It is fitting that a stucco eagle hangs over the porch of the home of Alison Loehnis, an American powerhouse in London. “She’s actually a very British eagle,” observes the fashion executive, president of Net-a-Porter’s Luxury and Fashion, Mr Porter and The Outnet. Two years ago, his family of four disembarked at the Georgian terraced house, located on a 19th-century garden square with Ionic colonnades and aquiline figurines. Attributed to Scottish landscape architect John Claudius Loudon, the residence is one of many purportedly built to house Wellington’s returning winning officers.
The search instinct for the Loehnis family was also strong. Her husband, Alexander, who works in financial communications, grew up on the square and took Loehnis to see his childhood home early in their relationship. “It was a hidden secret oasis, with a wonderful sense of privacy but somehow community,” he recalls.
When their current home went up for sale, Loehnis looked beyond the numb interventions to see large bones and proportions. Claire Sa and Max de Rosee from the De Rosee Sa architecture and design studio revived the classic character of the house, enhancing Georgian moldings and lintels 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 everyday chaos. (“I like the warmth but not the clutter,” notes Loehnis.) The abandonment of the existing rear extension, meanwhile, has allowed a kitchen and family room (they call it “cozy”) on one level.
Settling into one of the two Arne Hovmand-Olsen armchairs in his living room, Loehnis talks about the decoration process. “This room is a good example of objects found at auction during the lockdown: the French console from the late 19th century, the travertine table”. Picasso prints flank the fireplace, supporting a symmetry in keeping with Georgian persuasion. Meticulous memories come together, including finds by John Martin (a favorite gallery owner) and masses of rocks collected in Pantelleria. “My husband and daughter look for them for hours and hours.” Italy reappears in the bedroom of the couple with a large-format photograph by Massimo Vitali.
“The tastes of my interiors are wider than my fashion,” observes Loehnis, the image of casual composure. “I’m more inclined to go color.” Shadows intensify throughout the house, with a grenache guest bathroom and moody blue library that was designed as a family hangout until a busy Zoom schedule turned it into his personal workspace. Alexander got his “box of thoughts” paneled in oak, while another room upstairs was reconfigured into a study for his son. The whole family and many more can gather at the bespoke De Rosee Sa lacquered dining room table, which was recently extended to 14 seats for its first Thanksgiving “Americans and Friends in London”. The versatile lower tier runs into the backyard, from which the Norfolk terrier, Tuppy (as in Tuppence) of the family, is confined. De Rosee Sa worked with Tulip Landscapes to create a classic rectangular garden, with flower beds, a Himalayan cherry tree and steps leading to the gym, framed in black wood.
“Alison loved that old and new go well together in creating an individual home with soul and atmosphere,” Sa says of the results. “The house is such an extension of your style,” adds Loehnis, whose latest discoveries combine comfort (an Erdem blanket) and collectability (a Vanderohe Curio bowl). In furniture, as in fashion, he observes, “only buy things that will last”.