When Gabrielle Du Plooy moved into her late-Victorian property in the heart of Hampstead 12 years ago it had all the features to make a great house. Yet it didn’t feel like home.
Being Grade II-listed, the house is full of period details, including the original cornicing and parquet flooring, but as an art dealer and owner of Zebra One Gallery in Hampstead, NW3, Gabrielle felt that until she had filled it with her favourite pieces, inherited and collected both at home and on her travels, it wouldn’t be quite right.
‘I always say a house is not a home without artworks on the walls,’ she says. ‘My art fills me with joy. Every piece I have tells a story. Some artists I’ve worked with from day one and watched them grow.’
The 1880 house is on the doorstep of leafy Hampstead Heath and has had the roof opened up to create a studio for Gabrielle’s father, who is an artist. The green spaces a few minutes away, with ancient meadow and woodlands, are where Constable spent his final years painting.
The area’s upmarket bohemian vibe and village-like feel mean it still attracts a vibrant art scene, albeit priced for, and inhabited by, those who have found huge fame and fortune before visiting that great gallery in the sky – unlike Constable.
Gabrielle is pictured in her lounge, which was gutted and opened up soon after she bought the house in 2010 to create an open-plan layout, encompassing a sitting and dining area.
The original features have been retained and serve as a backdrop to an ever-changing mix of contemporary and post-war modern art on the walls.
‘This room is eclectic,’ she says. ‘It’s filled with wonderful pieces that have been inherited and collected from family members and from our travels.
‘I am a lover of antiques markets and fairs. I do so love to have a nose around when on my travels. My father is South African and collects sculpture. And there are Persian rugs from Iran. We kept the original parquet floors and most of the original features. This room, like the rest of our house, is a mixture of the old and the new, the foraged and found.’
The standout artwork in the lounge is of zebras, for Zebra One Gallery, and is one of Gabrielle’s all-time favourite pieces. It was created by Dom Pattinson who she first started working with in 2013.
‘Most of the works I have and keep as part of my collection hold a special significance to me,’ she adds.
The room deliberately riffs the old and the new, partly as conversation-starters but also to avoid the interiors becoming too stark. Farrow & Ball Slipper Satin paint serves as a warm, off-white background to bring out the colours and bold lines of contemporary works.
‘The room is eclectic and interesting but it feels warm and inviting,’ adds Gabrielle. ‘I’ve carefully curated it so the pieces work together as a whole and don’t feel too overwhelming. But they encompass different cultures, stories and periods. And guests are never short of conversation and inspiration in here, as there is so much to talk about. Or you can just lose yourself in a single piece.’
When it comes to choosing art for a home, Gabrielle says these works will set the tone for everything else. Go bold and choose what you like, not what may impress others, she says.
‘If you are working on a fresh space, it’s fantastic if you can use art as the starting point for your décor plans. Then the art leads the colour palette and scheme and sets the mood of the room. If you are dressing the home based on the colouring and style and you are trying to be conscious of everything in the room, the size, colours and tone working in the colour scheme is where you would start.
‘Not everything in a design scheme has to be abstract and just colours. Be brave and go for what you love.’
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