Michela says: "I wanted fluidity between the rooms so chose circular layouts and objects: the round bistro table in the kitchen and the leather stools; paintings with circles — even my favourite rugs are round."
Michela's style elevates grey to an art form. Traditionally sombre — even corporate and dull — in her house the shade has been given a new lease of life: textured and warm. In the bathroom beneath the eves, for example, a feature wall of Farrow & Ball's Off-Black is the backdrop to a silvery antique-style tub.
"I fell hook, line and sinker for this Brissi bath, which looks as though it's made from polished pewter," she says. Despite the crafted appearance of so many of the rooms, Michela is surprisingly diffident about her decorating. "I don't pretend to have planned every square inch. It didn't happen like that." In fact, Michela improvised on a whole range of looks and moods. There's a catchy riff of 20th century design throughout (Arne Jacobsen chairs, classic 1950s lamps) with base notes of Italian chic and the occasional funky mustard yellow or vivid turquoise.
The modulation from space to space is subtle. At street level and on the first floor, for instance, the flooring is mostly black. Up a flight of stairs to the kids' bedrooms and the décor shifts into monochrome stripes. Finally, in the master suite, the floors are white. "We bought inexpensive oak and stained it to create the desired effect," says Michela.
The house is now finished and Sunday is the day to enjoy it with her husband. "Leonidas and I spend the evening together, while our two eldest get dinner ready. "It's a brilliant idea isn't it?"
See more of Michela's work at mikinteriors.com
Read the full version of this feature in the May issue of Living Etc, out now
Photographs by James Merrell
Styling by Mary Weaver