The Leighton House Museum, a restoration of the home of 19th-century artist Frederic Leighton, has a stunningly opulent interior, with excellent examples of Arts and Crafts furniture and many other Victorian-era decorative curiosities.
A mix of original pieces, sympathetic period replicas and a growing collection of acquisitions of Leighton’s artwork, the house is a testament to the eccentricity of Leighton’s tastes and his considerable means. The small, single bedroom notwithstanding (which is nonetheless decorated with William Morris wallpaper), the house is decadent and maximalist in its decor and furnishings.
The dining room, once visited by no less than Queen Victoria, is decorated in deep red to showcase Leighton’s precious ceramic plate collection, and the scale of Leighton’s studio, with its high ceilings and large windows, is immediately impressive, but the two downstairs hallways are the real showstoppers. The Narcissus Hall, with its Roman-style mosaics, bronze sculpture of Narcissus and gilded ceiling, and the Arab Hall, decorated with Syrian decorative tiles and stained glass, Egyptian paneling, a gilded chandelier and a fountain designed by George Aitchinson, are truly beautiful examples of masterful interior design.
Tucked away in Holland Park behind a rather plain red brick exterior, the Leighton House is a bit of a hidden gem. The Museum is a must-see for fans of interior design and particularly those interested in the Victorian Aesthetic Movement.