Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Clear for All to See; Robert and Lindsey Hall Bought Their Home from the Shah of Iran's Chintz-Loving Brother. Thank Goodness for White Paint

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Clear for All to See; Robert and Lindsey Hall Bought Their Home from the Shah of Iran's Chintz-Loving Brother. Thank Goodness for White Paint

Article excerpt

Byline: KATRINA BURROUGHS

WHEN I meet Robert Hall, he and his television presenter wife, Lindsey, are still recovering from a three-day party at a buzzing resort in Ibiza.

Not what I expected from a couple considered among the world's leading experts in the arcane and scholarly field of antique Chinese snuff bottles.

In December 1996, the Halls moved into their 19th century, six-bedroom, stuccoed north London villa (garden, terrace, swimming pool and flat for the Filipino help included) along with Dilly, their West Highland terrier, and their two small daughters.

Says Lindsey: "The previous owner was the brother of the Shah of Iran, Prince Palawi, and the place was done up to the nines but we felt we could see beyond the chintz. The day we moved in, we painted the walls white and left them like that."

Four years passed, another daughter arrived, and the Halls began to dream of finding a way to display the art and artefacts they had collected over years of travel.

When building work next door deprived them of light on one side of the house, they were spurred to remodel their home. The project, including gutting the basement and building skylights in the worst-affected bedroom, took a year. Their budget, quickly forgotten, started at [pound]250,000.

The plan was to fit the house around their collection. Robert explains: "We wanted to create as much clear, clean space as possible to give the objects space to be recognised and enjoyed, rather than covering tables and shelves with clutter."

Lindsey worked with an architect to deliver just that: "I couldn't see the point of bringing in an interior designer. The house was a backdrop to the beautiful objects, not a decorative end in itself." And she had her own inspiration for the project. "When I was 16, I saw an ad for the perfume Chanel No 5: a beautiful woman floated into a room in a white gown and lay on white cushions as she talked to her beautiful boyfriend. I thought I 'd like to reproduce that setting."

The heart of the home is the cosy sitting room, with floor-to-ceiling windows, plenty of low-voltage wall lighting and gentle wall colour (Zoffany "chalk", bought on one of Lindsey's many trips to Chelsea Harbour).

The honey-colour, honeycomb texture Wool Classics carpet is warm underfoot.

"Ihave always loved the look of sisal but hate its feel: it's not cosy and you can't sit on it comfortably. So in the sitting room we had underfloor heating and soft carpeting.

We lost the radiators; they are ugly and take up valuable wall space." The rather ascetic style is punctuated by piles of John Lewis leopardskin cushions.

And the art, centre stage on a largely white backdrop, is indeed the star of the show. On the walls hang contemporary Chinese scroll paintings in ink and acrylic on paper. …

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