Homebody isn’t the first word that comes to mind when describing Cara Delevingne. Since rocketing onto the scene as the It Brit model eight years ago, she has ricocheted across runways, tabloids, and silver screens with the voracity of the Energizer Bunny on steroids.
Her refreshingly quirky Instagram counts more than 41 million followers and is a dizzying sight: Cara at Burning Man! Cara rocking a shaved head at the MTV Movie & TV Awards! Cara hanging out with lions in the Sahara! Cara hamming it up with Pharrell backstage at a Chanel show in Paris! Cara getting flags painted on her behind by Gigi Hadid at Taylor Swift’s seaside house! Downtime has been so rare that she was living with her London society–fixture parents until recently.
But even the young and the restless need a place of their own, which now happens to be a listed Georgian house in West London. “It’s got high ceilings and big windows, but it’s private and classic,” she says. It was also in dire need of a face-lift, so she reached out to family friend Tom Bartlett, founder of Waldo Works, an architecture and interior-design practice whose groovy clients include Jade Jagger and Smythson.
“Most of our clients, we sit them down,” Bartlett says. With Delevingne, design meetings generally took place via FaceTime from across different continents and time zones. “The DHL people were chasing her around everywhere. It was quite a modern approach,” he recalls with perfectly British understatement. She adds, “I remember doing one early-morning video call from bed in L.A. I was covered in [mood] boards and got the samples in a complete muddle.” Needless to say, the benefits of their having known each other since Delevingne was a child were instrumental in making it work. As he puts it, “There was a shorthand.”
The actress was starting from scratch as far as decor went, and wanted a space that echoed her punkishly cool sensibility, but also one that she could grow with. “Cara’s an individual—she’s always had that strength of character,” says Bartlett. “We wanted it to reflect the way she lives there. Like if you were a 25-year-old, it’s about having friends around, going to sleep jet-lagged and feeling in a cocoon” but also starting to explore a more domestic life. Does Delevingne cook? “I think she probably heats stuff up,” Bartlett deadpans.
Would you like fries with that?
He approached the house in distinct layers. The garden level serves as a de facto play space with screening room, bar, and a music room to display Delevingne’s growing collection of guitars. The clubby home cinema is lacquered in purple and green duochrome car paint in homage to her love for the Pimp My Ride style of West Coast custom shops. Here, on a sofa that seats a dozen, she and her pals can “pile in front of the TV and have a movie marathon . . . then push the sofas back and do some dancing,” she quips with a cheeky wink. A neon FRIES sign hangs above a bar cart and is one of the few preexisting things she brought with her. (Delevingne followers will recall her well-documented fondness for McDonald’s Happy Meals as a young model.)
Moving up to the ground floor, or “the adult entertaining space,” as Bartlett calls it, there’s the kitchen, featuring a pink terrazzo countertop, and the dining room, which is relatively neutral apart from a mismatched set of chairs that projects a rebellious cast of characters. “So even when you’re by yourself, it’s like the people are already around the table,” Bartlett remarks.
The upper floor is a refuge from an otherwise high-speed life. The jewel-hued drawing room is punctuated with Ettore Sottsass’s colourful, iconoclastic Carlton bookcase, a George III mirror, and contemporary pieces such as a custom George Smith sofa. The master bedroom features a serene canopy bed and overlooks the garden, which is in the hands of hot young landscape designer Hugo Bugg and will include a Waldo Works yoga shed that’s clad in black mirrored glass.
It’s all very cool and very Cara. Though without question, the pièce de résistance is the master bath, wrapped in a cloudscape by British muralist Sarah Hocombe. There couldn’t be a more fitting metaphor for someone who literally spends much of her time in the lower stratosphere. “She really liked the idea of lying in a bath after coming back from travelling, and having it feel romantic and dreamy,” Bartlett says. “The English love baths,” he continues.
The sink and toilet are in a neighbouring space clad in reverse-painted glass that depicts dawn. Guests will be pleased to know that their lavatories, too, have received thoughtful attention to detail. In one guest bath, two toilets sit side by side, a design characteristic Bartlett credits entirely to his client. “I like a chat on the loo,” Delevingne says with a shrug, adding that the ladies’ room at the Crazy Horse show in Paris inspired the idea.
Her first visit to the house upon its completion was a rather nerve-racking occasion. “It was strange and exhilarating,” she says. Bartlett recalls, “She had her hands clenched under her chin the whole time. It wasn’t until we got upstairs to her bedroom that her whole body language changed. She lay down on the bed like a giant starfish and wouldn’t move. I had to do the rest of the meeting about bills and stuff with her lying there.”
See more of the interiors in the gallery above.
This article first appeared in Architectural Digest.