My article in Corriere della Sera's LIVING magazine on the fashion stylist Sukeena Rao, who runs a luxury personal shopping business in London. When she revamped her Notting Hill home, making it look good wasn't enough - it had to feel good, too. Bringing in the help of interior designer Charles Mellersh, the pair worked together to create a a fashion-friendly, feel-good family space.
‘My approach to fashion styling is about choosing clothes that the client can throw on and feel amazing,’ says Sukeena Rao. ‘This is also the same for my home. I wanted a home that felt relaxing as soon as you walked through the door.’ As big decorating ideas go, that may not sound terribly exciting, but the end result – three-storeys of luxurious, yet comfortable living space personalized with meticulously sourced furniture and artworks – is a masterclass in stylish, practical living.
It took Sukeena two years, some structural rearrangements (Sukeena installed the Scandinavian-inspired Douglas Fir floor and moved the staircase from the middle of the building to maximize the space) and a cool, calming palette to get the backdrop of this leafy West London home right. Inspired by the British designer Ilse Crawford and the chic interiors of the Celine store and Matches Fashion, the scheme is full of energy, yet a calm and relaxing place to be. ‘There’s not one room that I’m not comfortable in,’ says Sukeena. ‘The overall effect is casual yet luxurious. It’s a place where I can shut the door and instantly relax.’
On the build side of things, Sukeena kept the original features of the property and aesthetically, the things that were important to her. ‘I knew I wanted big tall doors and Dinesen floors, along with a really nice playroom for my son next to the kitchen so we can all be together,’ says Sukeena. ‘There were lots of little cupboard rooms when we moved in, so we completely knocked all of this out.’
But it was sourcing the furniture that was the fun part for Sukeena. Thanks to her job, she has had the privilege of going into some amazing houses and by her own admission is always visually surfing for things. ‘I’m the first the person to ask: ‘where’s that chair from?’ She explains: ‘Before the days of Pinterest, I’ve always kept scrapbooks with tear sheets from magazines and will go to the end of the earth to track down a perfect candlestick or chair. But with this project, I felt I didn’t have the spatial awareness and was worried about making expensive mistakes.’ Bringing in the help of interior designer Charles Mellersh, the couple worked together to layer on furniture, art and textiles, investing in good, long-term pieces that could be moved around and were a little bit surprising, too.
To complement her beautifully renovated home, the rooms are now studded with works by the likes of super designers Michael Anastassiades and Muller Van Severen. ‘Charles validated all the things I had done,’ says Sukeena. ‘He totally understood my taste and made me feel comfortable in my choices. He gave me a massive education in what I liked and helped me to narrow things down. Like me, he is also happy to look at 1000 chairs to find just the right one.’