Angela Dunn’s glamorous London home

New Zealand model Angela Dunn and her designer husband have completed a glamorous makeover in one of London’s most exciting neighbourhoods

Words Michael Paul  Photos Michael Paul  Issue   Related topics ,

 

Mention “the strip” and you’ll likely conjure up mental images of a blingy, neon-bright boulevard – Las Vegas-style – but “the Strip” is also the local moniker for an urbane thoroughfare in London’s hippest neighbourhood, Notting Hill Gate.

Its real name is Westbourne Grove and these days it’s festooned with smart shops and restaurants and opulent houses. Attracted by the edgy location and elegant architecture, the glitterati have made their homes in and around the area. It’s not uncommon to rub shoulders with rock stars buying a baguette or flicking through the clothing racks in the upmarket boutiques.

However, for those with an eye for New Zealand’s native flora there is a surprise in store. A short walk past Bill Granger’s Australian-style eatery are two New Zealand cabbage trees in the front garden of a graceful grey Georgian house. As you might expect, it’s the home of a New Zealander – international model Angela Dunn who, with her English husband Colin Radcliffe, an architectural and interior designer, has recently renovated this landmark building. (Angela and Colin’s previous home in London’s Lancaster Gate featured in NZ House & Garden’s February 2007 issue.)

Built in 1760 as a rectory for the local church, the house was turned into nine poky flats sometime in the 1960s. Angela and Colin have restored it in their signature style, creating a spacious, light and airy family home for themselves and their 10-year-old son Maximus.

A familiar figure around Notting Hill, usually kitted out in casually stylish jeans and boots, Angela had had her eye on the house for some years. “We have always lived in the neighbourhood, but this is one of my favourite streets.

“We were very conscious of the house’s origins, so we were keen to retain its integrity and reinstate some of the classic values, but it had to be completely modernised to make it liveable.”

Colin, who already had some knowledge of London Regency (or late Georgian) houses, undertook detailed research before launching into the restoration of the house’s cornices, skirting boards, architraves and ceiling roses. He even designed and commissioned new panel doors in a Regency style. In the dining room, the original stained-glass windows, which pre-date the house, were repaired and an interesting discovery was made. One of the panes was painted by Hans Holbein the Younger – famed in the 16th century for his portrait of Henry VIII. Another panel dates from 1637.

After nine months of major renovations, the family moved into their new home in September 2012 and set about furnishing the interior.

“We share a love of mid-20th century classical furniture, which we have collected over the years, so we had plenty of fascinating pieces to fill the space,” says Angela.

The colour palette they settled upon is both traditional and contemporary – greys, white and black punctuated with accents of bronze and gold – making a perfect blank canvas for displaying their possessions.

As well as renovating their Georgian home, Angela leads a busy life in London. Her modelling career now spans three decades and she can still be seen splashed across leading fashion magazines and starring in TV commercials – most recently for Marks & Spencer.

“I think I have just been lucky,” says Angela modestly, “but my agent believes that having classic features has enabled me to stay in the spotlight.”

She also manages a personal shopping service for a number of A-list clients. Frequent trips to fashion shows and shopping in New York, Paris and Milan are required, along with serious time spent searching the internet and checking out new boutiques.  “I simply adore fashion so I think I have the best job in the world. But it is important that I know all the new trends and keep abreast of which designers are in at the moment.”

Their glamorous home is a useful adjunct to the businesses of both Angela and Colin, as they frequently entertain clients. But, despite this enviable, if hectic, lifestyle, Angela has her well-shod feet firmly on the ground. Her schedule is arranged so that son Maximus doesn’t miss out on a normal home life.

“Although I spend much of my time being a taxi driver ferrying Maximus to rugby, tennis, cricket or tournaments, it’s great that he is into so many things.”

Friends say Angela remains true to her New Zealand values of being caring and supportive of anyone who needs a sympathetic ear. And she’s fiercely proud of her origins. “Life can become a bit fractious when the All Blacks play England as my husband Colin is an ardent England supporter.”

Even if the couple don’t see eye to eye over rugby, the sensational five-bedroom home they’ve created together makes it clear they have harmonious tastes in interiors. The tailored, bespoke look preserves the classical features of the period and combines them with the modern comforts and conveniences of a family home on one of London’s most desirable streets.

“This is a really cool place to live,” says Angela. “Apart from having everything on the doorstep – gym, delis, cafes and florists – it’s the buzz on “the Strip” that makes it such fun.”

Q&A

My favourite room: Our black guest cloakroom adorned with some of our favourite art pieces. I also love the first floor salon. Pale grey can be very soothing and elegant. It feels sophisticated and fun hosting cocktail parties there.

The one thing you should see when you visit this area: The celebrated Portobello market – an eclectic delight of furniture, bric-a-brac, food, fashion and fun people.

My favourite local shop: There are many, but Tavola Deli owned by Alastair Little is my fave. I will often “cheat” a meal and pick up one of his delectable dinners.

Best online shopping sites: Net-a-porter.com for fashion, 1stdibs.com for furniture and amazon.com for books.

Beauty secrets: Drink lots of water, get plenty of sleep and I now drink coconut juice and sugar-free smoothies. I’ve always worn sunscreen, glamorous kaftans and hats on the beach and I love to have a medical facial a couple of times a year. I also think being well dressed can take years off your age.

Favourite designer: This season I especially like Givenchy, Balmain, Balenciaga and J Brand jeans. And I love Chanel jackets, as they go with everything.

Angela Dunn

What do you think?