Cover The turquoise dining room adds a refreshing energy to the rest of the abode, while Art Deco feature lighting sets the ambience

Homeowner and upstate property advisor Naomi Heaton transforms her historical London home into a striking space that celebrates her love of art and design

If there’s anyone who knows the prime central London property market and its investment potential like the back of their hand, it’s Naomi Heaton. One of the UK’s leading property advisors and investment figures, Heaton is the group chairman and founder of real estate investment advisory London Central Portfolio. Established in 1990, the property doyenne leads the company with her expertise and extensive industry knowledge of the property market. 

It comes as no surprise then, that Heaton’s keen property acumen drew her to a striking white stucco property in London’s Regent’s Park. The upstate property’s “position, architecture, and potential” caught the real estate maven’s eye immediately. 

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“Not only was it a blank canvas internally to quite literally paint on, there was also a mews house connected to the main house. This was ideal for the teenage children, who could have their own separate space,” enthuses Heaton. “Coupled with the glorious gardens of London’s most prestigious Royal Park and the walled garden that came with this house, there was no decision to be made. I put in an offer on the property the day I saw it without even showing it to my husband.”

The original house structure was designed by John Nash, one of the foremost British architects of the Georgian and Regency eras who also modified Buckingham Palace. Boasting an alluring historical charm, Heaton and her husband added character to the shell by imbuing the interiors with bold and rich colours. “We love colour and wanted to break away from the usual neutrals and pale colour palettes,” says the property magnate. “We wanted depth and vibrancy, to create different experiences as you progressed through the house.” 

We wanted depth and vibrancy, to create different experiences as you progressed through the house.
Naomi Heaton

Vibrancy is indeed the underlying theme of the home. Upon entering the abode, guests will be greeted with a visually striking entrance hall that’s painted in a Chinese deep red lacquer. Black and white marble tiles are used for the flooring, arranged in a style inspired by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer’s iconic interior paintings. A mahogany George III table accompanies the 16th- and 17th-century portraits that line the walls, adding to the home’s historical influences.

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Upstairs, the sitting room’s walls are lined with golden wallpaper featuring baroque motifs that create a sense of grandeur. “We felt gold was very fitting for our main entertaining room and the period of the house,” says Heaton. “The colour works particularly well with the pieces we have chosen for the room, such as the gilded eagle mirror which stands guard over the fireplace.” 

The room is also well decorated with vintage furnishings and collectable trinkets. Together with her husband, Heaton enjoys scouring for a colourful collection of art and antiques.

“We have always had a shopping list of furniture and collectables in our heads that we look for and over time have gradually managed to acquire,” she says. “We love scouring auction catalogues and visiting auction houses—such as Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Bonhams—in central London, for antiques, as well as looking at objects from around the world online. My husband also loves building collections, from Victorian glass lions to Staffordshire dogs and Lusterware mugs.”

The dining room plays host to more artworks and vintage finds from the Regency era. Turquoise walls enhance the home’s vibrance, whilst complementing the mahogany-framed English dining chairs that are upholstered in sunshine yellow leather—another brilliant acquisition from Christie’s. A skylight, which previously featured ‘70s stained glass installed by the home’s previous owner, was reconstructed to allow more light to flood into the dining area.  

Heaton’s favourite area of the home is the kitchen, a cosy space that exudes warmth with its dark walnut joinery. As “the heart of the house”, the inviting room is where the family often gathers for meals and to work in or catch up with each other. The kitchen is also a display area for the family’s extensive tableware, which are lined up in the cabinets as an interesting visual feature. 

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“We like to see things and not put them in cupboards and this has enabled us to bring together all the various plates which we have collected,” Heaton explains. “We love English 18th and 19th century China, particularly Mason’s ironstone plates, and have built up the collection over the years by buying one plate at a time and focusing on a blue, russet and gold colour scheme. The sum of them displayed together creates something different and more powerful than being displayed individually.”

The home’s high ceilings and expansive walls also provided the couple with the perfect opportunity to present their ever-evolving collections. In particular, the stairwell is home to several art pieces that serve as a visual treat as one head up and down the stairs.

“We decided to get some large artworks—British to compliment the architecture and flamboyant to echo the way in which we decorated the house,” Heaton notes. “A huge number of paintings and drawings hang on the staircase from brass picture rails, including a collection of Roland Batchelor’s 20th-century drawings from my mother, who was an art dealer, and other modern artists such as John Piper, Ceri Richards, and Michael Ayrton.”

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For the master bedroom, Heaton similarly selected a stylish mix of antiques and vintage furnishings that are lined against a golden backdrop similar to the sitting room. A large bed with an intricately carved frame takes centre stage in the room. A pair of vintage, mismatched armchairs to the side creates a cosy nook for the couple to lounge or play chess, while a small desk beside the bed provides reading space. The floor is lined with a Persian rug from the couple’s collection, adding depth and a tactile layer to the room. 

Heaton and her husband’s keen interest and constant engagement with art and design contribute to the home’s eclectic look that’s imbued with rich culture and heritage. “My husband and I worked together to bring our vision to reality,” says Heaton. She cites the Georgian era, the grand proportions of the John Nash architecture, and the heightened sense of space and light throughout the property as key influences throughout the design process.

She adds: “We sought to create a home that was unique, embedded with history and not hidebound by current design trends. We love collecting interesting objects, everything from Mason’s ironstone plates and Victorian vernacular to contemporary sculpture and art. We enjoy discovering the history and stories behind the finds and buying pieces from artist friends.”