News Article

Stunning new location... Carlton

News Article

Stunning new location... Carlton

Fresh Locations regulars and serial renovators Laura and Gary know a few things about turning a house into a home, and making sure it’s a hugely successful shoot location too. We’re so pleased that they came back to our agency to represent their beautiful new shoot location venture...

The couple fell for this house largely because of its location in Ealing, ‘this area has changed so much,’ explains Laura ‘it has so many great independent shops and restaurants, it’s well connected and will be even better with the arrival of Crossrail. One director described it to me as “the filming hub of London” which is obviously perfect!’, and Carlton's specific location is great too, set on a charming, leafy street with off-road parking on the cobbled driveway.

The grand Victorian houses in this area, built as country homes for the surgeons of Harley Street, ticked a box for the couple whose last two homes had been Thirties properties, ‘I’ve always loved the lofty ceiling heights and generous proportions that you only get with Victorian rooms,’ Laura enthuses.

Now running the location with her husband, Laura previously worked as a model and has shot in many amazing location houses, ‘but I was always more interested in the interior design of the homes that the fashion!’ she recalls with a laugh. She and partner Gary, an entrepreneur and feng shui expert have been renovating properties together for twenty years, ‘we make a good 50/50 team, my love is for the aesthetic and he knows how to work out the space.’

Like many confident serial renovators, they liked the fact that this house was largely untouched, as Laura explains, ‘after all, why pay for someone else’s taste?’ Built in 1888, this house has only ever been in three families and came with its own wonderful history archive, complete with old photographs of the Victorian family in situ and a 1935 bill of sale from Harrods’ estate agents.

Laura and Gary like to handle the architecture side of things themselves – just getting someone to draw up their ideas, ‘we love studying the layout and seeing how best to make everything work.’ As well as going into the loft, they extended to create a spacious new kitchen-dining room at the back. Then there was all the standard nitty-gritty of a major renovation; re-wiring, re-plumbing, as well as new fireplaces (barring the two original ones), panelling, a new staircase and beautiful new oak herringbone floors.

The project was not without its challenges, they took a risk on a new builder and his inexperience told at times. They got the bulk of the work done in advance of moving in, ‘but it was still a building-site when we arrived and our three teenagers were moaning – especially about showering under a hose!’ Doing huge renovation projects like this is always a struggle and a labour of love, ‘no matter what you plan for and budget when you renovate old houses there are so many unforeseen things. And it’s frustrating that so much of the money has to go on things that you don’t even see.’

Luckily Laura is a canny shopper, sourcing panelling and fireplaces from the right era on eBay, ‘we were trying to achieve so much on a tight budget, but I’ve found a lot of good things on eBay over the years.’

They designed the elegantly austere kitchen themselves and it was made for them by Handmade Kitchens Direct, while a modern Aga completed the look, ‘it has that classic Aga styling but you can turn it off,’ explains Laura.

When it comes to colour, Laura has always favoured subtle neutrals in the past but decided, for this project, to follow her instincts and introduce a bolder colour palette, using Farrow & Ball paints, ‘I just think they’re the best quality and colours.’ She devised a palette of some seventeen shades – no whites – including the grey-pink petticoat-inspired ‘Peignoir’ in the living room and ‘Oval Room Blue’ in a bedroom. ‘I was getting a bit fed up with “neutral”. I wanted to do something more moody, to add more character.’ Her tip for bringing a more contemporary twist to the walls is to run the same shade over walls and woodwork ‘if you sweep the same colour across everything it gives a more modern feel’, Laura explains.

That mix of traditional and modern was central to the couple’s vision of the home. ‘I was very inspired by the Downton Abbey look, particularly for the kitchen with its panelled glass screen and long bespoke perp-table. But although it’s an old house, I didn’t want it to feel like a Victorian pub!’ So the period details are balanced with a sense of elegant contemporary luxury, such as with the pink velvet shell-like sofa and armchairs in the living room. Lighting is hugely important to Laura, as well as exquisite statement lights hanging from the ceilings, she loves to use wall lights, to bring character to a room and help to create a sense of atmosphere. The couple have always favoured shutters in the past but with this house they have gone for lavish fabrics by William Morris and House of Hackney, with half panels of sheer-linen for privacy – an idea that Laura took from the original photos of the property in the archive.

They knew from the start that this would be a location house, it offers size –  having been built on a grand scale – but is also carefully thought out to let the camera get back to shoot each space, ‘a good location house is not just about aesthetics, design and colour, it’s also about layout and proportion,’ says Laura. And she knows her stuff, the couple’s last place was one of the busiest location houses in London and we feel confident that this one will be too. Thankfully for us, bringing it to Fresh Locations was a no-brainer for the couple, ‘we have a great relationship with Fresh Locations, they’ve always got us great jobs and regularly too – plus they’re lovely to work with.’ Stop it guys – we’re blushing!