It is fitting that a stucco eagle looms over the portico of the home of Alison Loehnis, an American powerhouse in London. “It’s actually a very British eagle,” notes the fashion director, president of luxury and fashion at Net-a-Porter, Mr Porter and The Outnet. Two years ago, her family of four landed in the Georgian townhouse, set in a 19th-century garden square with Ionic colonnades and Aquiline statuettes. Attributed to Scottish landscape architect John Claudius Loudon, the residence is one of many believed to have been built to house victorious officers returning from Wellington.
The Loehnis family’s instinct to come back was also strong. Her husband, Alexander, who works in financial communications, grew up there and took Loehnis to see his childhood residence early in their relationship. “It was a hidden secret oasis, with a wonderful sense of privacy but sort of a community,” she recalls.
When their current home came up for sale, Loehnis looked beyond insensitive interventions to see big bones and proportions. Claire Sa and Max de Rosee of architecture and design studio De Rosee Sa revived the classic character of the house, enhancing the moldings and Georgian architraves and restoring much of the original layout. In the basement, a narrow garage has become a storage room that leads to the pantry and kitchen, freeing the formal entrance from daily clutter. (“I like the warmth but not the clutter,” Loehnis notes.) Abandoning the existing rear extension, meanwhile, has created a kitchen and family room (they call it the “cozy “) on one level.
Settling into one of the two Arne Hovmand-Olsen lounge chairs in her living room, Loehnis recounts the decorating process. “This piece is a good example of things found at locked-out auctions – the French console from the late 1800s, the travertine table.” Picasso prints flank the fireplace, supporting a symmetry befitting Georgian persuasion. Meticulous memorabilia is mixed in, including finds from John Martin (a favorite gallery owner) and rock clusters collected at Pantelleria. “My husband and daughter collect them for hours.” Italy reappears in the couple’s bedroom with a large-format photograph by Massimo Vitali.
“My interior tastes are broader than my fashion,” notes Loehnis, the picture of laid-back calm. “I’m more inclined to color.” Shades intensify throughout the home, with a Grenache guest bath and whimsical blue bookcase that was intended as a family hangout until a busy Zoom schedule turned it into his workspace staff. Alexander got his own oak-paneled ‘think tank’, while another upstairs room was reconfigured as an office for their son. The whole family and more can gather around the De Rosee Sa bespoke lacquered table in the dining room, which recently expanded to seat 14 for its first ‘Americans and Friends in London’ Thanksgiving. The versatile lower level extends into the backyard, from which the family’s Norfolk terrier, Tuppy (as in Tuppence), demarcates. De Rosee Sa worked with Tulip Landscapes to create a classic rectangular garden, complete with flowerbeds, a Himalayan cherry tree and steps leading to the gym, framed in black wood.
“Alison appreciated that the old and the new came together well in creating a detached house with soul and atmosphere,” Sa says of the results. “Home is such an extension of your style,” adds Loehnis, whose latest finds combine comfort (an Erdem blanket) and collectability (a Vanderohe Curio bowl). In furniture, as in fashion, she notes, “only buy things that last.”