Interiorssneak peeks

When Renovation Meets Collaboration

by Shannon Grant

Graphic designer Jon Harvey (also known as Big Jon) has lived in this London home for about 12 years now. Six years ago he and his partner, Stuart, decided to move in together, and rather than just combining their belongings in what was up until then only Jon’s home, they made the definitive move to transform the space into something new that they could both call their own. This meant a renovation that doubled the ground-floor living space and transformed the property overall. The result is an open and airy space, filled with an eclectic mix of art and mid-century furniture and objects set against a mostly white backdrop. These graphic pops of color create an aesthetic that mirrors Big Jon’s playful stationery collection. They loved being involved in every part of the process, from working with the architects to developing the interior design. Most importantly, Jon and Stuart love that their home is now truly a reflection of the two of them. Shannon

Photography by Jon Harvey

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Architectural features such as the pitched roof in the living room help make the space feel bigger. The unadorned wall provides a quiet moment in the space. Here we see the familiar Farrow & Ball “Hague Blue” that is painted elsewhere in the home. The sofa is Designers Guild and the Picasso cushion is by The Conran Shop. 
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The oak floor has underfloor heating which Jon and Stuart refer to as Sydney, since "it’s hot down under." The skylight provides great light and becomes more of a focal point at Christmas when they hang giant paper bells from it.
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The bathroom is a small, yet functional space (As Jon says, "no parties in here") that they kept simple, white and neutral. They decided the best way to add a punch of color was with a bath mat or towel, which they say are easier to change regularly than the tiles.
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The textured charcoal wallpaper in the bedroom is by Osbourne & Little, it is also in part of the bathroom directly off of this room. Jon says that the first floor of the house is small, but rather than try and make it feel bigger with light colors they decided to embrace its size and went “dark, dark, dark.” The result is a space that is cool in the summer and cozy in the winter. The large 1950s print was purchased at a market in Notting Hill. The porcelain dog was found at a car boot sale (a type of house and garden market popular in the UK). Jon says he guards over him while he’s asleep. You will notice that there is a bit of a dog motif featured throughout the home.
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This print was purchased at a jumble sale about 15 years ago. It is a 1960s classic and Jon says it reminds him of his aunt and uncle who had similar artworks in their home when he was growing up in the 70s. This wall originally had a window, but they decided to remove it when the house was renovated, as Jon and Stuart felt it was too fussy and had an awkward shape.
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As with any home renovation, a homeowner must decide what is worth investing in and what is not. Jon and Stuart knew they didn’t want to scrimp on the flooring (oak floorboards with underfloor heating in the living room) and these bi-fold doors. They are about 13 feet wide and were ordered from Germany. When they are open the space feels much bigger and they love how it blends the outdoors with the indoors. As Jon says, “It’s our little bit of Palm Springs in London.”
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Though Jon rents a workspace in town for his design business and stationery brand, he will occasionally work from home. When that happens, the dining table becomes his office, “Big Jon Inc,” as Jon refers to it, with just a computer and a notepad.
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The dog motif is partially rooted in the fact that Jon and Stuart dream about having a dog (or two) one day. But with busy work schedules, that dream is on hold for now. This life-size greyhound was purchased at a trade show Jon attended a few years back.
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Since the kitchen, dining and living space are all part of an open plan, it was important to make sure that all rooms worked together. Jon says the kitchen was relatively inexpensive - they decided to keep the top cabinets simple and clean. They didn’t want them to attract too much attention when seen from the rest of the space. The great thing about the simplicity of the cabinets was that it allowed the tiles, imported from Italy, to really pop.
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They bought the orange tray at Fishs Eddy, while on a trip to New York.
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This is the kitchen viewed from the dining area. Clean, white and neutral, just as they intended. The wall and door in the back is painted with Farrow & Ball's "Hague Blue." It's also the color that was used in the living room, which helps connect the overall space. The cupboard hides the washing machine.
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Jon says that he’s always loved seeing lots of different styles of pictures grouped together. I would have to agree, as it is such great eye candy. Jon is a firm believer in the Diana Vreeland quote: “The eye has to travel,” and he says this wall is always a great conversation piece for guests. The ampersand print is from a pop-up shop in Carnaby Street. The long shelf stand was custom built for the space.
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One of the major focal points of this open-plan space is the pair of Hans Wegner chairs are that were purchased from a mid-century modern dealer. They were the first furniture purchase for the new interior. Jon and Stuart love how they look great from every angle. They also serve as dividers between the living and dining areas. The tapestry dog cushions were a bargain find from years ago.
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Through the years, it's common for furniture style preferences to evolve, but some pieces stand the test of time and though they may not "match," they still work. Jon has owned this oak chest for over 20 years and he says it looks great wherever he lives. The calculator print is from the Pick Me Up graphic art fair, which takes place every spring at Somerset House in London. The black Anglepoise (a design classic) is from The Conran Shop. Farrow & Ball's "Hague Blue" appears again on this wall.
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The 1960s dining table and chairs are both by G PLAN and were found on eBay. The chairs are reupholstered in a mustard Kvadrat fabric. The blue melamine bowl on the table is from Fishs Eddy in New York. The pop of yellow paint on the inner wall divide is Farrow & Ball "Yellow Pink."
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The blue and black pencil candles are a playful design detail. The fruit print is from an antique fair and the white twigs were bought at a Christmas sale.
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The black credenza in the dining area is by IKEA. Jon says “I am pleased to say that I made it, but it did take me around 10 hours and I was crying with frustration for about half that time, they don’t put that on the instructions, do they? I won’t be winning any DIY awards anytime soon.” The blue and yellow screen print is a Howard Hodgkin original from 1971, bought at the first and only art auction Jon has attended. The collection of plates are all John Derian. The candelabra was another sale bargain find.
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Jon describes the collection of artwork starting from the top, counter clockwise: “The lithograph at the top was one of the first ‘grown-up’ artworks I bought, I have had it over 20 years and remember it cost £25. The tiny beach scene oil painting was bought at a Bricante in Cognac, the best 1 Euro I have ever spent.” The two black frames hold postcards from John Derian. The three-dimensional caged bird was a birthday gift from a friend. The tangerine oil painting is an antique shop find on a visit to Provincetown, MA a few years ago. The oil painting portrait is a particular favorite and was another car boot sale find. The wooden chest has also been with Jon for over 20 years and fits well with nearly anything.
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  • The hardest part about moving in together is taking it from “your” or “my” place to “our” place, and they’ve shown us how it is done.

