Quirky and eclectic, the surprising London home of the Lebanese designer embodies her stylish personality and lifestyle.
This article first appeared in the July/August issue of Vogue Arabia
Knowing exactly what you want can come at a price. Designer Danielle Moudaber visited more than 60 city apartments before finding “the one” in an 1870s-era Victorian-style building in South West London. It took her years to buy two separate properties in order to finally shape her now two-story maisonette exactly as she wanted.
“It was hard to find the perfect place. I am very sensitive to good house vibes. Light, high ceilings, and a location not too far from my daily routines were also very important.” Of the area, she adds, “It is central, a bit old-fashioned at the moment as everyone is moving east, and rather residential and quiet.”
Born in Nigeria to Lebanese parents, the designer moved to Lebanon at age 10. In Beirut, she studied journalism and photography before choosing the UK as her home base. With such a multicultural and creative background, it hardly comes as a surprise that Moudaber’s home is unlike any other. One specific element, which today remains her dwelling’s most distinctive trait, immediately convinced her to make the space her own.
“The drawing room is blue,” she shares. “I was already in my blue era before acquiring the apartment.” In addition to this room, the open ground floor also includes the dining and office area around the sculptural staircase designed by Moudaber, which leads to the sleeping areas on the upper floor that feature three dressing rooms, two bathrooms, and two bedrooms. “There is also a ballet dance floor with springs underneath, so I work out there,” she adds. “My lifestyle really varies in this home. It can go from monastic, regimented, and strict a lot of the times, to various indulgences. It all depends on my state of mind and schedule.”
While the duplex is her full-time home, Moudaber also uses it as a space to organize photo shoots for clients in the fashion and entertainment industries. She notes that incorporating a studio can be socially restrictive. “I sometimes can’t invite people for dinner parties as everything has to be tidy if a shoot is occurring early the next morning. But I got used to it and I love it now. Initially, I was a photographer, so that world is very natural to me.”
Evoking peace and the concept of infinity, the blue walls act as a bold backdrop that highlights objects with unusual shapes from various cultures. Much of the decor has a predominantly white color scheme with touches of black and a mix of metals, mirrors, and velvets.
Every item has a special meaning for Moudaber, particularly pieces made by her friends. These include a table by Jean-François Buisson, a princess chair by Mark Brazier-Jones, a sculpture by Cathy Azria, prints by Bob Carlos Clarke, and a photograph by Lillian Bassman. Moudaber also created furnishings and accessories to fit her needs and tastes, including the blue curved sofas and a one-of-a-kind white, three-level table in the main living area, as well as photographs of ancient Roman athletes that she took in Rome’s Olympic Stadium. She also added all the moldings and white plaster to bring another personal touch to the interior.
“In my home, I am peaceful and at ease,” she says. “I feel equally good to sit and reflect quietly, or to dance like a possessed woman, twirling and looking up at the reflection ring chandelier. Alone or in company – it’s irrelevant! The decor definitely mirrors my personality. I designed a space to work, learn, create, dream, and think.”
Blue pools and blue skies, especially omnipresent in the Mediterranean, and happy times spent on a terrace or in a garden were all on Moudaber’s mind through the whole creative process. “Fashion is a great source of inspiration, too,” she says. “I love looking at cuts and details. The made-to-measure sofa bed in the guest bedroom was inspired by John Galliano’s love of the bias cut. For prints, I also keep an eye on the best textile works like the ones by Raoul Dufy for Paul Poiret.” A fan of Martin Margiela, Norma Kamali, and classic men’s suits and tailoring, she likes to be comfortable and unencumbered both in her home and in her clothing. In her wardrobe, Gianvito Rossi and Hermès shoes are placed next to Nikes and biker boots. “I have never carried a bag in my life; I have an aversion to it,” she smiles. “I buy a lot of coats and jackets instead as they all have pockets.”
Exuberant, theatrical, sophisticated… This apartment – that Moudaber describes as “outdoorsy” and “uplifting” – is all that and more. “What I like the most about my house is its happy vibes,” she says.
Photography: Marc Van Praag