How One Interior Designer Converted A Dilapidated 22-Bedroom Hotel Into A Sumptuous Notting Hill Home

When interior designer Peter Mikic first stepped inside his stuccoed Notting Hill town house a decade ago, he was greeted by a band of pigeons. “They’d totally taken over the third floor,” he says. Originally two properties, it had been converted in the 1970s into a 22-bedroom hotel by ripping out staircases, blocking up entrances and wreaking havoc with the historic features. “It was in such a bad state that you couldn’t even open the back door,” says Mikic. Undeterred, the Australian, who is a master of metamorphosis, swiftly set about transforming the space into the opulent five-bedroomed home he now shares with his television producer partner Sebastian Scott.

Mikic with his Labradors.

© Kate Martin

“I just love it here,” says Mikic of the area where Stella McCartney and Jeremy Irons are neighbours. “It’s quiet, but step outside and you’re right in the bustle of Notting Hill Gate. It’s so much more vibrant and relaxed than a lot of the smarter areas of London.”

‘Department of Water and Power (Los Angeles)’, Sarah Morris’s four-panelled 2004 screenprint, and Paula Rego’s painting ‘Therapy’ (2011) are among the artworks hanging in the first-floor sitting room and adjoining library.

© Kate Martin

After finding the original plans for the property, Mikic’s first move was to reinstate its stone staircase in an effort to reignite its former grandeur. Guests are now greeted by a lobby decked in de Gournay wallpaper, which opens through etched-glass double doors on to a Portland stone stairwell with a Victorian-style iron balustrade. From there, Mikic’s decision-making was far from decisive. Though his studio is known for swiftly and punctiliously executed projects, when it came to his place, “I’m my own worst client,” he admits. “Every project I work on is so different in style, but I couldn’t decide what I wanted to live with.” So, rather than opt for a single aesthetic, what evolved over this intuitive two-year refurbishment is a richly layered multi-mood home.

Grayson Perry’s 2008 ‘Map of Nowhere (blue)’ features large in the dining room.

© Kate Martin

While the airy open-plan kitchen and dining space on the ground floor and the bijou basement breakfast room are both cosy and relaxed, the first floor, which is dedicated to entertaining, has a crisp formality. “The idea was to create a really versatile house that caters to different moods and feelings,” explains Mikic. What unifies this sumptuous space is the dizzying display of modern art – from Paula Rego to Grayson Perry and David Hockney – and Mikic’s unerring eye for offbeat, mid-century antiques and bespoke design.

Exotically plumed Hermès parrots in the cloakroom.

© Kate Martin

One of Mikic’s signatures is to start a scheme with the flooring. In the interconnected sitting room and library, his bold geometric rug lends a graphic glamour reminiscent of his decorator hero, David Hicks. There are touches of kitsch in the Perspex tables and palm tree flea-market finds that bring, what Mikic calls, “a slightly Joan Collins touch”.

Lighting in the Boffi-executed kitchen was designed by Mikic.

© Kate Martin

Mikic made it his mission to immerse himself in the restoration process, seeking out artisans to reinstate everything from the wooden flooring to the rose plasterwork that embellishes the ceilings. “We didn’t have a huge budget, so I had to think about things differently,” he explains. The elegant fireplaces were designed by Mikic and brought to life in India; the gilt mirrors above them were forged by a craftsman in Northumberland. There were some lucky finds, too. The pineapple lights that adorn the library were spotted on the street. “They were covered in cobwebs, but they give off the most incredible light,” he says. Working without floorplans or moodboards, it’s this spontaneous sourcing that really shaped the space. “It was the key to guiding my creative journey in this house,” he says of his flexible mentality.

The manicured garden was conceived by landscape architect Tom Stuart-Smith.

© Kate Martin

The result is a home that’s full of surprises. The manicured garden, conceived by landscape architect Tom Stuart-Smith, features a bronze pavilion, created with Jamie Fobert Architects, that had to be craned in. Indoors, the master bedroom opens into a spacious bathroom and dressing room that exudes boudoir drama. “When we have dinners, guests often end up in this room while I finish getting ready. There’s a real warmth to it,” says Mikic of the chocolate-velvet curtains, raw silk wallpaper, eBay sourced bath and 1940s Roman screen.

The breakfast room is hung with Scrolling Fern Silhouette wallpaper by Soane and ‘Untitled (grid)’ (2016) by Daniel Blumberg.

© Kate Martin

Mikic’s demeanour is so refreshingly laid-back that it’s easy to forget the rarefied world he inhabits. His studio is currently creating a bespoke private train – made in Italy, replete with three bedrooms and a dedicated staff carriage – for a couple who, come the summer, will head off on a luxurious Covid-proof trip. He recently completed his first architectural project – a modernist Ibizan home. But catch him off duty, and he’s most likely to be holed up in his snug watching Netflix and tucking into a bowl of spaghetti. Even in the days of dinner parties – a monthly affair pre-pandemic – things were quite freewheeling. The couple would gather a crowd around the table and serve slow-roast lamb and vegetables from their well-thumbed Ottolenghi cookbook. “It’s so much more fun when things are slightly chaotic,” says Mikic. But whenever these nights end, he is always awake by 7am to walk his beloved black Labradors, Bullitt and Trigger, around the block. Then it’s back to prepare breakfast, before heading out on his Tokyobike to his Shoreditch office. “Sebastian thinks I’m mad,” he says. “But I love cycling, even in the rain.”

Chocolate-velvet curtains, a pair of sheepskin armchairs and raw silk walls give the master bathroom a luxurious feel.

© Kate Martin

It’s a throwback, perhaps, to his formative years spent riding around his native Canberra. Before decorating homes, Mikic ran the menswear label Stonewood & Bryce with his friend Theo Vanderzalm. They sold to Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, and were a fixture on the Milan schedule. “One year, hilariously, our show was sandwiched between Prada and Dolce & Gabbana,” he says. “Not bad for two Aussie lads.” Mikic, the son of a builder, spent his youth fashioning outfits for his style-conscious mother. “She’d do the grocery shopping in all these YSL copies,” he recalls. “It was all rather Zsa Zsa Gabor.” Mikic’s first foray into decoration came early. “At 10, I remember asking my mum to change the curtains. She called my bluff by giving me money to buy the fabric,” he says. “I was constantly repainting and rearranging my room. It wasn’t a conscious thing, but I’ve always had that love of design.”

Peter Mikic in his town house’s lobby – he stands beneath ‘Hamlet’ by Maggi Hambling.

© Kate Martin

It wasn’t until a fateful meeting with supernova property developers the Candy brothers in 2006 that his dual interests collided. They commissioned Stonewood & Bryce to make the uniforms for their mega-yacht staff. “We created cocktail jackets embroidered with cranes. They loved them so much that they asked us to do cushions and curtains, too. Then a friend asked me to decorate her boat.” That friend was Elisabeth Murdoch. Mikic won awards for his innovative efforts. To his mind, the worlds of clothing and soft furnishings are simpatico. “Fashion gives you the ability to understand editing,” he says. “When you’re creating a clothing collection, it’s important to remove things that aren’t working and to add elements that are missing. It’s something I’ve taken with me into interiors – it’s easy to fill a room with anything and everything, but it’s all about getting the balance right.”

More from British Vogue: