The early months of 2020 led Julien Dufour and Edouard Schuler-Voith to make some crucial decisions. The couple had been living between Paris and New York, often spending weeks apart because of work obligations. “When COVID hit, we realized we didn’t want to live that way anymore; it was time for us to start a family,” says Schuler-Voith, who was Sotheby’s chief data officer at the time. “We knew we wanted to live in Europe and very quickly agreed on London.”
Their search for a new home began online, and after scrolling through countless photos and floor plans, they made a list of properties to visit as soon as they could fly to England. At the very top of that list was an Edwardian town house in Marylebone. It had more space than they needed, but the floor-to-ceiling French windows and untouched century-old details seemed like a rare find. When they finally saw it in person later that year, it exceeded their expectations. The 1912 construction had an abundance of natural light and was full of rich yet restrained details, like delicately ornamented ceiling moldings and cast-iron balconies.
Soon enough they had the keys to the 8,000-square-foot home. “It was so unique, we felt it was worth going on this big adventure,” says Dufour, vice president at The Independents, the global group that owns Karla Otto, Bureau Betak, and other influential creative agencies. “We were quite aligned from the start and started discussing what we imagined in each of these rooms, bouncing ideas off each other and pushing each other further.” One of their main goals was to use almost exclusively vintage and antique pieces (including several family heirlooms) and to “not create new things” while also preserving “the identity of this very old house,” says Schuler-Voith.
They took that self-imposed mandate quite seriously. During the property’s gut renovation by London Projects, they asked to save and restore nearly every floor plank and wall tile that was taken down. As for the interior design, they used a handful of beloved pieces of furniture as lodestars. In the breakfast room, a space with ample bay windows facing the back garden, it all started with a rolled-arm sofa that had belonged to Dufour’s grandmother and was upholstered in a Pierre Frey floral fabric with scarlet, coral, and green hues. To complement its style and palette, the couple chose a forest green de Gournay wallpaper that featured herons and butterflies. Then they brought the room into the 21st century with a geometric painting in ombré coral shades by contemporary artist Alex Israel.
Decorating a six-story home using an existing collection of furniture and art—and making it look not only harmonious but also nuanced and modern—was no small feat. “It was super interesting to work that way,” says Dufour of their idea to start with one special item and go from there. “That room with the flashy wallpaper took me a few days to get used to, but now it’s become my favorite.”
A similar process led to the blue and gold media room, which began with a set of 12 gilded paintings by Sun Cheng’en bought at auction long ago. “We started collecting over the years, knowing that someday we would build our dream house,” adds Dufour. “There are a lot of memories here already.” And they are certainly creating news ones. They recently welcomed their first child, Theodore. This was a milestone that motivated Schuler-Voith to leave the corporate world and become a stay-at-home dad. “We took risks and discovered ourselves in this process,” he says, summing up their new home—and new life.