Chelsea Town House Renovation

by Decorcafe Expert: Interior Designer Nicky Percival

A lovely Kent based client who I have worked with on several projects asked if I would help with an investment property in London. I’m a country girl these days and don’t often work in town, but the opportunity to be involved in this full Chelsea Town House Renovation across three storeys sounded like a project not to be missed.

Chelsea Town House

The Brief

The property had been a rental for nearly 20 years and needed full refurbishment – roofing, gutters, windows, new central heating system, boiler and new bathrooms, flooring and full redecoration throughout.

I know my client quite well now and I know what she likes. I come up with the inspiration and she says ‘ok let’s do it’! However, on this project, the house will be occupied by her son………all of a sudden I have two clients to liaise with, each having differing priorities. One who wants lots of tech toys and some interesting design features in his new pad and one who is in charge of the budget. I need all my diplomatic skills at work here.

Design Direction

As usual, I started with Pinterest boards, collected a boot load of samples to offer up and we settled on a design direction quite quickly. Keeping the palette paired back – greys, charcoals and creams with a blue grey for the ground floor and communal spaces up the hall stairs and landings, this set the language for the house. We decided to concentrate on textures and small pattern to give the house a sophisticated ‘man about town’ vibe. I produced simple mood boards which were received very well especially from my client’s son who was naturally very excited to have such an amazing house to call his home.

Living Room Mood board

Sketches for the bespoke joinery in the house had been confirmed and so these needed to be drawn up for the contractor with specifications of all tiles, lights, fittings and materials for the installation. We had long discussions with the contractor regarding an awkward corner by the stairs on the ground floor – the levels were uneven and there was a supporting pillar next to the cupboard under the stairs. We rationalised this space and created a corner bench seat with table cantilevered from the pillar to make a cosy dining area – great for the occupant who is a Cordon Bleu chef. The onsite contractor was fabulous – knowledgeable, friendly and a good communicator………..we got along well from the start.

Chelsea Town House Renovation On Site

As the house needed new bathrooms, the water supply and boiler were a major concern. The water pressure was excellent but the pipe from the mains was tiny and so there had been plentiful use of pumps previously to keep the pressure in the two bathrooms. There had also been various leaks………..on one of my site visits the contractor had to show me (from a safe distance) the water dripping onto live wires from one of these pumps! Not a single floor or wall was level and so laying the herringbone timber was slow meticulous and required a zen like approach. I had specified all the fittings and was asked to supply these as well – hours were spent ordering sinks, tiles and light fittings while on holiday in France…..

Herringbone Flooring

Master Bedroom

The master bedroom and en-suite were to be monochrome. The bedroom painted a mid grey with dark herringbone hardwood floor. We built in a study desk with vertical slat detail and matching shelves the other side of the bed.

Grey bedroom with sleigh bed

Warming this up is a rich wood sleigh bed with cane work panels. Brass wall lights above the bed and differing quirky wall lights elsewhere in the room. For the en-suite walls, we used soft grey tiles in differing sizes to complement the star floor tiles which are the big feature in the room.

Vertical wooden slats on walls

Textured charcoal wood wall hung vanity with beautiful Eternal Marquina quartz top from Marble to Marvel and matching white ceramic counter top sinks with black brassware set the tone.

Grey bathroom

A pair of curved mirrors from Perch and Parrow add a little organic shape in this hard-edged room. Glass mosaics from Claybrook Studio and glass shelves to add to the mix of materials are set in the recess. The walk-in shower is simple and elegant with black brassware and soft grey tiles.

Grey patterned tiles in chelsea town house bathroom

Guest Bedroom

The Guest bedroom and bathroom, by contrast, feature a deep indigo blue (my clients favoured hue) and mustard. The bedroom was painted an earthy ochre and the brass bed was dressed in recycled indigo bedlinen with vintage cushions for texture.

mustard coloured bedroom with blue

Varied wall lights were chosen so that bedside tables were kept free. The wall to wall wardrobe storage in both bedrooms was rationalised and updated with black handles from Buster and Punch.

Blue tiles and wooden shelves in chelsea town house bathroom

The bathroom, contrasted the same indigo blue with bespoke joinery in oak. Open shelves and mirrored cupboard with wall hung sink and loo below are off-set by a vertical grid of glossy indigo Dorado tiles from Grestec which also surround the bath and shower.

Living Spaces

Once we had the bench seat snuggled in the corner by the stairs, there was more space in the sitting room for bigger sofas – important for entertaining. The soft blue grey flows into the tiny kitchen which has off white handless cabinets. The dark herringbone floor runs throughout this space and is complemented by the stripy stair carpet in charcoal and tan.

Blue Chelsea Town House Living Room

We added an internal window between the kitchen and the dining area (where the original back door would have been) for some borrowed light which also affords the, all important, opportunity to communicate with the chef.

Chelsea Town House Blue living room

The bench cushion and additional scatters make for a cosy corner adding extra texture and colour. The sofas are in a tough herringbone warm grey and deep grey/blue fabric, large in size and chosen for comfort. These are offset by hand block-printed cushions by Molly Mahone.

Design Details

My client’s son had wanted mirrors to flow up the staircase – he had seen this in an uber industrial loft apartment. But, in a Georgian townhouse with cornicing and other period details, this wasn’t going to work.


We compromised on a mirrored wall of bevel edge foxed mirror pieces between the two chimney breasts from Rough Old Glass. These have a warm bronze tint which brings additional warmth to the blue/grey palette. A pair of wall lights from Ebb and Flow reflect nicely in the mirror.

antiqued glass and contemporary wall light detail

Finishing touches were tricky as both mother and son have different taste when it comes to art and display items. We accommodated the Chelsea items – football shirt and road sign – happily in the sitting room along with a fabulously colourful painting of Leonardo Di Caprio in his role in Wolf of Wall Street which has pride of place on the mantle piece.


A gaggle of ostriches grace the end wall by the kitchen – funky and fun. The enormous model boat has yet to find its home.

Such a wonderful project to work on – a fabulous building, responsibility for designing and detailing every surface, realistic budget, obliging contractor and most importantly of all – lovely clients who have faith in you to deliver your best work.

I hope you enjoyed reading about this Chelsea Town House Renovation. If you have a similar project or just need someone to bring out your personality in your home, please get in touch with Nicky Percival on 07773 372158 or email to bring uncontrived, harmonious style to your home.

Nicky Percival Ltd is an interior design studio based in Tunbridge Wells with clients throughout the south and London catering for every lifestyle, taste and budget.


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