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Domus Nova – Christiana – 1_Lo

On the doorstep to the ‘lungs of London’, and with an unrivalled view of the capital’s skyline, Christiana Marran fell for the best-of-both worlds feel of her Hampstead home.

Hampstead is probably as close to a chocolate box-esque village as you’ll get in London. With sprawling heathland on the doorstep, independent businesses scattered along its high street and quaint alleyways like Flask Walk, it’s a pocket of peace in Zone Two.

“This house is very well positioned between the Tube, the village and the heath,” says owner Christiana Marran of her Well Road home. “Just a few hundred yards down the street and you’re in 800 acres of trees, meadows and wild swimming ponds.”

Just look out of the second-floor window of Christiana’s townhouse though and you’ll see the whole of the London skyline stretch out before you. The London Eye. The Emirates Stadium. The BT Tower. A magnificent urban sprawl on the horizon, countered by the immediate vicinity of leafy trees and Victorian townhouses. “The view gets better as you go up,” she notes, with the third-floor principal suite afforded the best panorama. “We love to see the skyline lit up at night. It feels like quintessential London from up high.”

Built in the late 1800s and formerly a shopfront for The Old White Bear – the historic and much-loved neighbouring pub, which was saved from closure by residents – the house has been through several iterations. When Christiana bought the property some years ago it was rather neglected and divided into two uninspiring flats. A seasoned home renovator – “this was not our first rodeo” – she set about opening up the space and making it more suitable for family life with her husband and four teenage children.

Architect Thomas Griem of TG Studio capitalised on the height available, transforming the building into a unified five-floor dwelling. A kitchen extension with two lightwells completes the main living space on the ground floor. A convivial communal hub, it also encompasses a formal seating area with Hans Wegner Shell chairs and a dining room. A more informal sitting room and bar awaits on the floor above, along with a suntrap terrace. “That’s one of the great things about living in a house that’s on a lot of levels; it feels much bigger than it actually is.”

Christiana worked on the interiors herself, enlisting the help of Audrey Carden of Carden Cunietti for a refresh in 2022 once the kids had flown the nest for university. Among some of the more recent updates is the statement panelled headboard in the principal bedroom suite, upholstered with Toyine Sellers textiles handwoven in the South of France. Considered design touches throughout continue this elevated feel. One particularly ingenious flourish is the large pocket door to the en suite bathroom, one side of which features a full-length mirror.

“Less than a few hundred yards down the street and you’re among endless parkland”


The heart of the home is the Poggenpohl kitchen. Its tardis-like cabinets offer “space for everything”, including a wine fridge, a pull-out pantry and a huge Gaggenau fridge freezer. Dark smoked mirror splashbacks reflect the light streaming in from the skylights above, making the space feel altogether deeper.

Clearly, this is a house designed for hosting – note the integrated banquette seating around the large dining table and the deep Minotti sofa and Gubi Pacha Lounge chairs in the upstairs living room, which can seat the whole family. It’s also somewhere that serves the nuts and bolts of everyday life. Practicality has been considered throughout; in the laundry room, you’ll find a supersized American washing machine and a separate tumble drier – a nod to Christiana’s transatlantic upbringing between North London and the States.

“Even when I design a house not for me to live in, I approach the project as if I was living there,” she says of her creative mantra. Other signatures include the use of natural materials and neutral tones. At Well Road, this understated palette contributes to the calming energy – and provides the backdrop for statement artworks, from an eye-catching map of the capital by Paula Scher to a bright Patrick Heron.

“It’s a very relaxing house. It just has a peaceful, calm feel. Every time I wake up here after I’ve been away for a time, I breathe a sigh of relief”

“It’s a very relaxing house,” says Christiana. “It just has a peaceful, calm feel. Every time I wake up here after I’ve been away for a time, I breathe a sigh of relief.” Undoubtedly, the Hampstead setting plays a starring role to life at Well Road. For Christiana and her husband, evening meals usually end with a walk on the heath, often encountering not another soul.

The action, though, isn’t far away. “Just being able to walk your dog in peace every morning on Hampstead Heath, in the middle of the city, before you commute into the centre of town later that day, that’s a really great feeling.”

Well Road is available for short let at £7,500 p/w