Tour a London-Based Designer’s Victorian Renovation That Flows From the Indoors Out

When Mexican designer Stephanie Barba Mendoza and her Austrian husband moved into their Victorian home in northwest London seven years ago, the writing was on the walls for a renovation—at some point down the line. With the shell already “in pretty good condition,” new paint and rugs made it just right for their growing family. Still, as Mendoza adds, “It was always in the cards to do an extension—to make the kitchen bigger, change the bathrooms, do a few cosmetic changes.” In 2022, she and husband Bernhard, along with their eight- and five-year-old sons, found the time, and the gumption, to make it happen. “We were finally brave [enough]!” she declares.

Their three-story house in Queen’s Park buzzes with striking hues, fanciful motifs, and the family’s playful personality. “With my own house, I have no boundaries,” explains the designer. “I just go all out. My house is a little bit like my laboratory. That’s where you can push, push, push the boundaries.” She pushed the physical boundaries of the house itself, too, in the form of a rear extension, which expanded the kitchen-dining space into the garden. The team down a half-meter at the low-slung back of the house to create “a really great ceiling height, which feels much more generous.” She also decided “to creep upstairs,” reimagining the children’s bathroom and a number of bedrooms during the eight-month process.

Progress was slightly stalled when a minor planning permissions error resulted in a slowdown—and months without their living room furniture, which had been tucked into storage. “Because of that delay, we [broke ground] in November—digging in the middle of the winter. It was challenging, walking in from cold-and-gray London into a muddy hallway and drafty house,” she says. (“‘What have we done!’” was uttered during a conversation with Bernhard, as Mendoza recalls with a laugh.) Meaningful creative collaboration between the two was also part and parcel of the process: “I usually think about what I want, and I have maybe three ideas or options…. Then I show them to my husband; he narrows it down as if he was the client. Bringing him in and making him a part of it also helps me,” Mendoza says.

The focal point of the renovation, the kitchen, was designed to cultivate a “warm and inviting” atmosphere, with a custom dining table at the hub—a furniture placement she says is “much more sociable, [and] with young kids, much more practical.” Though the family sacrificed some outdoor space to the addition, they didn’t want to compromise on verdant vibes.

Mendoza opted for botanical wallpaper in the dining room to play upon the patio visible just outside, while large rope beads helped “to create some sort of architectural separation without it being a wall or partition. [It’s] an extension of the garden.”

The result? In the summer, the space “feels like a continuous, indoor-outdoor” area, and, in the winter, lighting positioned in the patio’s flower beds means the family can “enjoy them from inside.” Speaking of green, the hue adorns the metal doors and window frames, as well as the patio ground; the designer notes: “I wanted that green theme to carry throughout. It has a calming effect. The patio [ground] looks like a garden. It’s all trickery; it’s such a small space but it makes it feel bigger!” Fantastical Balineum tiles, hand-painted with Gergei Erdei’s artwork of the family’s astrological signs, placed throughout the kitchen, make for a fun finishing touch.