If there’s one thing guaranteed to brighten up a dull January day, it’s a house designed by Laura Stephens. Our go-to girl for anything decor-related, Laura is an interior design whizz with a taste for colour. This house in Wimbledon is the perfect case-in-point. Cool, contemporary and decorated in a really soothing palette, young children also live there (I know!), going to prove that you don’t have to sacrifice style for the sake of small people. Read on, this one’s a treat…
This is such a beautiful house and a great example of how you can be modern and stylish AND have children! What was the client’s brief to you?
My client has a fabulous house – it’s modern, incredibly spacious and light. She had undertaken renovations and had decorated throughout, but, although it was complete, she asked me to add finishing touches and colour to bring personality and soften the spaces.
I was asked to design storage for her children’s playroom, sort out guestroom storage and source soft furnishings throughout the house – including rugs, cushions, curtains and blinds. I also sourced and upholstered armchairs, and found various items of furniture all to enhance and work with what was there already.
How long does a project like this take from start to finish?
All the bits in the brief added up and sourcing can take time. Particularly when you’re finding bespoke pieces. The living room rug and large yellow maze rug are bespoke and made in Nepal so have a long lead time. It took around 6 months from start to total completion.
Whilst this space is amazing, it felt almost too big and my client wanted a rug to soften the area and give it identity. The idea was to make it almost a room of its own, not just a walk through. My client already had the beautiful Roche Bobois sideboard which we incorporated into the space.
This entrance is the centre point from which the other rooms, – kitchen, living room and music room all link. So it needed to have a fairly neutral palette but enhance colours used elsewhere. The walls were already a lovely soft grey (Cornforth White by Farrow & Ball) and I wanted to bring in some pale pink and warm brass tones. Otherwise, the aim was to keep the scheme really fresh and calm.
This room was all about finding the right rug (from The Rug Company). We both loved the geometric design – it felt perfect for the contemporary space and the room could take the bold pattern without it being overwhelmed. I then found the accessories, Tom Faulkner mirror, Porta Romana lamp etc all to complement the rug and colour scheme.
This room was already lovely but needed something to make it feel really special. So I sourced Romo wallpaper, the bespoke cushions (using Nobilis fabric), a footstool and armchair all to work together with the décor and the And So To Bed bed that the client already had. The lamps are from Original BTC.
I adore pattern and really my only rule is don’t restrict yourself to a rule! I love to mix patterns up – my style isn’t matchy matchy. In an eclectic scheme it’s fun to clash colours and prints. However, here we wanted to retain the calm and subtle colours in the room. So, although all the fabrics have different patterns, they are all in the same palette of duck egg blues and caramels. In addition, the background of the wallpaper and the fabric of the patterned cushions have metallic in them which adds warmth and depth to the whole scheme.
This chair is from Roche Bobois but we had it upholstered in fabric from Osborne & Little which, I had it done in two contrasting colours, but the same pattern. I love giving old chairs a new lease of life by upholstering them and I almost always to manage to incorporate at least one upholstered chair in my my projects. It’s a great way to bring in colour, pattern and texture without committing to that colour on walls and larger items such as sofas. A stunning chair or pair of chairs can provide the centre piece to a room and upholstering in your own fabric makes the chair totally unique. The artwork is by Julian Opie.
This room is a living area attached to the kitchen. It’s a really large space with great light from angled windows overlooking the garden. The client felt it needed a rug to ‘zone’ the area, which I totally agreed with. Large spaces can feel overwhelming and a this rug really grounds it and makes it feel cosy. To soften the feel of this room, we put lovely blinds in the windows, added the rug and upholstered chairs to add warmth and texture, and make it feel and welcoming.
This room has several really ‘wow’ pieces but is so large and light it can handle them all without competing. The sofas the client had already but she wanted more seating and the natural place for the Italian chairs was in front of the full height double glass doors to create a lovely vignette. I found the beautiful Italian chairs, but in a very impractical white fabric. My client has two young children and, as the room forms part of the kitchen/diner, it’s hard to keep sticky hands at bay. She loved the turquoise blue colour of the fabric which was textured rather than flat (forgiving for hiding dirt) and had a yellow thread running through it. I pulled out the yellow thread with yellow contrast piping. We sprayed all the chairs and rugs in ‘microseal’ from rugcare to protect everything.
Next came the rug and I turned to Jennifer Manners for this. She creates amazing rugs with beautiful patterns and available in every colour you can imagine and bespoke sizes. I knew we needed a large rug and that Jennifer’s modern yet timeless designs would suit the room perfectly. I took my client to her studio and she fell in love with this ‘Maze’ design. Jennifer came to the house with her colour samples and we picked out the perfect yellow to match the piping of the chairs, and a soft grey background to complement the washed grey wooden floor beneath. The yellow maze pattern is in silk and changes with the light with each direction you view it. I added some beautiful brass and glass side tables to match the large brass floor light.
The client had a great range of contemporary art which worked well with the space and were colourful, but not enough to dictate the entire scheme. Sometimes a client has one central piece of art which is has to be integral to the whole scheme, that can be helpful but it’s also nice to have free reign! The butterfly is a Damien Hirst and the brass floor lamp is from Julian Chichester.
The Living Room
This is the main living room. It was already decorated in a really elegant palette of greys. This rug is another Jennifer Manners called ‘Treetops’. The rug itself added a totally new dimension to the room and really brought depth and subtle colour. The blue glass lamp from Heathfield picked up on the beautiful blue silk thread in the rug. The sideboard is super cool – from Julien Chichester. When we installed the rug, we realised that the block, heavy coffee table had to go and a glass one was needed to see the rug in full view. This brass framed one is the ‘Madison’ coffee table from Tom Faulkner.
The Music Room
This chair was a total bargain from an antique dealer local to me. I was so pleased with it as it’s an original 1950’s Italian with a stunning shape, we then reupholstered it in Christian Lacroix velvet from Designers Guild. I love upholstering chairs in different colours. It really makes a chair special and gives it a different look from each angle. I love contrast piping but sometimes need to be reigned in!
Images: Chris Snook