By Andrea Childs
For English elegance with Aussie rules, welcome to Sydney-born lifestyle entrepreneur Sommer Pyne’s beaut of a South London home.
Sommer Pyne, founder of House Curious lifestyle workshops, lives in a six-bedroom Victorian house in Wandsworth, South London, with husband Will, who works in digital media, and their daughter Lyla-Rose, three.
This is a home with dual nationality – one part Aussie sunshine and openness, one part English elegance and reserve.
‘I wanted some rooms to feel light and airy, like a Sydney home, and others to be dark and moody,’ explains Sommer. ‘When I planned the kitchen with its skylight and huge glass wall, Will said, “Remember, we’re in London; it rains – a lot.” But I love that antipodean, inside-outside vibe and it felt right for this house.’
‘I have a passion for food and design, which come together in the kitchen,’ says Sommer. The marble and brass island by Matrix Design (matrixkitchens.co.uk), concrete floor by Lazenby (lazenby.co.uk) and exposed-bulb lights from Buster + Punch (busterandpunch.com) are typical of Sommer’s industrial-meets-elegant style. The table is from Amode (amode.co.uk). For Eames DSW by Vitra chairs, try John Lewis (johnlewis.com). The hanging chair is from Scandinavian Design Center (scandinaviandesigncenter.com)
The four-storey, six-bedroom Victorian property had already been extended but Sommer’s vision required a further overhaul. Working with ADE Architecture (ade-architecture.co.uk), she designed a wider extension for the back, plus a basement to include a guest room with ensuite, gym, cinema room and a bar that opens out on to the garden. ‘I didn’t want the basement to feel dingy, so the rooms have high ceilings and there’s a double-height space that brings in light from the ground floor. It meant six months of digging,’ she says.
On the ground floor, there’s more light-dark contrast, with a black-walled living room and a white family room. The master suite on the first floor is split level, with a grey-painted bedroom and steps down to a spa-like bathroom. ‘It’s my escape when life gets too full-on,’ says Sommer.
The elegant living room is the dark heart of the house; the place to kick back with friends and a cocktail. The parquet flooring is from The Natural Wood Floor Company (naturalwoodfloor.co.uk). The pendant light is by Lambert & Fils (lambertetfils.com). Above the original fireplace, which the couple had refurbished, is artwork Father and Son by Dan Hillier (danhillier.com) – a modern take on the traditional stag’s head above the fire
The family room is the flipside to the adjoining dark living room; a bright space where Lyla-Rose plays. The vintage chairs are from Pure White Lines (purewhitelines.com), the side table is from Graham and Green (grahamandgreen.co.uk). The planter and rug are both from West Elm (westelm.com)
For Sommer, this house wasn’t just about reconciling her Aussie roots and English lifestyle – it was about discovering a new direction for herself. ‘When my daughter was born three months early, it turned our life upside down. At the same time, I wanted to leave the ad industry, where I’d been working, and unite my love for interior design, crafts and cookery,’ she explains.
‘I had thought of opening a lifestyle boutique and then, during the renovation, the penny dropped – our home could be a business.’ She now runs workshops on everything from candle making to calligraphy in her kitchen and living room, and has just expanded into an online boutique.
‘The bar felt like a crazy indulgence but I knew it would be perfect for hosting my workshops and events,’ says Sommer. The bar sign is a tribute to her grandparents. ‘My nanna’s two loves were scotch and her husband Ted,’ she says. The couple designed the bar and Made By Jason And Company (madebyjason.co.uk) constructed it. The bar top is by The Copper & Zinc Bar Company (thecopperandzincbarco.com). The stools are from catering supplier Nisbets (nisbets.co.uk)
‘The stairs connect the ground floor to the new basement. We wanted a modern design with industrial cues.’ The result is concrete and oak steps with a bespoke metal handrail. The butterfly chair was bought in Argentina; the poster at a vintage fair
The guest bathroom is an example of how well the couple work together – Sommer came up with the look and Will painstakingly designed it. The basin is by Kast Concrete Basins (kastconcretebasins. com) and set on a handmade cabinet from RCC Furniture (rcc-furniture.com). The copper taps were put together by their plumber, based on designs the couple had seen on Pinterest. The flooring is from Tiles-Direct (tiles-direct.com). The vintage wall lights are from Industville (industville.co.uk)
Does it feel odd to share her home with strangers? ‘Aussies tend to have an open-door policy, so it’s probably weirder for Will,’ she says.
‘But we’ve had fun decorating the house together. It might be a business but ultimately it’s a forever home for our family.’
‘This is where I come to hide!’ laughs Sommer, whose first-floor master suite boasts a bedroom, bathroom and dressing room (there’s also a guest room next door). After carefully sourcing the bedside table, brass hanging lights and metal chair, she now stocks these in her own online shop (housecurious.co.uk). The Sky Circles print is from Holly’s House (hollys-house.com). For similar bedding try The Linen Works (thelinenworks.co.uk). Larch flooring from The Natural Wood Company (naturalwoodfloor.co.uk) clads the steps that lead to the adjoining bathroom
‘We sacrificed a bedroom to create this ensuite – it’s my favourite room; luxurious but laid-back and peaceful,’ says Sommer. The new window was added by the architect, and Sommer has hung gauzy drapes for a spa-like feel. The oval bath and taps are by Castello (castellobaths.co.uk). The marble basin was designed by Karena Clayton from Colour Interiors (colourinteriors.com) and made by Marble City (marble-city.co.uk)
Lyla-Rose’s bedroom boasts pretty peach and copper tones. For a similar wall paint colour, try Little Greene’s Dorchester Pink (littlegreene.com). The sheep rug is from Graham and Green (grahamandgreen.co.uk). Sommer made the bunting and bought the pompoms from Not On The High Street (notonthehighstreet.com)
For Sommer’s workshops, visit housecurious.co.uk