Originally built for railway workers, Fiona’s late-Victorian red-brick property has seen some major changes over the years. The director of the award-winning beauty brand shows us around her north London home.
Photography by James Champion
A year’s worth of renovation has seen Fiona Toomey’s house, which she shares with her husband and three boys, transform into a spacious, light-loving, and elegant property that functions as both a family home and fully operational workspace. “When we bought the house there were six bedrooms,” she explains. “But we converted one into a large family style bathroom. We added an extension to the back of the house, which serves as a gym and office. Running my business from home, and with three kids, we needed extra space for family and my work to co-exist.”
Like any well-run family home, the kitchen is the heart of the property, and Fiona’s is a stylish affair, contemporary yet timeless in its thoughtful design. Sleek cabinetry in midnight blue is offset with snowy white worktops, while pops of shiny brass in the door furniture, lighting and bar stools offer understated glamour. It’s clear that in this room, which merges into an open-plan dining area, entertaining is up there with the practicalities of feeding a family of five. “The kitchen space is a non-negotiable for me when buying a house,” Fiona says. “It’s where we spend most of our time as a family, so it has to be functional as well as comfortable.” And for this businesswoman, to achieve the optimum in flow and functionality, it’s all about the floor plan. “I’ve never liked kitchens in basements,” she says, “which we found difficult when looking for a house in London – it can be hard to find your living spaces all on one floor in the Capital! The fact that we have our living rooms, kitchen and playroom all on the ground floor sold the house for me.”
While the property has seen a comprehensive refurbishment, both structurally and cosmetically, Fiona was keen to keep it a sympathetic one. Original fixtures have been respectfully restored to their former glory, as in the elegant drawing room with its polished wood floor, period fireplace and ornate cornicing (now even more of a feature in brilliant white against the chic grey walls). “Living in London for ten years, character has become something I can’t live without,” Fiona enthuses, “so we did everything we could to preserve the period features of the house. I love imagining all the families and people who have lived inside these walls. Living in such a busy modern city, it’s so nice to come home and feel a sense of history, and calm, which is what this house does for me.”
Through considered use of colour – namely dark greys and blues, soft pinks and yellows – there’s a pleasing continuity between the property’s elements of old and new. And that seemingly effortless mix of styles continues in Fiona’s choice of furnishings and accessories. For every clean-lined and contemporary furniture piece, there’s a vintage find that pays homage to the house’s rich heritage. “I bought an antique chest of drawers from Portobello Market about ten years ago,” she says, “it’s so old I can’t open two of the drawers. But it’s been a staple in my house everywhere we move. It works in every room I put it in. And I have an old phone, which was my great grandfather’s, which sits in our drawing room. It adds a bit of history, and everyone asks about the phone when they see it.”