House tour in Hampstead, NW3, London

Mai-Lan in her bright living room on a sunny day

This week, we are visiting Mai-Lan, Vincent and Ombeline in North London. Londoners since 2009, the young French couple moved from Marylebone to their new home in Hampstead to get closer to nature.

We love the village feeling in here, the impression to be living in a little town. We also wanted to be close to a park and enjoy the wild spaces of Hampstead Heath.

Can you describe your home?

We own an 80 sqm, 2 bed flat set in a small house over several floors. We moved in a couple of years ago and loved the charm of the apartment with its high ceilings in a small charming house with only 2 flats in the very heart of Hampstead village. We enjoy the fact that it is flooded with light all day given its double East / West exposure and its large windows. When we first visited it, it had been owned by 2 brothers for more than 10 years and was in a rather poor condition but we instantly fell in love with it and saw the potential to create something which really suited us. We chose everything from the flooring to the painting and bathroom.

What do you like about your neighbourhood? Why did you choose to live there?

We love all the cute paved streets, the village feeling in here, the impression to be living in a little town and the fact there is a real neighbourhood life here. We also wanted to be close to a park and enjoy the wild spaces of Hampstead Heath. In the park, it feels like you are hundred of miles away from London.

Finally, it is a great place to be with a baby — we just had a baby girl — given the number of good schools around. It would be impossible to move to another part of London now!

What are your favourite local businesses?

Artichoke is an amazing fruit and veg grocer in Hampstead selling great products, fresh juices. Nicest team in the area! We go to Hampstead Butcher & Providore for the best meat in town and excellent cheese and wine. For something sweet, Lanka is tiny pastry shop by Finchley road owned by a Japanese chef who has been trained in gastronomic houses in France and London. They make succulent cakes with touches of Japanese tastes like matcha tea and red bean paste.

For my daughter Ombeline, I like to shop at La Coqueta: a children’s clothes shop where everything is made in Spain in luxurious materials (I love their 100% wool outfits for winter). Maison Auguste, another favorite, is an independent children’s furniture, decoration and accessories shop owned by a French lady. You can find everything from the cutest embroidered bibs to enchanting handmade mobiles and cute mirrors.

What are your favourite restaurants and bars in London?

The Ledbury is the place to go in London for a treat, with impeccable modern cuisine and a great wine list.

The Typing Room offers very innovative cuisine in a relaxed east end atmosphere — their cauliflower dish is unbelievably good. It is always nice to start the night with a cocktail at the adjacent Peg + Patriot, where most of the liquors are made in-house.

To me, Dinings is one of the best Japanese restaurants in London. It is hidden in a little street between Marylebone and Edgware Road. Try their spicy salmon and shiso sushi roll.

Set up by former chefs and maitre D from the starred Wild Honey and Arbutus restaurants, Picture Restaurant is the perfect place to go for a girls’ night out. They make good cocktails and refined small plates to share in a super friendly atmosphere. My favourite restaurant team in London.

Brasserie Zedel has the best choucroute and tarte Tatin in town. Everything is really well priced, especially for London.

Bottega Prelibato, a small Italian trattoria in Shoreditch, they make all their pasta themselves fresh on the day.

Royal China: it is always worth queuing in the weekend to enjoy their dim sums at lunch time. Special mention to their Shangai style dumplings filled with soup and yummy pork filling and the sweet custard buns.

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Just You Know Why (Olive Oyl) by David Spiller
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Dining Table by Kenneth Cobonpue
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Hello Chairs by Busk + Hertzog, Free Range Coffee Table by Blu Dot
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Vintage Kai Kristiansen Model 42 Dining Chair

Any secret “tip” about London you want to share with us?

I usually don’t like chains but Le Pain Quotidien has the best chocolate tart in town — by far — and some of the best baguette as well (it took us almost 7 years to find a decent one in London …).

What are your favourite home decor and furniture shops?

Skandium, The Conran Shop and antique dealers. We also like to discover vintage pieces and emerging designers through interior blogs.

What is your favourite decorating style?

Nordic contemporary design mixed with vintage mid-century pieces

What are your favourite sources of interior inspiration online and offline?

AD and a number of blogs. I also like to spend time on antique dealer platforms online.

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Photographs by Thanh-Khoa Tran
Nursery — Max Shelf by Compagnie

What is the piece of furniture or decorating object you own that you like the most?

Our Equilibrium bookcase; we found it on a blog and ordered it from a young Colombian designer who shipped it to the UK for us: I like its uniqueness and lightness.

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Equilibrium Bookcase by Malagana Design, Floor Lamp by Garcia Garay
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Photography by Beatrice Hug
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Sofa from Made

What is on top of your shopping list for your home now?

We have been looking for a photograph for a while but haven’t found it just yet. I am also always looking for nice lighting.

What is the dream piece of furniture or decor you would like to buy?

A Gerhard Richter painting…I know.


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