After earning an architectural interior design degree from the prestigious Inchbald School and working for two design firms in London’s Chelsea, Lonika Chande felt ready to strike out on her own. What she needed was an initial solo project to show what she can do.
That commission came from Lonika’s mother, Lucy Dickens, an artist (and great-great granddaughter of Charles Dickens), who dabbles in real estate: she and Lonika’s stepfather had bought a one-bedroom fixer-upper in Hampstead that they wanted to overhaul as a high-end, long-term rental. The place needed a top-to-bottom renewal: scroll to the end to see the Before shots. “Having worked on a number of projects since, it’s fair to say that working with family is not the easiest,” Lonika tells us. Among the challenges: having to cater to her own and her mother’s perfectionist standards on a budget, select finishes that can take a beating from renters, and persuade Lucy to embrace color: “her tendency has always been to paint absolutely everything brilliant white.” Being “more emotionally invested,” Lonika adds, also played to both of their strengths. Join us for a look at the results.
Photography by Simon Brown, courtesy of Lonika Chande Interior Design.
Above: Situated on the ground floor of a Victorian building, the approximately 645-square-foot flat was in recent years used as student digs, but had initially been an artist’s studio, and that’s the vibe Lonika and Lucy wanted to re-create: traditional detailing presented in a fresh way.
The living area came with nearly 10-foot-tall ceilings and original windows that required restoring. Lucy agreed to expand her white paint palette: the walls are in “a warm and inviting but still neutral shade,” says Lonika—Paper I from the Paint & Paper Library. “With no cornice, the ceiling was painted in with the walls to soften the junction between the two. The window sash bars and rails were painted in Off-Black by Farrow & Ball, not only to make them stand out, but also to highlight the pretty Victorian spindles on the balcony behind. We went for bespoke sheer roller privacy blinds set inside the recess to expose as much of the original paneled detailing on the window architrave as possible.”