“I often do a lot of hiring and firing in here,” interior designer Anouska Hempel says of the breakfast room in her Regency-style home in London’s Holland Park district. “From business meetings to entertaining with friends, this room has seen a lot of drama.”
The appearance of the stage for those dramas has changed over time, because Hempel—known as LW or Lady Weinberg since her 1980 marriage to insurance tycoon Sir Mark Weinberg—alters the decor of her home’s rooms every few years. “My house is my showroom. I come up with new concepts all the time and take them to the limit,” she says. Previous incarnations of the breakfast room have included motifs of all white and of black and gray. Now it takes shape as a gold- and yellow-toned jewel box that holds her collections of rare cricket cages made from Chinese ivory, porcupine quill boxes from India, and Roman seals, which hang on the walls. The 400-square-foot space is located off of the kitchen and leads to double balconies that overlook the garden in the back of the house. To the left stands a slate fireplace, and to the right is a bench with silk-upholstered cushions, above which hangs an Elizabethan portrait.
“I always start with the floor and work my way up the walls. You have to have a good foundation to build upon,” says Hempel, who, when she owned London’s Blakes and Hempel hotels, designed their interiors. “Everything comes together from the ground up. It’s the layering of life: You have to refine the undertones and overtones, and it all comes together.” The room’s layers include a wide-plank pine floor treated to look like the floor of an old farmhouse, 300-year-old Japanese Sudari blinds lined with black silk, custom-made silk draperies, amber and ivory cutlery, and two antique snuff boxes shaped like greyhounds. “There are lots of things to have polished every day,” notes Hempel.
She describes the style as Dutch revival, with Regency-style accents that tie in with the rest of the house. “The challenge with any project is always in making something new look very settled,” explains Hempel. “In the end, though, the room is warm and interesting, a lot like me.”