Green and Serene
ELLE DECORATION // MAY 2016
GREEN AND SERENE
Vibrant yet restful, this London family home is decorated with an abundance of greenery and vintage furniture. Here, homeowner and designer Liza Giles shares her style secrets
Words TESSA PEARSON Photography JAMES MERRELL
A fluid succession of light airy spaces brought to life with a palette of soft greens and vibrant blues, this four- storey double-fronted south London property is home to interior stylist and artist Liza Giles, her architect husband Matt and their two boys, Arlo (three) and Elwood (five). Liza and Matt have lived on this quiet, tree-lined street in Peckham for 10 years and in their current home for the past five.
They had outgrown their narrow townhouse located just a few doors down and were drawn to this 19th-century property with a 427-square-metre floor plan and large garden, despite its state of disrepair (a fire destroyed all the original features in the 1970s and the house had been uninhabited for three years when they viewed it).
Unsurprisingly, given the couple’s combined expertise, they embraced the chance to work with a blank canvas and set about transforming the house into a seamless series of liveable rooms. ‘We wanted to exploit the width of the property and the views across the garden,’ explains Matt. ‘So we removed some of the partition walls and linked the kitchen and living spaces across the central hallway. We also added a doorway at the back of the kitchen, so that you can walk around the ground floor in a circle. These fairly simple alterations have made such a difference to what was formerly a series of disconnected rooms and dead ends.’
Liza and Matt enlisted plaster specialist Miles and Wilde to recreate period features such as cornicing and installed parquet flooring throughout. Soothing greens and hits of turquoise enliven the home’s all-white interior; it’s a palette favoured by Liza, who worked for Designers Guild for 15 years. ‘Having worked with Tricia Guild for so long, I’m quite addicted to colour,’ she says. ‘But in my own home, I always like to start with a quiet and peaceful backdrop.’
As clean-lined and refined as the house appears, this is first and foremost a family home. ‘Designing an interior is very different when you have children,’ says Liza. ‘Photoshoots are great for experimenting and inspiration, but a family home has to work for the kids as much as it does for us.’
This sentiment extends to the garden, which features hardy perennials and structural planting. ‘Our old garden was herbaceous and delicate, but now with two little boys always out there playing football, it needs to be robust,’ says Liza, who cites what she calls her first ‘grown-up garden’ as a key influence upon her home’s vibrant colour scheme. ‘I didn’t actually intend everything to become so green, but the more I worked on the garden, the more I realised how calming the colour is.’
The abundance of greenery brings a softness to the streamlined interior, which has been conceived with an architect’s exactitude. ‘Matt likes modernity, straight lines and white walls. I sway more towards vintage pieces and industrial design, but the combination of our styles seems to work well,’ says Liza. The end result is a practical and versatile family home that brims with personality, yet is imbued with calm. ‘We didn’t overthink the interior; it has just evolved. There are lots of things that aren’t perfect together, but that just adds to the character. We like to think of it as a happy accident.’