Belgian interior designer Nathalie Deboel captures London’s energy and spirit inside a late Georgian townhouse in the Borough of Islington.
Nathalie Deboel has left her mark on the Belgian design scene, particularly in her coastal hometown of Knokke and the Flemish countryside. The designer’s approach centres around the innate desire to create comforting, haven-like homes for their inhabitants, gracing each project with subdued colours and warm, tactile materials.
Set in one of Islington’s 41 conservation areas, this 1830s townhouse in inner London is a pied-à-terre for a family that frequently travel between Belgium, Paris and London. In her debut London project, Nathalie took to London’s streets to curate an experimental and ‘outspoken’ interior palette without compromising her signature design aesthetic.
“We wanted the dining room to feel warm and cosy, to invite guests to sit down while the family are cooking in the kitchen,” Nathalie says. A built-in banquette seat upholstered in plush velvet sits against a wall of traditional wainscot panelling in the company of vintage crystal wall sconces and walnut dining chairs and the Line table, designed by Nathalie Deboel.
The home spans over three levels; the entrance, dining room and kitchen on the ground floor, living space, bar and terrace on the first floor, and bedrooms with ensuites upstairs. Nathalie says she found the typical narrow London townhouse layout testing when designing the home’s interiors. “The biggest challenge was the layout, which is very vertical, meaning the living spaces are divided over two floors instead of one,” Nathalie explains.
Tucked at the front of the home, the navy and marble kitchen celebrates the heritage character of the centuries-old townhouse. Profiled cabinetry, brass cup pulls, the ceramic farmhouse sink and a statement freestanding oven are hallmarks of the British shaker kitchen, finished with a thin marble benchtop that continues up the wall and ends with a custom shelf overhang.
As you move through the home, each room slowly reveals a space slightly more playful than the last, yet seamlessly united by the same grounding base palette of oak herringbone floorboards and off-white walls. Charcoal colonial windows reference the home’s historic nature, with the introduction of black skirting boards on the first floor and architraves in the bedrooms.
“In tune with the vibrant spirit of London life, the interior has an outspoken choice of materials and a palette of bright colours.”
– Nathalie Deboel
Accessible via an open staircase, the first floor is divided into two sections; a formal living space overlooking the street and a home bar opening onto the back terrace on the other side.
The Nomad library, designed by Nathalie, is the focal point of the room, inspired by the habits of nomads and the wooden sticks they carry and use to create furniture.
A curved, custom-designed home bar is an extension of the dining space below and offers an additional place to eat or entertain with friends.
Nathalie describes the dining room as “cosy and relaxed”, with a mix of vintage, built-in and custom-designed furniture, including the Line table designed by Nathalie. “In our designs, we strive to create a natural flow between the different rooms,” Nathalie says. “Because the kitchen and dining area are removed from the living room, it was important for us to create a clear communication between these two levels.”
The custom travertine-clad bar on the first floor in the living space acts as an extension of the dining space in the level below, offering a secondary, more formal area for the family to have small bites to eat and drink. This bar opens up onto a private terrace at the back of the home, while the other end of the living room faces the charming streetscape. “We love that both levels can be used in different ways, depending on the mood or the season,” Nathalie adds.
The living space sees colourful, eccentric vintage pieces featured alongside vibrant artworks sculptural forms and the Nomad library, handcrafted in Belgium from Nathalie’s Nomad collection. “We aimed to encapsulate the energy of London in the interior, in a way where different eras and styles of furniture can be combined effortlessly,” Nathalie says.
The London Home marks a new era for Nathalie Deboel. The designer has successfully captured London’s spirit while reviving the home’s 1830s bones in a way that’s both inviting and timeless. “Nothing is coincidental, but the end result with all our projects must feel just right as if it was always intended this way,” Nathalie reflects.
The bathroom design is pared back and timeless, with charcoal cabinetry, gold accents and ornate ceramic-levered tapware.