When stylish Londoners Ryan Woor and Aaron Kelleher wanted to give their Balham townhouse a luxurious, private members’ club-style makeover, they called in the help of South London-based interior designer Laura Francesca. Using a contemporary, dark colour palette, and sourcing stylish furniture and accessories, they have turned their house into a modern, designer home
When Ryan Woor and Aaron Kelleher first viewed their three-storey townhouse in Balham they despised the décor but the property’s potential shone through. ‘I walked around it and I thought “it’s horrible”, but I could see the potential,’ says Ryan. ‘The location is fabulous because it’s so close to the station, the Common and Abbeville Village.’
After waiting nine months to exchange – ‘every single problem that you can imagine went wrong’ – they were keen to get the keys and make their mark on their new home. ‘We wanted to move to, and explore, somewhere new together,’ says Ryan. ‘We wanted somewhere we could really make our own, which is clichéd but it’s true, rather than just moving into a brand new house.’ As this was the first project Ryan and Aaron have worked on together, they were stepping into unknown territory (and not just the location).
‘It wasn’t until we started the project that we realised how alike our tastes were, with things like colour and style and textures and functionality, and how we were going to use rooms,’ says Aaron.
Despite having several ideas of what they wanted from their new home, both Ryan and Aaron agreed they would like some help – in the shape of local interior designer Laura Francesca. ‘It wasn’t long until we invited Laura over, one Sunday afternoon, and the project was born over a glass of wine. We choose the entire colour palette that day – it was the first thing we did,’ says Aaron.
The colour palette is striking and certainly what makes this renovation stand out. Sumptuous shades reminiscent of a luxurious hotel or private members’ club adorn the walls, along with striking works of art, including two pieces by Dutch photographer Hendrik Kerstens.
It was Laura’s persuasion that gave Ryan and Aaron the confidence to go with the bold colour palette to the extent that they have – there is no white paint anywhere in the house. ‘When we gave the paint tins to the painter, we were watching the impressions on their faces,’ laughs Aaron who adds that the ‘carpenter was horrified’ that they chose not to paint the skirting and the windows white.’ He loves it now, I’m assured. ‘We’ve had people from across the street ask if our windows are tinted,’ says Ryan
Ryan and Aaron lived in the property during the renovation, which proved as challenging as one can imagine – but, in hindsight, they’re glad that they did. The project took around three months in total and being on site daily meant they were able to keep a close eye on the proceedings. ‘I’m a project manager in my capacity,’ says Aaron, ‘so I came home with all these project plans, and when I showed them to the builders and the carpenters they thought it was absolutely crazy.
We had a RAG (Red, Amber and Green) status so when things were going red the tiler knew that he had to get a move on. In the end they really liked it because it was really clear what was expected of them, and where they fitted in to the schedule.’ Ryan adds, ‘It helped keep the project on track, which was important as we were living in the house at the time.’
Working with Laura was a match made in heaven, and the three have become firm friends now. The brief for Laura was clear, but her attention to detail is second-to-none. ‘We want the bedroom and bathroom to be like a luxury hotel,’ says Ryan. ‘We’re fans of the Soho House interiors – that sort of style,’ adds Aaron. ‘We find members’ clubs really relaxing when you sit in them and they’re cosy; we wanted our living room to be like that as well.’
‘It’s a relaxed room but it’s slightly more formal than a normal living room,’ says Ryan. The end of the room, complete with its own bar, hammers home the members’ club inspiration. I notice that there’s local SW4 Dry Gin on display.
Aside from Laura’s pick of Farrow & Ball colours, there’s a strong sense of glamour in the interior décor, which features furniture from OKA, Graham & Green and Barker and Stonehouse, lighting from David Hunt and art from Rockett St George.
‘The really fun thing was going shopping with Laura,’ says Aaron. ‘Going to places you didn’t know existed. Buying all the things to fit into the house and create a home.’
‘You don’t realise how many different choices there are to make,’ adds Ryan, who thanks Laura for taking charge of some of those.
Once living in the property they decided to keep the previous owners’ kitchen, just giving it a cosmetic makeover, and it’s where Ryan feels happiest: ‘behind the counter cooking, that’s my favourite space’. It’s the bedroom that Aaron adores: ‘it’s so comfortable!’
The garden is still a work in progress but plans are underway to transform the outside space in time for next spring. Before then, Ryan and Aaron are gearing up for a traditional Christmas at home. Guests are invited to have a drink at the bar before making their way through the kitchen to the welcoming dining table.
One word of warning from Ryan is that ‘dark colours on walls are not as forgiving as light colours’ so take care if using these in your own home. But ‘It’s the colour that makes this house,’ affirms Aaron, and I couldn’t agree more.
Like what you see? Discover what interior designer Laura Francesca can do for your home. Call 07956 499 961; email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit laurafrancesca.com
See more of this beautiful Balham property below: