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Domus Nova – Ilona, 94 Ravenscourt Road – 5_Lo
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Restaurateur and collector Ilona Pacia reveals how she turned this neglected Ravenscourt Road townhouse into an inviting place to live.

Lined with mature trees and pristine period façades, and running parallel to its namesake park, it’s hard to imagine a dilapidated building on Ravenscourt Road. However, when Ilona Pacia took on one of the street’s distinctive heritage homes, it was close to being derelict.

Half of the garden was designated as a bomb shelter and between the first and the second viewing, the ceiling in the dining room collapsed. “There were times when I thought, what was I thinking?” Ilona recalls with a smile.

The resulting renovation spotlights the property’s original features, enlivened with a curated collection of artworks. “It’s easier to restructure than preserve, but I wanted to keep as many of the period elements as possible,” she adds.

“Surrounding yourself with creativity is better than surrounding yourself with the most beautiful furniture.”

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Halfway between a home and a gallery, colourful paintings, one-off prints and curious photographs elevate each room. Among the most eye-catching, a dramatic Robert Fry piece adds a bold backdrop to family meals in the dining room. Meanwhile in the kitchen, a gallery wall features work by the likes of Zoobs – a multimedia creator dubbed the next Andy Warhol. “It’s nice to have a space where it doesn’t feel like it’s made for a certain purpose,” Ilona says of her design approach, which imbues even the most functional rooms with an aesthetic feel. “Surrounding yourself with creativity is better than surrounding yourself with the most beautiful furniture,” she muses.

Upstairs, a calming colour palette makes for peaceful sleeping spaces. In the principal bedroom suite, a piece by Tide and Jimmie Martin depicts the model Kate Moss as the late Queen Elizabeth II. In the bathroom, Lewis & Wood wallpaper features a dazzling black and gold pattern.

An abundance of art demands the right lighting, which Ilona has selected with painstaking precision. She spent three days hanging the coloured glass discs that comprise the dining room chandelier, tweaking the composition until it felt right.

“Cosmopolitan Hammersmith and Brackenbury Village are close by – it’s the best of both worlds.”

“I’ve always loved art,” Ilona affirms, adding that one of the best pieces of advice she’s ever received was to buy a new piece every year. Channelling this love of collecting into running a gallery, she worked with artists such as Damien Hirst before establishing Italian restaurant Villa di Geggiano, a Chiswick outpost of the Tuscan winery and stately home of the same name. As you might imagine, Ilona uses the spaces to showcase the work of resident painters, photographers and glassblowers.

Back at Ravenscourt Road, for those able to take their eyes off the walls, the neighbourhood offers a tranquil reprieve from the thrum of London. “You’ve got cosmopolitan Kensington on the doorstep, whereas Chiswick is very residential,” Ilona explains. “Hammersmith and Brackenbury Village are close by – it’s the best of both worlds.”

There are also several independent galleries within a 10-minute walk, not that you need to leave the house to get your fill of inspiration. “You would run out of surfaces,” Ilona says of her love of collecting. “The art becomes part of your daily routine – it’s part of who you are. I hope someone enjoys it.”

Ravenscourt Road is available for long and short let