It's rare to find a home that is unequivocally elegant, where no yard of fabric, piece of furniture, or dangling light fixture can be questioned for its quality or importance in the space. But such is the case for Rose Uniacke
's London home. The interior designer, antiques dealer, and architect purchased this Georgian Revival-style home in 2007 with husband David Heyman, the producer of the Harry Potter films, and their five children. "It was an institution when we bought it, but it started life as a home in the 19th century," says Uniacke. The home was built in 1861 by artist James Rannie Swinton, a portraitist for high society. "It became the Grosvenor School of Art in the '20s. We spent three years restoring it and bringing it back to life."
A home as stately as this, with soaring ceilings and cavernous rooms, is a challenge to make comfortable. But, Uniacke rose to it with characteristic grace. "I take time and try to get the context and the feeling of the space correct for the period," she says. "I like to add a contemporary feeling and I take great care in the choice of furniture. Sometimes a room is built around one significant piece. I like to give furniture room to breathe. A feeling of space is essential in my work." To find such choice pieces, Uniacke frequents Paris shops, which she knows well from her early days of buying antiques for her mother, acclaimed antiques dealer Hilary Batstone
As each room flows so effortlessly into another, the question of what materials Uniacke keeps in her arsenal naturally arises. Her knowledge of antiques serves her well as a renovator, as many of her favorite materials come from the history books. Distemper, an ancient type of paint made of water, chalk, and pigment, is a favorite for interior walls. She also uses tadelakt, a traditional Moroccan plaster finish used for its lustrous, undulating quality and water resistance. When it comes to making a bedroom comfortable, Uniacke recommends one thing only: "Deliciously crisp, white sheets."
The art of living as simply and as beautifully as Uniacke requires a masterful attention to detail and discerning taste. To see just how simply she can design, reference her conversion of a Georgian town house into the head offices for Jo Malone
. In her own bathrooms, though, the edited fixtures include sconces
of her own design, 18th-century carved walnut Sgabello chairs
, and cast-iron bath tubs. "I prefer cast iron over ceramic," she says. "My own bath is old and carved out of solid marble." We never would suspect anything less, Ms. Uniacke.
See her complete portfolio of interiors, and shop her selection of antiques at Rose Uniacke
Photography: Simon Upton