A house with history… Egon Walesch and Richard Goodwin have created eclectic interiors with up-cycled furniture and exciting contemporary art
By Natalie Flaum
Twenty years ago, interior designer Egon Walesch and his partner Richard Goodwin, a management consultant, were in search of a new home in the capital. High on the wishlist: space and light.
“We looked all over London waiting for the right property to come along and it turned up right on the doorstep where I was working in Greenwich,” says Egon. “As another couple were viewing at the same time as us, we began at the top of the house and as we wondered freely on our own, each room felt lighter and more spacious. The style was a bit shabby and not to our taste, with stripped pine everywhere, but we could see the house offered so much potential.”
Full of Edwardian charm the three-storey property was an instant hit with Egon and Richard, although they experienced a somewhat chaotic moving day.
“The previous owners hadn’t quite got their act together in time,” Egon laughs. “The old lean-to was filled with dozens of old bicycles that spilled out into the garden and didn’t disappear until a few weeks after we’d moved in.”
In the sitting room Egon’s starting point was with the 1930s-style wallpaper – and a complete change of opinion.
“I’d always hated the colour orange before. In fact, friends would joke and ask Richard if I allowed oranges in the fruit bowl or if I hid them in the cupboard!” he laughs. “Teal blue with hints of orange work so well together, Chinese lanterns look fantastic and I always have orange seasonal flowers in here. Orange has now become one of my favourite colours.”
Their biggest undertaking took place five years ago when they submitted planning permission to demolish the existing lean-to at the rear and replace it with an impressive extension. The aim was to build a garden room and integrate the space with the rest of the house and to connect it to the outdoors.
“We wanted to refer back to the original building, but in a novel way so that the new part of the house maintained a relationship with the old,” explains Egon.
“The interesting thing about redesigning and landscaping the garden was that I was able to work with established plants like the lollipop bay trees and the olive tree that I grew from a pot. I changed the shape of the lawn from a traditional rectangle to oval creating added interest. Bespoke cedar fencing ensures privacy but also forms a handsome backdrop for the planting. It’s a very easy garden to maintain.”
Upon being drawn to the Sasaworks exhibition stand at the ‘Tent’ London design festival, Egon and Richard hired them to collaborate on the extension and the outside space surrounding it.
“We hit it off straight away with Craig and Louise at Sasaworks, who were great at listening to our ideas,” says Egon. “We spent the best part of a year planning the project over many coffee mornings with them here”
The open plan kitchen and dining area is now an interesting mix of modern, classic and vintage furnishings paired with a muted grey palette, bespoke open shelves and colourful contemporary artwork. The haberdashery cabinet –over six feet in length – was a unique eBay find that required customising, but is now a fabulous, and functional, feature.
“It’s great for storing linens, crockery and cutlery and the toughened glass provides a very practical worktop space,” adds Egon. “What I love about the kitchen is that it’s a great sociable space to entertain in especially with the doors open in the summer where guests can spread out and spill into the garden.”
With Richard’s talent for upholstery the couple have up-cycled interesting quirky furniture that they have found in auctions and on online favourites eBay and St Jude’s.
“We work as a team, discussing colour options or design ideas. I’m inspired by nature, art and design and I like to visit historic buildings like Eltham Palace, which is a fantastic place to wander around and soak up the atmosphere,” says Egon. “Years ago, before the Millennium Village was built in Greenwich, we salvaged driftwood from the Thames and left it in the garden to dry out. It’s now a decorative mantelpiece over the fireplace in the library, where the walls are a wonderfully relaxing tone. On a cold winter’s day, there’s nothing better than to light a fire and snuggle up with a good book and the cat for company.”
The overall look has a timeless quality that will last for many more years to come and any new additions will most certainly be of a quirky nature.
“We love creating interesting dynamics mixing new contemporary styles with the traditional features of the house,” Egon concludes. “Houses like this have been around for a long time and tell a story. There’s lots of history and changes have been made through the years – and it’s nice to see that reflected in how they are used now.”