What makes projects special are the people living in them—but Tish and Tom are on a whole other level.” So says Rachel Chudley, a British interior decorator known for funky-chic rooms that are full of surprises. The name-checked clients would be blue-blooded Londoners Tish Weinstock, a Vogue writer and beauty editor, and Tom Guinness, a model turned soulful fashion stylist. “Both have style with an edge,” Chudley continues, adding that the finished product, a house for the couple and their toddler son, Reuben, “walks the line between old and new and bad taste and good taste.”
Before taste of any kind could be explored, there had to be a property to decorate, and the couple were keen on moving to one of London’s highly coveted mews. “They are quite idyllic, don’t have traffic—the streets dead-end—and are usually in pretty nice areas, because the buildings were the coach houses at the back of big town houses,” Guinness explains. The one that he and Weinstock, child-free at the time, settled on in Holland Park possessed a bland prefab appearance, though, suggestive of a decades-old rebuild or renovation. Still, it did have a rear garden, an unusual feature in most mews. Architect Milan Nedelkovic of local firm Helm (with sage input from Weinstock’s stepfather, Jonathan Sykes, a property developer) stepped in to reimagine the house along more conventional lines, facing it with honey-colored brick, topping it with a mansard roof, and excavating a basement that now houses a multipurpose living room. “It actually looks closer to what it could have been,” Weinstock says, “but from the outside it’s quite deceptive.”
One reason is that the rooms are suffused with sunlight—abundant natural light is another atypical mews characteristic—pouring through double-hung windows as well as a light well and strategic skylights. Another distinction is the idiosyncratic decor, which brings the subject back to personal preferences and parenting styles. “I get a bit of a kick out of the fact that we haven’t made our house into a massive nursery,” says Guinness, the youngest son of Lord Moyne and a grandson of Diana Mosley, the most beautiful of the legendary Mitford sisters. “Reuben has to learn to live with nice things.” (Indeed, they count themselves charmed by the crayon marks on one sofa.) Those nice things—only a couple of lamps have been toddler casualties so far—run the gamut of materials, periods, and styles, from Art Nouveau bentwood chairs pulled up to a table dressed in a brilliant suzani to a skeletal custom-made iron bed set atop a vast 1970s sheepskin rug that Chudley rightly calls “ridiculously shaggy.” Light fixtures by Isamu Noguchi and Erik Höglund dangle from the ceilings, heirloom portraits hang in niches, and an ink-blue Chinese carpet bristling with trees and flying birds has been flung down on the dressing room’s pale plank floor.
“Tom leans toward brutalism, and Tish gravitates to traditional design that really isn’t in vogue right now,” Chudley says. “There were quite a few lively debates among the three of us.” One of those conversations was over a flowered chintz sofa that Weinstock had desired but that just seemed all wrong to her once it arrived. “We moved it around the house for about two months” until it finally found its happy spot, Chudley says. Which, to everyone’s surprise—at least until it was relocated yet again—was the basement living room, amid Le Corbusier chairs and black leather upholstery.
“Bravery in style comes from combinations like that,” the designer observes. “That’s why this was such a creatively thrilling project for me. The sofa needed to be combined with something that had an edge so it didn’t look like some old-school object on display.” Helping with that blending is the plant-filled light well—mirrored to increase both the sunlight and the foliage—a grand old Turkish carpet, and an object that neither Guinness nor Weinstock ever felt that they would own: an antique wall-spanning tapestry depicting a pastoral scene populated by sheep.