    I especially love the all white bathroom :-)

  • What a gorgeous light and airy space. It has that feeling of a gallery, so much to keep your mind busy, yet so many places to feel calm. I would not have ever thought to leave that giant wall blank, but it works so well.

  • There are too many wonderful things in this home to list everything I love, so I’ll just hit the highlights–the giant bi-fold doors that create a wall of windows is my DREAM, the unique decor items (especially the dog sculpture–so cool) add so much character, and the tiny Persian rug mouse pad Jon uses made me laugh! I have to find one!

  • really adore the humor of this home…so many interesting pieces with great stories behind them. the yellow paint on the inner wall is genius. and i just love hearing how they saved and splurged their way to a beautiful home. what a great tour!

  • We have the good fortune to be friends of Jon and Stu so we have had the pleasure of visiting this jewel in person.

    It is the most wonderful space and everything has a place and has been thought through very carefully. The minute you walk in there is a feeling of being very relaxed and you just enjoy the experience.

    It really is a total reflection of two people who are both very talented and know exactly what they want from the home they live in – inspiring and lovely to be in

  • I was really surprised to see that your dining table is like mine. I got mine trough my father-in-law who used to own a modern furniture store in Barcelona, Spain. In fact, the table was at the warehouse, and I felt in love. Didn’t know was a well-known brand from England, but also suspicious that the item had some “pedigree”.