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March 2019 / Homes & Interiors / by Ali Howard

At home with: Emilie Schou Raaberg

Set atop a Victorian terrace in Primrose Hill, this two-bed duplex boasts an aesthetic of “deconstructed luxury”, thanks to Cat Dal Interiors.

Emilie moved into the two-bed apartment with husband Mads and their cockapoo, Jensen, two years ago. Transforming its former loft space into a bedroom while creating an entire new staircase was a project of significant heft for the Danish couple. “It required a new roof as well,” says Emilie, “as we added three dormers to give us as much height as possible in the bedroom. We also removed five dividing walls to fully open up the space.” Only if you’re planning to put down roots do you undertake such fundamental structural work, but when it comes to settling down you’d be very wise to do so here. Primrose Hill is one of the Capital’s most sought-after spots, after all. “It is amazing,” agrees Emilie. “Mads has lived in the area on and off for nearly ten years so he knows every nook and cranny. The parks are beautiful and it’s got a unique little village feel. A dog-friendly pub nearby is a huge bonus, too!”

But despite popular opinion, location isn’t everything. For Emilie and Mads, it was important to find a home that came with a strong sense of character, and so the choice between a period property and a new-build was a no-brainer. “I look for old buildings with charm and history,” says Emilie. “Even when the building ages, it does so with charm. A new-build can sometimes look outdated very quickly. We love historical architectural details, and try to keep these little touches where we can.” The apartment successfully mixes mid-century classics with accents of contemporary luxe: an iconic Eames leather lounge chair sits across from a sleek and chic Bert Frank Revolve lamp; a vintage G-Plan sideboard runs parallel to the uber-modern marble kitchen island with its sharp angles and clean lines. It is the handiwork of Belgravia-based interior designer Cat Dal, whose brief was to create a home for the couple that was all about comfort and functionality, with great materials and craftsmanship. “Cat really just ‘got’ what we wanted,” says Emilie. “We loved being challenged with colours and materials that we wouldn’t have considered on our own. There are loads of lovely touches, such as the sunken bar within the media unit, and the gorgeous, uplifting cement tiles on the balcony.”

From the drama of a plush velvet corner sofa juxtaposed with a whitewashed exposed brick wall, to the use of moody blues and dark marble in the bathroom, the apartment is a delicious visual feast. But the design is more than skin deep and involves some seriously smart tech, too: “Cat talked us into using an intelligent lighting system and we’re thrilled with it,” Emilie enthuses. “It’s great to have several moods programmed, so when we want to watch a movie and get cosy, we just flick one of the buttons and then the spotlights, wall lights and table lamps dim to the perfect level.
It’s a luxury we really do enjoy daily.”

Any interior designer worth their salt places a client’s lifestyle top of the list when putting a scheme together, and here Cat has achieved, with the use of an open-plan space connecting living, dining and kitchen rooms, a series of zoned areas perfect for entertaining. “We both love having family and friends over for informal dinners,” explains Emilie, “so it’s great to start with drinks and snacks around the island while one of us is cooking, and then move to the banquette to eat.” Imposing industrial glass doors separate the main living area from the hallway, giving the entrance its own space, while a guest room is open to the rest of the flat, offering dual aspect natural lighting; Mads and Emilie simply have to pull a curtain across to give guests their own snug private area when needed. “As a Dane, I love considered, thoughtful design,” says Emilie. “Everything must have its place.” It is a design of utmost thoughtfulness and versatility.

Emilie and Mads are co-founders of north London’s The Better Home Company (betterhomecompany.com; catdalinteriors.com)