Love interiors? Good, so do we. And even better, we know someone who is not just brilliant at putting together a beautiful home, but is also willing to share her secrets. Step forward Laura Stephens, Interior Designer, colour-whizz and all-round amazing decor guru. We particularly wanted to share this, her latest project in South London, because it is a brilliant example of how you can have a stylish, clever home and have children (yes, it really, it IS possible! *although maybe not in my house* she whispers quietly). Ready to take a look? The children’s bedroom are particularly lovely…
This is such a lovely family home. What was your brief?
This house is home to a busy family with two children, aged 3 and 6. My job was to create schemes for the rooms in a newly created loft conversion including hallways, both children’s rooms and an ensuite bathroom. I was also asked to help liven up the guestroom. The family wanted to chose bold but stylish schemes and inject colour into each space.
This room was painted a very bland colour and whilst we kept the main items of furniture, the plan was to create a pulled together scheme and bring the room to life. My client wanted to use wallpaper behind the bed and we choose this beautiful leaf print wallpaper by Christopher Farr Cloth. We then decided to ‘pull’ out the dark blue shade from the wallpaper, which served to make the curtains, wooden furniture and headboard really pop against it. I love dark blue in a bedroom as it has a wonderful cocooning effect. Saying that, painting over the whole room is brave and too much for some. Therefore, breaking it up with the large wall of wallpaper really worked on this occasion. When it comes to the ‘right’ colours for bedrooms it really is so personal. Some people find dark colours too oppressive, whereas I find white quite cold and clinical. I tend to avoid reds and oranges in bedrooms as I just don’t find them calming. I also love soft colours – pale pinks, blues and greys always seem to work.
Style notes: The lamps are from Heathfield, the cushion on the chair is from Niki Jones and the paint colour is Dulux Venetian Crystal 1 and, I think, is the perfect indigo blue. The dotty fabric on the chair is from Robert Allen and is done in two colourways in this scheme – beige dot on the chair and blue dot on the dressing room stool. The curtain fabric is from Colefax & Fowler.
Style tip: I love using a contrast piping on upholstery. It serves to add definition to the shape of a chair. Also, bringing in another colour which picks up on something else in the room serves to ‘tie’ the room together.
Style trick: To make a small room seem bigger a trick is to take the colour up to the ceiling to make the walls appear taller. Using darker colours really does work and gives a small room a strong sense of identity. I’ve found that people are braver using dark colours in smaller rooms or bedrooms than in large spaces. Dark colours are also great for hallways – painting a hallway with a little light white will only make it appear gloomy.
The boy’s bedroom
This room was originally the little girl’s room and she moved up to the newly converted loft. So my brief here was to ‘transform’ the room for a 3-year old boy. My client wanted to keep this room really fun and not too sophisticated. She had some lovely colourful prints to incorporate, which served to inspire the colours of the scheme.
We both fell in love with a beautiful ‘wave’ wallpaper which turned out to cost a fortune from the US. So, instead I recruited a talented muralist I know to paint this sweet wave mural around the room, adding little splashes and boats, which I adore. We wanted to stop the room looking too nautical, so we added other primary colours through the blind, drumstool and cushion piping which we pulled together by using the same bright green, orange and yellow fabrics. The fab yellow lighting bolt light is from Ginger Rocks – I love their lights for children’s rooms.
The Loft landing
My client really wanted to make a feature of the landing, so it makes an impact as you walk up the stairs. The green swirly wallpaper from Farrow & Ball really gives this space its own identity. The light fitting is by BTC. The chair was a total ebay bargain. I reupholstered it in a pink Designers Guild fabric (with green piping to match the wallpaper) – the green colourway of the same fabric is on the blind but with a pink trim. My clients choose to work with me as they know I like to use colour and generally don’t need a lot of persuading to introduce it. These particular clients were great as they were totally up for bold schemes and really trusted me which paid off. The bell jars with the little cacti in on the bookshelf are from Graham & Green.
My clients had already made a start with this bathroom when I came on board. They’d picked out the mosaic tiles from Topps Tiles and I helped them to work out where to put them. We decided behind the bath would be colourful and reflect the mosaics on the back of the shower area. We designed a little recessed shelf for bottles and bits and pieces. Often the layout of bathrooms are dictated to by the location of the plumbing, soil pipes etc. However, you can still have a major impact on the design by utilising the available area cleverly and by using different surfaces and tiles to divide the space. We used this zoning method as the bathroom is L-shaped and to make the most of the unusual shape the shower area was created in a deep walk in space, tiled from top to bottom.
Style notes: The storage cabinet is from Superfront– a company with the totally brilliant concept of ‘blinging’ up Ikea cabinets by selling beautifully designed cabinet fronts, sides and legs in gorgeous colours. The tray on the cabinet is from Hay and the ceramic pots are from Graham and Green.
The Girl’s Room
This is a 6-year old’s bedroom and I needed to design a room which she could grow with. I’ve found that girls generally know exactly what they do and don’t like, which is actually really helpful! I strongly believe that parents should like the design of the room as well as the child (after all they’re paying for it!) so I tend to narrow down the choices, picking carefully with the parent the designs they like too. We then present it to our little client so they feel they have an element of choice. I really like working with children as they’re so direct and really appreciate their special rooms. I had to have a pom pom in here and we really wanted to keep the pink to a minimum, so introducing it as an ‘accent’ colour through the pom pom trim on the curtains, piping on the little chair etc worked really well.
I was able to use one of my favourite wallpapers. The room is high up in the new loft conversion and the cloud and bird design is so apt as you really feel you’re in the sky. The White Company bed is like a little house and is super cute! The pom pom lights around the bed are from Cable & Cotton, the wallpaper of from Hygge and West and the little chair we made up in the yellow fabric from Robert Allen, and fuchsia trim is from the Original Chair Company.
Second Guest Bedroom
This is another room in the new loft conversion. The lamp is from Graham and Green, and the stunning Ikat blind fabric is from Manuel Canovas. The sofa is actually a sofa bed which the client already had. We decided to add a touch of luxury and reupholster it in blue velvet. The cushions are from AtmosphereTurque, a company which makes beautiful ikat cushions. The fuschia pink ottoman is from Sofa.com and rug from Louis De Poortere.