This week: South Hill Park, Hampstead Heath, NW3
What: A six bedroom Victorian terrace designed by a fashionista and her advertising guru husband.
We say: With stellar views over the Heath, the ponds and beyond, this slice of North West London chic has been featured in Grazia, The Times and the Evening Standard Magazine. Homes that back onto Hampstead Heath don’t come up very often and this one even has its own private gate leading into one of London’s most celebrated green spaces.
Londoners Helen and John Townshend liked their Hampstead neighbourhood so much they decided to move across the road when looking for a larger home for their growing brood six years ago - proving the often-said mantra that most homes moves are under five miles.
Now, the couple are moving again, this time to downsize, and have put their six-bedroom home, set across five floors, on the market.
“This home is too big for us,” says Helen. “I’ve got an older daughter who’s moving out and a son at university who will soon follow suit.” So that leaves just Isobel, nine, and George, seven, still at home along with husband John, who is the creative director of Now Advertising Agency.
Tucked away at the quiet end of Hampstead Heath’s South Hill Park Gardens, the Townshend’s home feels more country house than city pad. After entering through a grand foyer and climbing the stairs to the first floor, the real draw card of this house – the view – reveals itself.
The vista, which gets even better as you work your way to the upper floors, takes in the home’s own gardens, Hampstead Heath ponds, the heath itself and stretches all the way to the dreamy Christchurch spire on the hill in Hampstead. There’s also a charming view of the Hampstead rooftops from the front of the house.
Helen Townshend, now a business consultant, is the woman behind fashion label Chin Choi, which shut up shop a couple of years ago. It’s no surprise she used her flare for design to create a memorable home – and one that’s been featured in interior spreads in Grazia, The Times and the Evening Standard Magazine.
The home was a labour of love for the Townshends who began the project by uncovering some of the property’s period charms, including ceiling flowers and ornate mouldings which had disappeared after being repeatedly painted over.
They also set about making it into a functioning family home. At one stage the property had been divided into bedsits so there were a lot of bathrooms and half-landings which were removed by the Townshends.
“We came in and we had all these grand plans, but we decided to just live in it a bit and see what happened and we ended up doing it quite gradually,” Townshend says. “We wanted to make sure we kept this really lovely feeling of being a family home. It always felt really warm and we didn’t want to destroy that.”
One of the first changes the Townshends made was to convert the entire first floor into a huge master suite complete with a luxurious dressing room and ensuite.
“It had actually been three bedrooms when we moved in,”, Townshend says. They also added a much-needed boot room, redid the floors and created an ingenuous family study on the first floor landing.
And the couple turned their attention to the downstairs large semi open plan kitchen, dining room and family reception area, which is now decorated with Townshend’s eclectic art collection and opens out onto a welcoming garden.
There’s also a 39 foot formal reception room on the ground floor. “It’s a wonderful family home, but it’s also ideal for entertaining – the space works very well.”
Townshend has lived in Hampstead for 12 years and plans to find a new home in the area. “I love it, absolutely love it,” she says. “When I work in town and I’m in the middle of London, it’s wonderful and buzzy, but then as you come up the hill to Hampstead you can feel the temperature drop and the air get cleaner. I spend most of my time walking on the Heath, which has such a community feel.”
And she’s in no doubt about who would suit this home. “It’s definitely a family home, and it’s for a family who like being at home. It’s for people who love being able to be outside and want to be part of a community. That’s what it feels like to me, it feels like a community. It’s warm and friendly.”
Watch our video interview with Helen Townshend:
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It’s definitely a family home, and it’s for a family who like being at home