It’s only fitting that a stucco eagle protrudes over the portico of the home of Alison Loehnis, an American powerhouse in London. “In fact, it’s a very British eagle,” notes the head of fashion, president of luxury and fashion at Net-a-Porter, Mr. Porter and The Outnet. Two years ago, her family of four landed in the Georgian townhouse on a 19th-century garden site with ionic colonnades and aquiline statuettes. Attributed to Scottish landscape architect John Claudius Loudon, the residence is one of several allegedly built to house Wellington’s returning victorious officers.
The homing instinct of the Loehnis family was also strong. Her husband, Alexander, who works in financial communications, grew up on the site and took Loehnis to see his childhood home early in their relationship. “It was a hidden secret oasis with a wonderful sense of privacy, yet somehow community,” she recalls.
When their current house went on sale, Loehnis looked past insensitive interventions to see large bones and proportions. Claire Sa and Max de Rosee from the architecture and design studio De Rosee Sa revived the house’s classic character, improved Georgian moldings and architraves and restored much of the original layout. On the lower ground floor, a narrow garage became a trunk leading to the pantry and kitchen, freeing the formal entrance from the clutter of everyday life. (“I like heat, but not clutter,” Loehnis notes.) Dropping the existing rear extension, meanwhile, allowed for a kitchen and a family room (they call it “snug”) across a single level.
Loehnis sits down in one of two Arne Hovmand-Olsen lounge chairs in his living room and talks about the interior design process. “This room is a great example of things found at auction in lockdown – the French console from the late 1800s, the travertine table.” Picasso prints flank the fireplace and maintain a symmetry consistent with Georgian beliefs. Careful memories mingle, among them finds from John Martin (a favorite gallery owner) and clusters of stones collected in Pantelleria. “My husband and daughter hunt for them for hours.” Italy reappears in the couple’s bedroom with a large-scale photograph of Massimo Vitali.
“My interior taste is broader than my fashion,” notes Loehnis, the image of relaxed calm. “I’m more likely to go in color.” Shades intensify throughout the house, with a grenache guest bath and a moody blue library planned as a family hangout until a hefty Zoom schedule turned it into her personal workplace. Alexander got his own “think box” with oak panels, while another room upstairs was reconfigured into a study for their son. The whole family and more can gather at the dining room’s bespoke De Rosee Sa lacquered table, which was recently expanded to seat 14 for her inaugural “Americans and Friends in London” Thanksgiving. The versatile lower level runs into the back yard from which the family’s Norfolk terrier, Tuppy (as in Tuppence), walks. De Rosee Sa worked with Tulip Landscapes to create a classic rectangular garden with flower beds, a Himalayan cherry tree and steps leading to the gym, framed in black timber.
“Alison appreciated that old and new fit well together in creating an individual home with soul and atmosphere,” Sa says of the results. “The home is such an extension of your style,” adds Loehnis, whose latest find combines comfort (an Erdem rug) and collectibility (a Vanderohe Curio bowl). In furniture, as in fashion, she notes, “buy only things that last.”