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THE ISLINGTON HOME LOVED BY VOGUE & TESTINO

We think this Islington home is amazing, but don’t take our word for it as it impressed Vogue and Mario Testino too. One half of A&R Photographic, Anita Grossman, reveals what went into transforming her home into a place that caught their eye

Unless you are in the business yourself, the photographer’s eye remains something of a mystery to the uninitiated. They see things others can’t initially comprehend, but it appears this isn’t reserved just for capturing the perfect photograph, particularly in the case of Anita Grossman’s home, which won over both Mario Testino and Vogue.

It was back in 2008 that one half of A&R Photographic, an acclaimed full service photography agency, and her builder husband first viewed a dilapidated wreck at 45 Mildmay Park Road and proceeded to buy it. ‘Looking past what we could see on the surface, we feel in love with the proportions and sense of grandeur that the house offered,’ Anita explains the attraction. ‘The potential was always there – it just needed unlocking.’

The Islington home that won over Vogue and Mario Testino

The reception spaces are immaculately designed

So they embarked on an 18-month renovation project to create the key to unlocking just that. ‘At times it felt like we might never see the end,’ Anita admits, ‘but the scope of the project was hugely extensive. Quality work takes time and we didn’t want to rush the job.’

Stepping inside the Islington home today, it seems astonishing to think that when the couple purchased it there were birds flying around the roof and making it their home. The striking family home today has underfloor heating throughout and offers 4,000 sq ft of accommodation. ‘We wanted to create a clean, modern space with sympathetic restoration that retained the original feel,’ Anita says on their ambition. ‘It was very important to us that the character of the house wasn’t lost along the way.’

How did Anita and her husband actually achieve that? ‘The restoration of the building itself was sympathetic, with period features such as intricate cornicing, windows and plasterwork carefully restored and retained,’ Anita says. ‘Contemporary touches have come through the choice of modern furniture and carefully selected finishing touches, such as the floating stairs in the kitchen, the free-standing baths and the Lutron lighting system.’

The Islington home that won over Vogue and Mario Testino

The stylish playroom

 

The centrepiece of the home today is the stunning 27ft long, L-shaped reception room. ‘That’s definitely my favourite space in the house,’ Anita grins. ‘It is vast in size and unique in shape – I feel very small when stood in there, it’s such a powerful space. It’s incredibly good for entertaining, but equally the glass box at the end is great for getting away from the family on a Sunday morning with the newspapers when you are looking for a moment’s piece and quiet!’

Elsewhere, there’s a lower ground floor that has been opened up and designed for entertaining, a bespoke kitchen that leads onto the open plan dining area with floating staircase, and a spacious outdoor area complete with hanging bubble chair and a gym at the end of the garden. ‘It was very important to have some outdoor space for our two children,’ Anita says on the latter. ‘London houses are generally not renowned for their gardens, but we have good sized space considering the property is so central. Having seemingly been a rubbish hoarding ground for the previous 20 years [before they purchased it], it took some real work to clear up and make it habitable again – but it has paid off.’

The Islington home that won over Vogue and Mario Testino

The rear extension was a huge undertaking

The property is beautifully accessorised throughout, which has been created thanks to a mix of international designers and local suppliers. ‘The sofas are B&B Italia and Minotti items, simple but timeless in design and very good quality,’ Anita remarks. ‘The fireplaces and chandeliers came from an old friend at Renaissance on City Road – it’s nice to buy local and I love the elegance of them. La Maison in Shoreditch supplied most of the beds and ornate hallway mirror, they specialise in antique and reproduction of French furniture, which is something I am a big fan of. Then other items have come from Corbusier, Mathew Hilton and Arne Jacobsen, such as the beautiful egg swivel chair in the living space.’

It’s little surprise, after so much work and thought, that the property has captured the photographic industry’s imagination. ‘It had crossed my mind, but wasn’t a key concern,’ Anita insists on it becoming a location for shoots. ‘But Mario Testino shooting for Vogue – a world class photographer and world class publication… It doesn’t get much better than that!’

The Islington home that won over Vogue and Mario Testino

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