Filled with colourful fabrics, warm colours and eclectic treasures, interior designer Lonika Chande’s characterful family home is layered, lived in and much loved. Rosalind Sack takes a tour…
AN ANTIQUE FARMHOUSE TABLE AND BENCH IN THE KITCHEN SITS BELOW A GALLERY WALL OF TREASURED ARTWORK, INCLUDING A STILL-LIFE PAINTED BY LONIKA’S MOTHER. IMAGE: MILO BROWN
Interior designer Lonika Chande has the incredible skill of making a home that may have taken just a few months to design, look like it has evolved over many years. Nowhere is this more apparent than in her own family home – a Victorian former railway worker’s cottage in London’s Queen’s Park which she shares with her husband, Theo, and two children, Sasha and Riva. Every room in this charming home tells the story of Lonika and her family through layers of personal collectibles, one-off antique finds, family artwork and treasured textiles. “It’s a happy, busy house,” she smiles.
While the house was in good condition when they moved in five years ago, Lonika’s aim was to recapture some of the cottage’s long-forgotten character. “My husband really wanted it to feel warm in every sense; so the textiles, the colours and the different textures all help with that. We wanted the house to feel loved and lived in… It definitely feels lived in at the moment with lockdown!”
LONIKA ADDED THE FIRE-SURROUND TO CREATE A CENTRAL ELEMENT IN THE LIVING ROOM AND THE PANELLING TO ADD CHARACTER. THE SOFA IS UPHOLSTERED IN ‘DANS LA FORÊT’ BY NATALIE FARMAN-FARMA’S DÉCORS BARBARES BRAND. IMAGE: MILO BROWN
One of the central elements in Lonika’s designs are textiles and they were the starting point in each room of her home. “Textiles and fabrics are very integral to the way I work and the way we live. There were certain fabrics that I’d had my eye on for a long time that I really loved and wanted to use in my home.”
The Décors Barbares fabric on the skirted sofa in the living room is one that Lonika had long coveted. “I had been eyeing it up for a good year or two before we used it,” she says. “Fabrics are really quite expensive, so I think you have to live with a particular design in your head for a bit and if you keep coming back to it, then it’s right to make that purchase.”
Another much-loved Pierre Frey fabric upholsters the armchair in the kitchen, which has become a favourite spot for the whole family. “The fabric cost a lot more than the armchair, which I found at a fair,” says Lonika. “We use it all the time; we all sit on it and read stories. In fact, the castors have come off once or twice in the past year after my son has hurled himself at it. But I’m so glad that we invested in it.”
Aside from the armchair, the kitchen table is the backdrop to much of life in Lonika’s home. “It’s an old farmhouse table that was £200 from Sunbury Antiques Market – it was just being used to display things, they thought it was too battered to sell! It is on its last legs, but it’s done us proud over the last couple of years.” Hanging above the table is a collection of artworks in a warm and vivid palette of colours, including a still life of tropical fruit by her mother, artist Lucy Dickens.
“Everything happens in our kitchen; play dates, Sunday lunches, feeding the babies, dinner parties (in normal times). My son has his toys in a corner and it’s where he plays and paints at the table and we do a lot of cooking. It’s where the baby kicks about and, realistically, it’s where the washing is hung. We also work there in the evenings, so it often becomes an office space after dinner for a couple of hours. It’s definitely the heart of our home.”
TONGUE AND GROOVE PANELLING PAINTED IN ‘GRAVEL PIT’ EGGSHELL BY DULUX, ANTIQUE UNITS AND THE SOFT ROMAN BLIND IN ROBERT KIME’S ‘FIELD POPPY’ FABRIC ADD INSTANT CHARACTER AND COSINESS TO THE BATHROOM. IMAGE: MILO BROWN
Very often kitchens and bathrooms can be forgotten spaces which it comes to textiles, so Lonika was keen to add lots of fabric to these rooms to make the space feel more characterful, cosy and layered. Both the floor-length red striped kitchen curtains and the pretty roman blind in the bathroom completely change the feel of the two rooms. The floor to ceiling tongue and groove panelling in the bathroom, installed by Lonika, also adds instant character while staying sympathetic to the bones of the house.
Layering old and new fabrics in different scales is central to Lonika’s style. Indeed, she is an ardent collector of beautiful textiles that she sources in all sorts of places; from eBay to antique fairs and brocantes, specialist makers and more traditional fabric houses. The key, she says, is not being wedded to sourcing pieces for specific spaces, but simply buying what you love.
Possibly the most cherished fabric in Lonika’s home is the green and white striped canvas on the headboard of her bed, which was left over from the backdrop at her wedding to Theo. “We had loads left over which was a bit of a waste, so I wanted to bring it into the house. It feels really special,” says Lonika. Above it hangs a cheerful yellow canopy in linen from The Cloth Shop and a block print fabric from Jaipur. While on the bed lies an old ochre Kantha quilt collected on Lonika’s travels in India.
LONIKA’S COLOURFUL BEDROOM DISPLAYS VIBRANT LAYERS OF OLD AND NEW FABRICS AND TEXTILES TO WONDERFUL EFFECT. IMAGE: MILO BROWN
With such a creative family – her mother is an artist and stylist, her aunt was the former creative director of Habitat and The Conran Shop and another aunt is a sculptor – becoming an interior designer was a natural path to take.
“We moved around quite a lot when I was a child, but the longest stint in one place was for seven or eight years in a very colourful house. We had a red room and a yellow room and a mad turquoise bathroom, and my Mum has a way of putting things together brilliantly. I have memories of visiting places like Alfie’s Antique Market with her, near where we lived, and going to antiques fairs with her and my aunt. And she used to have a lot of scrapbooks of colours and fabrics and pictures from magazines that she liked; this was in the days before Pinterest! It has always been a part of my life.”
On leaving university Lonika interned with a few designers and soft furnishing brands but it was after her travels in India, where she was inspired by the wonderful fabrics and vibrant colours, to start a career in interiors. Mementos from her travels, and those of her parents and grandparents, fill the house.
LONIKA’S SON SASHA’S BEDROOM PAPERED IN ‘ALICE IN WONDERLAND’ WALLPAPER BY CFA VOYSEY FROM TRUSTWORTH STUDIOS AND WOODWORK PAINTED IN FARROW & BALL’S ‘PICTURE GALLERY RED’. IMAGE: MILO BROWN
“It’s so important to have things in your home that you love and that bring you joy. Especially now, when we’re stuck at home. I have some pieces from my late grandparents’ house in Tanzania, and I like to display things like postcards and little drawings and thank you notes from friends. It’s all part of making your house your home. We have a much-loved wicker elephant that we picked up at a brocante just outside Paris and an antique coffee table that my son uses for all his trains – which is killing us slightly because it’s getting so scratched!
“There are a few things in my son’s room that were mine when I was a little girl and we have a pretty needlework bird made by my great aunt, as well as lots of artwork that is very special to us – things that my mum or aunt has painted or made. Pieces that are made by people we love are the most special.”
If the objects in Lonika’s home could speak, they would certainly have some fascinating stories to tell. That’s what feels so magical about her warm, welcoming and highly decorative style; her house and those she designs for others all tell the unique stories of the people fortunate enough to call them home.
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