Rose Uniacke is one of those rare creatives who’s ability to curate a space comes from the deep knowledge and understanding of all its individual elements. Originally training to be a furniture restorer, she then continued on to be a gilder as well as a specialist in paint and lacquer before becoming a respected antique dealer. While she still deals in antiques today, Uniacke has also proven her talents as a furniture and lighting designer and is now an Andrew Martin Interior Designer of the Year Award-holding interior designer with clients ranging from the likes of Victoria Beckham to Jo Malone.
Growing up in Oxford, which boasts buildings in almost every style of English architecture, Uniacke credits the unique city for kindling her interest in design. She later went on to study Philosophy in London but upon graduating chose to work in a furniture-restoration workshop instead, where she quickly excelled at the craft. The subsequent years spent in France in the nineties allowed her to broaden her scope: she started off collecting furniture for her mother, an antique dealer, but then opened her own store herself. Her collection ranged in tastes and styles, from twentieth-century French and Scandinavian to Imperial Chinese, and included her own furniture line of tables, sofas and lighting. The expansion into decorating occurred naturally and unplanned, and Uniacke now divides her business equally between her shop and design studio.
Uniacke’s current London residence in Pimlico is a beautiful culmination of all her talents, and it seems only fitting that the building was in fact a late 1850’s purpose-built artist’s studio in London. Originally created by the Victorian society portrait painter James Rannie Swinton, its splendour was meant to impress wealthy clients. It’s also believed to be one of the first spaces in London that combined the artist’s studio, gallery and residence into one. During the conversion and extensive renovation the basement apartments were turned into a swimming pool and hammam, and the old painting room is now a screening room for her husband, film producer David Heyman (known for the Harry Potter films and Gravity, among others). The couple live here with their son, Harper, but thanks to their love of hosting the home is constantly filled with their other children, family and friends. In fact, the house leans itself extremely well to entertaining as people can float through the spacious rooms and beautiful outside area.
According to Uniacke, the style of the residence is “monastery meets Venetian palazzo”, and it’s easy to see why: the hallway opens to a grand staircase, the rooms are large with high ceilings and tall windows, and the Winter Garden is magical with it’s invisible brick door and wall-climbing greenery. This Winter Garden was originally the Picture Gallery, where Swinton would showcase his work to clients in the natural light. Her own sofas and lighting can be found throughout the house, and the colour palette is a warm neutral, giving the entire home a feeling of sophistication, yet ease, and a beautiful combination of old and new.
While the renovation was completed a few years ago, the home is by no means considered finished and continues to be Uniacke’s project to update and refine over the years. What is certain is that the residence established Uniacke’s reputation as one of the most talented British interior designers of our day, and she has paved the way for a new concept of chic in interior design.
Rose Uniacke, Vogue, by Jane Withers: www.roseuniacke.com, www.vogue.com
Photography by François Halard and www.gardenista.com