Viki Lander, Creative Director of Ensoul Interior Architecture, reveals the inspiration behind her family home in Wandsworth, which brings the outside in with a magnificent garden basement extension and has family fun and functionality at its heart
Words: Rachel Mantock
Before Viki Lander’s Wandsworth townhouse in Spencer Park became the idyllic family home it is today, it was ‘badly configured and in a state of disrepair’ – albeit set in acres of parkland. Lander, Ensoul Interior Architecture’s creative director, lived in it with her family for six months whilst they pushed through planning applications and designed their dream home.
Almost every single wall and ceiling was taken down, a new staircase was fitted, and an entire basement was built underneath the garden. Viki, her husband Mark Lander, Programme Director at Ensoul, and Phil Rogerson, the technical lead for the business, completely transformed a previously derelict property, completely reworking the layout.
The property is both their family dwelling and a show house for the business. Lander says: ‘It is absolutely our family home, but we also created it as a living, breathing show house for our business, to demonstrate every service that we offer, like space planning, interior design, technology, and landscaping – without it being an anonymous, vacant building. It is a truly functional, working home.’
Having put her money where her mouth is, Viki feels perfectly equipped and confident when consulting clients on underground basements. She says: ‘It’s quite an unusual thing to be able to bring people into our home to show them what an underground garden basement looks like, having invested our own money into it.’ Of her own style preferences, Lander says: ‘I design contemporary spaces, and I love using colour. I think a lot of people come to us to push their boundaries with colour and to make it work for them.’
Her own home is extremely modern, with glossy, calm grey tones dominating, along with big instances of green shades. According to what the client wants, she is not opposed to going down the traditional route either. ‘We have one client who likes traditional aspects fused with contemporary pieces. She wants detailed skirting with a marble staircase, but there are going to be some very modern Tom Dixon armchairs and contemporary artworks on the walls.’
We have one client who likes traditional aspects fused with contemporary pieces. She wants detailed skirting with a marble staircase, but there are going to be some very modern Tom Dixon armchairs and contemporary artworks on the walls
Lander once even ordered in two glass cabinets from a Polish hospital on a creative whim, because her client wanted some vintage thrown into the mix. It’s almost as if there is nothing that Lander and her army of dedicated wizards can’t achieve. Her own home is the perfect example of this, mysteriously doubling in size from the inside.
This sorcery can in part be attributed to the expert design of their under garden basement. It has a mezzanine level, a gym, and playroom, each with a glorious expanse of light. Also located in their new basement, is their AV room which centralises all of the smart technology in the house, meaning that there is not a single wire, cable or Sky box on show in her clean cut home.
Lander describes the mezzanine in her home as ‘like a little tree house,’ prizing it as one of her favourite features, along with the impressive aquarium. As for her three year old, the playroom is the stand out aspect. The main inspiration was the parks of Wandsworth Common facing the front and back of the property. Green is a staple colour in the basement and throughout the rest of the house, bringing the outside in.
Even the large, orange TV unit was chosen because it looked great against the autumn leaves, along with the fresh water aquarium containing the same species of pond life that can be found in the parks nearby. Her husband refers to the aquarium as ‘the chemistry set’, because the kids can learn about ecosystems just from cleaning it and looking after the fish.
‘I wanted to have a very organic, inside-outside feel. Even the lights above the dining table are Heracleum Lights, named after the flower.’
Speaking of the basement trend that has become so popular in London, Lander says: ‘It’s down to the design and you need to be experienced’
Speaking of the basement trend that has become so popular in London recently, Lander says: ‘It’s down to the design and you need to be experienced. We went under the garden to achieve a vast amount of light from the roof lights and the glass box. You also need specialists, like waterproofing experts, and structural engineers.’
Having built up a team of experts over the years, Ensoul boasts a network of the best talent in the trade. The future looks bright: Lander hopes to design more of their own bespoke furniture for clients in the future, as well as to source more products from independent craftspeople in a bid to support UK trade. Ensoul means literally ‘to endow with a soul’. With that kind of USP, you’re sure to end up with a truly individual family space once Lander and her team have sprinkled their fairy dust.