“Life itself, every moment of it, every drop of it, here, this instant, now, in the sun, in Regent’s Park, was enough,” said Virginia Woolf, which might describe Naomi Heaton’s feeling at the first glimpse of her London townhouse.
The founder of The Other House – launching in South Kensington in spring 2022 – has created her own home and sanctuary overlooking one of London’s most beautiful parks.
Words by Cosmo Brockway.
The home’s history
The stucco house was designed by John Nash, famed for Buckingham Palace and Brighton’s Royal Pavilion. Naomi chanced upon it in 2014, describing it as “one of those once-in-a-lifetime finds.” The property developer put in an offer at first sight, without even consulting her husband, cancer specialist Jonathan Waxman, as she knew the couple could make it their own. “I even crossed Marylebone Road for it,” laughs the long-time W1 resident, “although you can look down Harley Street and see John Lewis, which is a comfort.”
The couple were looking for a marital home large enough to entertain, and Naomi knew her then-to be husband would love the way the house appeared to flow into Regent’s Park, reminding him of his Hampstead Heath home.
The Other House
Describing her work as “the essence of my being,” Naomi has spent the last two years working on the launch of her new venture. This will see the concept of a lifestyle hotel turned on its head into a Residents’ Club with all the comforts and cachet of a members’ club. “People arriving in the capital want a pied-à-terre without the commitment and The Other House, based in stylish and central neighbourhoods, will give them that sense of home and freedom.”
Naomi’s background in the residential sector has informed her sense of design, which is strikingly evident in The Other House. “I worked closely with Marie Soliman of Bergman Interiors. I wanted to bring something of my own house, something slightly avant-garde but also classical and modern. I feel there is a shift away from neutral towards the dramatic and vibrant. Marie and I adore colour and had fun developing the schemes for The Other House.”
This sense of fun is what underpins – and anchors – the interiors of the striking period house Naomi calls home.
Walking through the front door, guests are greeted by a grand entrance hall. Inspired by Sir John Soane’s Museum London with a modern twist – conjuring the eye is the watchword here. The seemingly lacquer walls are, in fact, red gloss paint. A statue by noted sculptor, Paul Vanstone – Anish Kapoor’s former assistant – stands above a pond, glinting with goldfish and set into a monochrome marble floor. Influenced by Johannes Vermeer’s beguiling interiors and combined with court portraits of the 17th century, the effect is a mesmerising introduction to Naomi’s aesthetic.
A home with a story
Music is at the heart of the family and Naomi shows me her father’s gilded harp in the music room, which also features a grand piano, piles of books and a portrait of a be-ruffed Spanish noblewoman. “We could never be scrupulously Georgian,” she laughs as we walk down a splendid stone staircase to the subterranean dining room, given vim by yellow leather dining chairs, found at Bonhams and re-covered for Naomi.
Looked down upon by a gold turban holder and turquoise walls, the long dining table is covered in a panoply of china – every surface has something to gaze upon. Sober pieces of richly-carved 17th-century wood are playfully juxtaposed with colourful glass lions and Staffordshire poodles. “We both love British furniture and have filled the house with pieces that tell the story of local artisans through the centuries.”
The kitchen sports an astonishing collection of Mason’s ironstone plates, ranks of Imari ware found at Christie’s and antique markets. The 18th-century window features a contemporary stained glass panel by Brian Clarke, who Naomi describes as “our foremost stained glass artist in the country,” while Copeland & Garrett tiles with Art Nouveau illustrations from Shakespeare’s plays are arranged among the utensils.
Naomi is clearly a person of style and substance – qualities which her alluring home reflects and, like the sun’s reflection in a prism of glass, magnifies to dazzling effect. We can only wait to see a similar impact with the opening of The Other House.
Photography by Jack Hardy. Lead photo by Andreas Von Einsiedel.