Occidentally on Purpose: five homes in west London to set your sights on
Right now it seems that, when it comes to the capital, west is best – just look at our wealth of lovely listings in this section of the city, by turns green, gorgeous, buzzy and bohemian
West London, it appears, will forever be associated with a certain floppy-haired actor, a blue-fronted bookshop and a bedraggled man posing in his Y-fronts. But, as many will attest, there’s much more to this corner of the capital than Notting Hill – not least architecturally. Yes, those stucco-fronted numbers are pretty tasty, but why not think outside the box? As the abundance of west London listings currently on the market – from a tall brick-fronted townhouse in Holland Park to a Regency apartment in the crook of Little Venice’s canals – show, there’s something for every taste.
Remember when we crowned this charming two-bedroom apartment in Shepherd’s Bush our Inspiration of the Week? In large part, that was because it stood as a robust reminder that even more recent builds tell us something worth knowing about Britain’s architectural past (the red-brick mansion block was constructed in the 1950s). Plus, this one happened to be decorated with harmonious hues that made us very happy indeed…
In that piece, we touched upon the history of the area. Set between White City to the north and Hammersmith and the river to the south, Shepherd’s Bush is so called because, once upon a time, this pastoral patch on the outskirts of the city was used as a stopping point for sheep farmers herding their flocks towards Smithfields Market. Maps from as late as 1841 show the area to be largely rural, covered in open farmland. Today, open space is somewhat scanter – though there’s always the green to laze on when the sun shines. Those in the know, however, slip off the beaten track to Hammersmith Park, tucked – somewhat confusingly – north of Uxbridge Road. When the weather’s too fine for Becklow Gardens’ charming roof terrace, make a beeline for this secret spot. Sited on the remains of a Japanese garden built for the Japan-British Exhibition of 1910, it still holds the Japanese ‘Peace Garden’, with ponds, a small waterfall and some of its original Edwardian planting.
Chelsea is known and loved for many reasons, but one particular pocket – down by the river at the western end of the King’s Road – is perhaps the destination for those seeking interiors inspiration. Lots Road, where the leviathan Design Centre Chelsea Harbour can be found, is home to a panoply of textile shops, interior-design studios and furniture makers. While almost every major name has an outpost in the Harbour, others – from Bert & May to Crucial Trading – line the thoroughfare itself. Then there’s the vaunted auction house, named after the street, where tchotchkes and treasures abound.
All one then needs is a house in which to put these ideas into action… Enter this two-bedroom maisonette near the river, with its own private terrace and views of the handsome Grade II-listed Lots Road pumping station. That said, looking round its peacefully painted rooms, we think this place is pretty perfect as it is, from the smart blue kitchen to the quality of its beautiful wooden and terracotta floors. Besides, retail therapy can be nice, but Lots Road window shopping ain’t bad either.
This house in Holland Park is proof – as if you needed it – on the power of pattern and print to bring everyday joy into one’s life. Flick through the listing’s pictures and pick your favourite. Is it the busy bedroom paper, or the bathroom’s stylised shells? The landing’s geometric repeat or the Technicolor tendrils that sprawl across the kitchen walls?
Currently belonging to an actress, this four-bedroom townhouse, which also has a large and leafy garden, epitomises the singularly bohemian spirit of this area of west London near Portobello Road, which has for decades attracted a select creative set. While Portobello’s is one of the city’s most well-known bric-a-brac markets, there’s also a somewhat sleeker side to this part of town. It’s thanks to the profusion of swankier shops and restaurants around here, from the delightful Daunt Books and charmingly old-fashioned butcher’s, Lidgate’s, to the celebrated Core, a restaurant from the Michelin-starred chef Clare Smyth on Kensington Park Road.
Move into this split-level two-bedroom apartment on Fernhead Road and you’ll be in excellent company, among the great and the good that make up the populace of Queen’s Park. Stroll around the Sunday farmers’ market here, for instance, and you might catch Thandie Newton queuing at the dumpling stand, or Zadie Smith poking her head into the local bookshop on Salusbury Road. Just don’t expect to see any footballers; the Rangers actually play in nearby Shepherd’s Bush.
This buzzing bit of town, which this home overlooks from its marvellous roof terrace, has a vibrant villagey feel. It’s partly due to the rash of independent shops that line its streets, but it’s also down to the park itself. If pitch-and-putt golfing isn’t your thing (there’s a mini golf course behind the tennis courts), head to the petting zoo, which has been home to goats, giant rabbits, pigs and ducks over the years. Good for kids, yes, but pretty great for grown-ups too – as, in fact, is Ida, the family-run Italian joint just a short walk away, towards Kensal Rise. Book to avoid disappointment.
Is there anywhere in the capital more romantic, more picturesque, more delightful than Little Venice? We hate to say it, but perhaps its charm lies in the fact that this part of London – with its brilliants painted barges and offbeat towpath café – feels like something of a holiday from London itself. It’s something Lord Byron certainly felt when he compared it to Italy’s Floating City.
The same could certainly be said of this grand one-bedroom apartment in the area, which spreads across 583sq ft. Set in one of the exquisite stucco-fronted Regency buildings on a typically gorgeous Maida Vale boulevard, the flat is a tranquil enclave from the thrumming streets below and is just a short walk from the Regent’s Canal, which links the Grand Union to the Limehouse Basin and the Thames. With marvellously moulded cornicing, tall ceilings and elegant parquet flooring, it offers a throwback to perfect period design, while the flat itself has been sensitively updated for modern living, with a sleek new kitchen and bathroom. Generous in size and peaceful yet perfectly placed: we can hardly think of a better bolthole, frankly.
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