Leighton House on Holland Park Road was the purpose-built home and studio of the painter Frederic Leighton. The house was the architect George Aitchison's first domestic building (his practice was primarily concerned with vast building projects such as wharves, warehouses and railway works. Aitchison's friendship with Leighton was rooted in their shared experiences in Rome. They built the house together, "every stone, every brick – even mortar and the cement – no less than all the wood and metal passed directly under (Leighton's) observation" and no other architect (than Aitchison) is recorded as having input into the house throughout its many extensions and redecorations".
From the front Leighton House is another grand orangey-red-brick building – stikingly plain and devoid of any stylistic references. Leighton deliberately avoided giving his houseany historical style…
…inside is marvelousness itself: the Sicilio-Norman inspired Arab Hall with its original tiles, golden mosaic frieze and rectangular pool beneath a domed ceiling; the tiled corridor – or Narcissus Hall – connecting the Arab Hall to the original house and leading off to the Library and the Drawing Room; and the Studio where "…your mind travels back in the imagination to the studio of one of the princely artists of Italy, to be brought back, however to these modern days by a touch of ninetenth century colour or some latterday device of Comfort".
The garden is now open to the public but it needs some love (and landscaping).
Stafford Terrace is a 10 minute walk from Leighton House and "lies at the back of the busy whirl of Kensignton High Road". 18 Stafford Terrace was the home of cartoonist Edward Linley Sambourne and survives largely intact, managing to be both a typical middle-class home of a late Victorian family and a highly personal and idiosyncratic artistic environment.
Your visit to 19 Stafford Terrace begins in the basement with a 10 minute film about the house and its owners; then you ascend the stairs, entering room after room (two or three to a floor) layered with decoration – tiles, carpets, wallpapers, stained glass windows – quality furniture and fabrics, collections of objects, books and papers. It's a great space to photograph – the light is romantic and every room is stuffed full of things. The staff are both nice and knowledgable (very much like the attendant-Hogarth-experts at the Soane). The house is extemely dreamy! Look…
End the perfect Sunday morning with lunch at Babylon – or "the garden in the sky" – ontop of the old Barker's building.