Tucked away in a sleepy part of Shepherd’s Bush sits model and actress Poppy Delevingne’s house, a pretty period townhouse on a quiet, blossom-lined street. But that quaint façade doesn’t tell the full story: step inside and you’ll find a riot of colour and mismatching prints and patterns, alongside dark lacquered walls, whimsical wallpaper and vintage treasures.
Poppy Delevingne and her husband James Cook (who is CEO of his family’s aviation company) bought the house in 2015, a year after their wedding, after hearing about the property through Delevingne’s aunt and immediately falling in love with it. They wanted to give it a complete overhaul, however, so they tasked Putney-based architect Alex Tart with removing all the staircases, raising the ceilings and even digging into the garden to excavate a spot for Delevingne’s study – at one point the house was just a shell, where you could see from down in the basement all the way up to the roof.
It was two years before they were able to move in, after months of Cook hand-delivering drawings for planning permissions to the neighbours’ houses to get their approval. Delevingne has described the project as “a labour of love” and said the most important element was to make sure it was a true reflection of her and her husband. Which is why she enlisted the help of west London-based interior designer Joanna Plant to pull together the house’s broad mix of designs.
“I met Poppy and James through Poppy’s aunt, but the decorating deal was actually cut between Poppy and my husband, Nick, at Glastonbury,” explains Plant. “Which, if you know Poppy, won’t be at all surprising!” Her brief for the house was “grown-up fun”, which Plant carried out to a T, from the floor-to-ceiling Martinique banana-leaf wallpaper in the ground-floor guest bathroom (which also famously graces the walls of The Beverly Hills Hotel) to the house’s gleaming red-painted bar, which was where Plant started the project – because, according to the interior designer, “every house needs a bar”.
“Conceptually, I was clear from the outset what the aesthetic would be and I was able to draw on so many good references – The Bel-Air hotel, holidays in the south of France, sexy hotel lobbies and old Hollywood glamour,” explains Plant. ‘Poppy has very good design credentials, having grown up in houses decorated by Nina Campbell, and so I knew that she understood about being brave with colour and the importance of good furniture.”
The design process was carried out in a thoroughly modern way – with both Delevingne and Cook travelling constantly for work, traditional sketches and mood boards were ditched in favour of group text messages, with Plant pinging over photographs or ideas and everyone responding instantly in whatever time zone they happened to be in. “Working with Jo was a dream come true,” says Delevingne. “The whole experience was totally seamless and by the end we were practically finishing each other’s sentences.” The couple’s travels provided a large part of the inspiration for the house. Their cosy sitting room – which Delevingne has said she wanted to feel “mysterious and naughty” – was inspired by the Hôtel Costes in Paris and features glossy dark walls painted in Farrow & Ball’s Hague Blue, multi-coloured lightning-shaped mirrors by Bride & Wolfe (inspired by Delevingne’s hero, David Bowie), and gold Hans Koegl palm-tree lamps. The pièce de résistance, however, is the enormous blood-red velvet sofa, custom made by Plant, which Delevingne has cited as her favourite piece in the house – mainly because it’s the best place to take naps.
“My favourite room in the house would have to be my dusty-pink bedroom,” says Delevingne. “The wallpaper is linen and first thing in the morning, when the light comes in, it’s like you’re in a cocoon. It glows, and I find it so calming.” Fresh and feminine without feeling overly saccharine or girly, the rose-pink Fromental wallpaper is paired with an enormous Ensemblier headboard, covered in a pink mohair velvet by Claremont. The master bathroom also features a pink-painted C.P. Hart bathtub to match, offset by an exquisite hand-painted silk wall covering by De Gournay. Cook was said to be less than impressed with his wife’s choice of colour scheme at first, but Delevingne insists he’s come around to it.
It’s the downstairs guest bathroom that Plant chooses as her favoured room, because “we had to shoehorn it into what was an almost impossibly small space under the stairs, but we did it, and the Martinique banana leaf wallpaper is such an unexpected surprise”.
The house is an eclectic mix of old and new, which has come to be known as Plant’s signature style. It is her husband, Nick, who sources all the antiques and commissions the bespoke furniture pieces – always made in British workshops – such as Delevingne’s bespoke sofas and the downstairs bathroom sink. Delevingne also loves to scour antique shops for special pieces for her home – her favourite spots include Golborne Road in Notting Hill and Kempton Market, the twice-monthly antiques market at Kempton Park Racecourse in Surrey.
When she’s in Los Angeles, a place she visits frequently for filming, she’ll head to the Rose Bowl Flea Market. Top finds include the vintage wicker peacock chair that sits proudly in the master bedroom and the vintage brass desk in Delevingne’s study, which also features a custom neon sign and a Fiona Mcdonald chair covered in blue palm-print House of Hackney fabric (Delevingne’s go-to for patterned fabrics). For more modern pieces, Delevingne will head to The Conran Shop or OKA.
The house is a trove of treasures, filled with delights and surprises at every turn, and yet you’d never guess from the outside, as it looks just like any other typical London townhouse, on any other residential street. But in Delevingne’s words, “grown-up fun” was the order of the day here – and that’s exactly what Plant has achieved.
“We had such fun working together. Delevingne is the sweetest person and making her first home for her was the best – we just got each other, which made the whole process such a joy,” says Plant. “I am really proud that the house is standing the test of time. The colour schemes are pretty punchy and not for the faint-hearted, but it’s the brave moves in decoration that give the most long-term happiness.”
FROM TOP: SWEETPEA & WILLOW Bellamy mirror in brass, £1,060, sweetpeaandwillow.com, HEALS Mega Junction Chandelier, £399, heals.com, BRIDE & WOLFE Perspex mirror wall hanging, £125, antipodream.co.uk, C.P. HART Winchester freestanding bath, £1,840, cphart.co.uk, BELLA FREUD Large 1970 candle, £110, amara.com, HANS KÖGL Vintage gilt palm tree floor lamp, £6,095, 1stdibbs.com, GEORG JENSEN Alfredo Vase, £145, georgjensen.com, DIANE JAMES Faux Peony & Tulip flower bouquet, £600, luxdeco.com, HOUSE OF HACKNEY Rex fringed velvet cushion, £165, houseofhackney.com, ATT PYNTA Bianca ruby red velvet sofa, £1,995, attpynta.com, BRIDIE HALL Alphabet pen pot, £40, libertylondon.com, EICHHOLTZ Mirage swivel chair, £1,042, oroa.com