American-born fashion designer and former model Melissa Odabash is one glamorous lady, and, as you'd suspect, she has the lifestyle to match. As the designer of an exclusive swimwear range that Vogue labelled 'the Ferraris of swimwear', her job takes her around the world, from Miami to Monaco, and her designs are worn by everyone from Kate Moss to the Duchess of Cambridge.
So when it came to refurbishing her London home in Connaught village on the north side of Hyde Park, there was a definite ambience she wanted to achieve. 'I was looking for that glam look that echoed my distinctive style and the sun-kissed beach hues that have made my brand successful,' she explains. Then, London-based Belgian-born interior designer Caroline Legrand, known for her sumptuous, sophisticated interiors that have a timeless appeal, entered the scene.
Introduced by a mutual friend, Caroline and Melissa hit it off right away. 'I had been a big fan of Melissa's swimwear ever since she started, so I was excited to meet the woman behind the brand,' admits Caroline. Then, armed with Melissa's well-defined brief, Caroline set about producing a series of mood boards initially intended just for the living room, master bedroom, media room and guest bedrooms, but the brief ultimately expanded to nearly the entire property.
'Right from the start I fell in love with the house,' says Caroline. 'It's a very unique London home over four floors and spread out - not your usual vertical townhouse. What I especially loved was the energy that Melissa and her family radiated in their home. Even before the work began it had a very cool vibe with beautiful light and good bones.'
One of Caroline's starting points was a tear sheet from US Vogue of Cate Blanchett. 'She was leaning against a white wall with a lamp resting on a black lacquered table and a glimpse of a cream carpet and sofa. I showed it to Melissa and she got it immediately! That really got things started.' The first room that Caroline worked on was the master bedroom. She chose darker, moodier colours because that room needed something a bit more sultry than just white walls. 'I went for a rich mink and, daringly, wallpapered the ceiling, adding vintage smoky mirrors to provide that luxury feeling,' says Caroline. 'It was completed in just four weeks from start to finish. Melissa understood the vision for me to continue with the remaining rooms.'
Caroline has an eye for finding interesting pieces and putting them together in the most unexpected way, but she stresses they must go with her clients' own lifestyle and personality. To do this, she tirelessly seeks out unusual vintage furniture, eye-catching wallpaper or seductive fabrics. 'This is where I focus a lot of my energy,' the designer explains, 'but I always try to pick the right pieces at the right price.
'I am lucky that I travel a lot with my job. It means I've built up a network of international suppliers who I work with regularly and who keep me up to date on new stocks and unusual finds.' Together with Melissa, she sourced beautiful furniture for each room. 'She is a very easy person to work with in the sense that she knows exactly what she likes,' says Caroline.
The budget is always at the front of Caroline's mind and she believes in reusing existing furniture if it complements the new look. To this end, she reupholstered a number of sofas using carefully chosen fabrics. However, she adds, 'I don't like to use the same colours and fabrics over and over again. It shows a lack of originality, so I keep looking at new possibilities with every single project.'
Perhaps the biggest challenge was the big open-space media room. The proportions were not easy and Melissa naturally wanted to keep it as light and spacious as possible. Caroline's solution was to line the walls in a textured white wallpaper to make them more of a feature; she also added shutters to the windows and created a large seating and dining area to fill the space. 'It was not easy to find the right lighting and art that would go with the look of that room but we finally hunted it down,' says Caroline. 'It works really well now that we have made it both practical and retained the spaciousness, while keeping the feel and essence of the rest of the house.' And the same disciplines were applied to the large terrace on the first floor where Caroline chose a French grey palette - her aim was to create a relaxed outdoor room that was both practical and stylish. West-facing, it's the perfect sunny spot for an evening cocktail or curling up with a pile of magazines or a good book. The terrace is accessed through Melissa's own personal space - her snug-cum-TV room that Caroline finished in soft creams and fashionable vert d'eau walls with sumptuous faux fur throws on the Minotti sofa. 'It's now my favourite room to chill in the house,' says Melissa.
The magic of the house personifies the glamour and luxe that Melissa and Caroline set out to achieve with a cool chic vibe that is both refined and arresting. But above all, it has a comfortable feel and sense of calm. As Melissa underlines, 'This is first and foremost a family home where we can find peace, comfort and relaxation from our busy lives.' After all, isn't that what a home is all about?
The Owner: Melissa Odabash, an American-born fashion designer, has a successful, exclusive swimwear line and lives in London with her husband.
The Home: This spacious four-storey home in fashionable Connaught Village near Hyde Park features plenty of natural light with some texture twists punctuated by a mix of cream, gold, black and white.