The Interior Life Of: Natalie Sytner

natalie sytner interior life of
The Interior Life Of: Natalie Sytner Vicky Grout

Natalie Sytner credits serendipity with helping her find her current home. Six months pregnant and bedridden with morning sickness, after hours of scrolling on Rightmove, the Bettina Ceramica founder came across a familiar-looking house in Kensal Green, northwest London. ‘I’d walked past it so many times, and thought it was like a Tardis,’ she says of the property’s surprisingly grand proportions. At the viewing, the estate agent revealed that, coincidentally, he had a client wanting to move to the road Sytner was living on. A swap of photos followed, and within 24 hours she found herself not only in a position to sell but also to buy her dream home.

The former fashion PR and her family – husband George Yandell, a creative director, and their two daughters, Gia, five, and Alba, three – moved into the converted vestry, attached to an old church and a one-bedroom former rectory (which they also own), in 2021. ‘It’s a really lovely area to bring up a family,’ she says of the house’s proximity to design havens Habibi Interiors and Retrouvius, as well as Queen’s Park and the Italian culinary institution L’Angolo Delicatessen.

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natalie sytner interior life of
Vicky Grout

Sytner set about renovating the 3,800-square-foot home almost imme- diately, employing a contractor who happened to be a former tenant of the property, familiar with the house’s unusual quirks. ‘It’s hard to find out exactly when the house was converted because it has been remodelled by so many people,’ she explains, of its higgledy- piggledy construction. ‘Whenever we have work done on the house, the workers always say how confusing it is.’ The property is arranged over three floors, consisting of a converted garage, which now houses the living room, an ‘open-plan, lofty kitchen’, a cobbled central terrace, five bedrooms, five bathrooms and a roof terrace that is yet to be redecorated. ‘The plan is to create built-in seating and a big trellis with lots of jasmine and a stainless-steel outdoor kitchen,’ she adds.

interior life of natalie sytner
Vicky Grout

With an astute eye for juxtapositions, it was important for Sytner to ensure the house retained its original features, while incorporating contrasting tactile textures like the living room’s concrete ceiling, reclaimed metal doors, chunky white floor- boards and Arabescato marble countertops. It’s an aesthetic she believes she has inherited from her design-loving parents. ‘They loved combining contemporary with trad,’ she notes, recalling growing up in an ‘eclectic old house’ in Rutland’s country- side. ‘They had a stainless-steel kitchen and polished plaster walls, which is very cool now but unusual in the Nineties,’ she says, noting her mother’s choice of floor-to-ceiling Fornasetti velvet curtains and a sky mural on the kitchen ceiling.

Reimagining conventional designs in contemporary ways has formed the foundation of Sytner’s Italian-heritage-inspired homeware company since its launch in 2021. ‘We take pieces that are traditional, and can be quite loud, and modernise them by remaking them in a white glaze,’ she says, referring to the squiggly-rimmed bowl that sits on her marble-topped kitchen counter and ceramic-covered doorways. It’s unsurprising that, when it came to choosing a colour palette for her home, Sytner wanted something ‘very contemporary, relaxed, warm – and white’.

natalie sytner interior life of
Vicky Grout

‘White is my big thing,’ she jokes, remembering the hours spent choosing the perfect shade (Little Green’s Shirting) to complement the subterranean ground floor and largely reclaimed wooden furniture. The whitewashed walls form a perfect backdrop for Sytner’s personal art collection, which includes inherited paintings by Beryl Cook (‘my late uncle owned the Portal Gallery in the West End and looked after really interesting, idiosyncratic artists’), oil canvases by the figurative painter Bernard Dunstan RA in the kitchen and a piece by her one-and-only employee Maya for the bedroom, in shades of rusty orange, brown and pale blue. ‘She painted it in the kitchen while we chatted,’ she says.

Curating a comfortable familial space was imperative for Sytner, which explains the leather Eames lounge chair (formerly her father’s) in the living room. ‘His dream was always to own one – it’s a real great love of his,’ she notes. Other considered seating choices include a vintage nursery chair from Sunbury Antiques Market, a Buchanan Studio chair in the master bedroom and Arne Jacobsen Ant dining-room chairs.

natalie sytner interior life of
Vicky Grout
interior life of natalie sytner
Vicky Grout

A devotee of eBay, Vinterior and auction houses, Sytner loves vintage (‘there’s not a lot in the house that’s new’) and is perfectly happy to wait years for the perfect item. ‘Our coffee table was made from cardboard boxes with a big piece of linen thrown over the top until the specific burlwood Conran Shop table came up on eBay,’ she explains, revealing that she regularly scours ex-display sections of websites for a bargain. ‘Our kitchen sofa is ex-display from SCP, as are our kitchen appliances,’ she adds, noting a carpenter made new MDF doors for the kitchen cabinetry, which she later decorated with black knobs and hardware from Corston. ‘We redid the kitchen as best we could on our budget.’

Along with plans to expand Bettina Ceramica’s linen collection and make the brand ‘the place you go to for the best Italian gifting and craftsmanship,’ Sytner looks forward to seeing her home evolve as her daughters grow up. ‘In the morning, they’re both on their scooters and bombing around the kitchen island. They’re really enjoying living here – it’s amazing.’


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