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A Private View: The owners of this late Victorian terrace in Fulham have given free rein to their shared passion for fabulosity

In little over a year, Christoffer Norgaard and Maher Trad have transformed an ex-rental into an exuberant oasis of pattern and colour that tracks their travels and provides a creative foil to their day jobs. We join the (gentleman's) club.

Writer
Kate Jacobs
Photography
Rachel Ferriman
A Private View: The owners of this late Victorian terrace in Fulham have given free rein to their shared passion for fabulosity

Can a pink front door ever be anything other than a statement of intent? Especially when adorned with a Bacchus-head art nouveau door knocker. On this peaceful street in west London’s Fulham, the rosy-pink door (Farrow & Ball’s celebrated ‘Nancy’s Blushes’) heralds a home full of deftly wrought character. This is confirmed in the first space one enters, a lavish dining room painted in a rich terracotta tone, one of many Edward Bulmer shades used across the house. “Having a dedicated dining room, as well as an eat-in kitchen, felt like a milestone to becoming an adult,” says Christoffer Norgaard with a wry smile. “It was one of the things that made us want to buy this house as soon as we saw it.”

Christoffer, a Swede, lives here with his partner, Maher Trad, who is North African-British. “It was immediate for me, too,” Maher adds. “The house was flooded with light and I liked the quirkiness of the steps up and down to each half-level, giving us the opportunity to create different moods in each space.” The couple met through work; Maher is a management consultant, while Christoffer is co-founder of a fintech company. “There are no parallels between our careers and our aesthetic vision,” says Maher. “Management consulting is typically about processes and frameworks, whereas at home we try to have fun with design, sometimes ignoring rules and pushing boundaries in order to fulfil our vision.”

After selling their last home through Inigo, they were keen to stay on in Fulham. “It’s quiet, residential and friendly, with great restaurants and stores on Fulham Road and it’s very close to Kensington and Chelsea too,” says Maher. As the owners of two dogs – miniature dachshund, Kiki, and Italian greyhound, Gigi – they also appreciate the easy access to green spaces. Now, the pair have decided to move on in search of their next decorative adventure …

Having previously been a rental, the house had an all-white anonymity that was never going to work for this couple, but it was at least structurally sound. Their approach was to tackle the space piecemeal, room by room. “We had fun with each space and didn’t think about how they’d all fit together. But because we followed our intuition, it became cohesive, there’s a ‘red thread’ of consistency running throughout the house, as we say in Sweden,” explains Christoffer.

The living room was designed with cosy evenings in mind, the bucolic wallpaper (‘Plantasia’ by House of Hackney) the result of hours of careful research: “We looked at many hundreds of papers, scrolling online before ordering samples to try on each wall. This one was influenced by our fascination with old tapestries,” says Christoffer. Here and elsewhere in the house, including the high-energy orange guest bedroom, the couple used gimp braid as a border around each wall. “It’s a way to create zhuzh,” explains Maher.

The pair share a home office softened, both visually and acoustically, by an olive-toned woven paper on the walls (‘Ursa’ by Pierre Frey). “We were debating whether to do something fresh and airy here but decided to lean into the cosier side of things,” says Christoffer, with Maher adding, “it’s the opposite of an impersonal, big corporation office space.”

In their own bedroom, Christoffer decided to coordinate the wallpaper and fabric. “It’s something that’s rarely seen in Scandinavia but, as a Swede living in the UK, I was inspired by the fantasy of the English country house and recreating that in a playful way.” The couple chose a marbleized pattern, designed by fellow Swede, the celebrated designer, Beata Heuman, as both a wallpaper and a velvet for the canopied bed. “It was tricky because we’d only seen it used in very small spaces, such as powder rooms, but we fell in love with all the colours within the design, which make it easy to work with and link it to the plum tone of the bespoke wardrobes and the peachy pink silk that lines the canopy. Maher has always wanted a canopy bed,” explains Christoffer. “It brings a cosiness to the room and also a bit of wow factor,” explains Maher.

At the back of the house, the light-filled kitchen opens on to a conservatory which blurs the boundaries between the house and the charmingly romantic garden beyond. The kitchen’s soothingly soft, muted tones are offset by the colour of the cabinets. “It’s a vibrant and quite unique colour that contrasts well with the greige floor,” says Maher.

The couple’s interiors tastes overlap to a satisfying degree. “My aesthetic has evolved to meet Christoffer’s so now we’re fully aligned,” says Maher magnanimously. Christoffer credits Maher with keeping his wildest decorating impulses in check: “We both love maximalism but for us it’s less ‘circus’ and more ‘gentleman’s club’. But Maher occasionally has to remind me that we don’t live in a French chateau and that some of my ideas are too much for a house in Fulham. This house wasn’t built in a particularly grand way, but we have injected as much fabulosity and grandeur as we can.”

Classical references appear throughout the house, from framed architectural prints, to plaster and stone portrait busts. “I think what we look to incorporate is timeless elegance,” says Maher. “We like elements with intricate decorative motifs which balance well with the otherwise sober aesthetic of a given room. It could also be a subconscious nod to my birth city of Carthage, with its Phoenician and Roman past,” he ruminates. Tassels also abound. “They’re a newfound love, but already a dangerous addiction,” confesses Christoffer with a laugh. “My mother is an interior designer, and she has already warned me, ‘Hey, slow down with the tassels!’”.

The pair like to forage at antique markets, such as Petworth and Sandown, for furniture and objects, and have a policy of selecting something for their home on each trip they take together, such as the orange lacquered betel nut box on a living room side table, which they found in Bangkok. “It’s very intricate and lovingly hand-painted. Antiquing in other countries takes you away from the swanky streets to explore the outskirts of a city,” says Christoffer approvingly. And, when their exhaustive searches fail to source just the right piece, they simply have it made to their own design: “One of our greatest assets is a woman called Fiona who makes things fabric for us, like our sofa, armchair and the kitchen bench. Every time she finishes something, we can’t wait for the next project,” Christoffer enthuses.

The sum total of all these parts is an intense, immersive yet surprisingly restful home. Maher travels to the Middle East a lot with his work and always appreciates the calm contrast of coming back to Fulham and to the house, to cook for friends or cosy up together. “We’re not far from the busy-ness of London here but it feels like a real oasis of peace.”

Knivet Road, London SW6

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