Interiors stylist Milly Goodwin and her husband, interiors photographer David Cleveland, are the most talented, creative couple you can possibly imagine. Having cut her stylist’s tooth at Living Etc and Easy Living, Milly is now a freelance stylist and interiors consultant. She is also utterly delightful. She and David share the most super-stylish flat in a newly chi chi part of North London – although two will soon become three as they are expecting their first baby in April. We are completely delighted to feature her flat on W&W. (Extra thanks to the talented David Cleveland for the beautiful pictures.)
“Originally we were looking for a ground floor garden flat, ” says Milly of finding her period flat. “But, with the park literally at the end of the road,. we took a peak at this one and instantly fell in love with the proportions, which give it a feeling of space and light that ground floor flats lacked.
On one hand we were pretty lucky, it was just looking a bit tired, but on the other it has meant that we can’t really justify the cost of new ‘big stuff’ (kitchen/bathroom); Davie has been pining after a new kitchen since we moved in that would be more our style – instead we’ve shelved our dreams for the next place.”
The living room
“Through my work, I am often in homes that are clean, neutral and inevitably minimal, it seems to be the palette du jour. Of course they are beautiful, but they also leave me feeling a bit flat: it seems so obvious, I suppose, and so I get really excited when I go to somewhere that has something different about it, a bit more imagination. I crave strong colour and pattern and I’m also always astounded by the lack of stuff in these aforementioned homes. I understand wanting to be uncluttered and streamlined but I need some sign of life and a person’s history to feel like I’m in their home.
In terms of how I approach my own home, I think of decorating as a kind of curating:some things I can buy but ultimately I have a huge back catalogue of objects and a smaller collection of furniture I need to tie together. Consequently I would always look at something and think of a way to reinvent it before I thought to buy a new one.
Of course the likes of high street favourites Zara Home, H&M home, Habitat, Heal’s and (dare I say it?) Ikea make an appearance in our home, but I like to surround myself with things that feel more personal and less generic so if possible I give them a little twist, such as the grey chest of drawers in our bedroom – originally an Ikea number, I recovered them in grey felt and now, hopefully, you’d never know. Some other favourites include Ben Pentreath , Darkroom London, Rockett St George and Bloomingville.”
“One piece is always the starting point for any room, whether it’s a colour you’ve obsessed over (I always wanted a very dark, indigo office) or a scrap of fabric (I bought the Mulberry fabric that are now our sofa cushions in a Liberty fabric sale four years before I set to work on our living room) then you way you can work out from there but you always have something to refer back to you keep you on track.
I love strong, bold colour; ironically, ‘brave’ for me would be keeping a wall white. If you wanted to give it a go, I’d suggest you opt for the richest, deepest tone you dare and if you don’t want to go the whole hog keep any architectural elements (windows, skirtings etc) white or a pale neutral to break it up. Adding in raw textures such as sisal or rough sawn wood floors, natural linens and chalky walls can help deep colours feel less imposing or for a smarter, more tailored look introduce jewel toned silks, rich velvets and strong pattern. Our living room walls are painted in Dark Lead emulsion by Little Greene Paint Co.
Falling in love on almost an hourly basis is a bit of an occupational hazard when you’re as immersed in the design and furnishings world as I am, so editing has become a key skill. Whilst I’ll admit to having several trunks filled with fabrics in the loft, reversible cushions [on the sofa] allow me to live with some of my favourites.
“I cannot help buy buy fabrics and anything to do with storage. Fabrics because I find them so inspiring and love having a stash to pull from, even the smallest offcut has a place in my home – an impromptu placemat or when I find time I’ll sew a few together into lavender bags (great for keeping your shoes fresh!). Storage because it solves the problem of my ever growing collection of stuff.”
Styling a mantelpiece
“My husband David bought me the vintage sofa syphons on one of our first dates: as a surprise he whisked me off to Bath, little did he know he’d spend most of it in one of my favourite salvage yards, Walcot.The antique apothecary jar on the right was the ‘guest book’ at our wedding as it holds the ‘messages in a bottle’ from our friends and family and the display dome next to it looks after the cork from the first bottle of champagne opened on the same day.
It’s a well-known trick, but glass display domes have a knack of elevating the most everyday of objects and are especially good for collections of small items, even if you collected old tissues I bet they would like a whole lot more interesting inside one of these (at a push!) I’ve also seen these domes used a lot to display taxidermy which gave me the idea of the white painted bird, I picked up this figurine in a local charity shop for pennies, spray painted it white and voila.
The armchair is an Ikea purchase, but one I’m particularly proud of. This grey is the original upholstery but since you ask we have now had it recovered in the African print fabric you can see sitting on top.”
“Very few of us have an enviable collection of beautiful, cloth bound books with which to fill our bookshelves, instead its more common to have an awkward mix of oversized coffee table books, endless cookery books, travel guides and well-loved paperbacks. Yet, if you’re anything like m,e you’re loathe to squirrel them away in some cupboard never to see them again so I found a way to make them work for me. We built these floating shelves into the alcoves either side of the fireplace and made them just deep enough to accommodate both the coffee table books and the paperbacks, now arranged in a vague height order with the gaps filled in with yet more sentimental stuff, giving us points of interest within the vast shelves. (Although I think Davie finds the puppets my parents brought back from Rajasthan a bit creepy lurking in the bookcase!)”
“Sadly, the sideboard is not an original ’50’s number, but a shrewd find from the flagship Paperchase store in London, from time to time they stock some brilliant pieces of furniture up on the first floor. Its also home to some of my favourite holiday memories; the two elephants came back with us from Kerala, India – we watched an incredibly talented guy carve these in his workshop from a single piece of marble.
We have a bit of a soft spot for New York, as we got engaged in central park and Davie’s best friend, Ben lives out there so it suits me perfectly that it’s also a bit of a stylists haven for ‘props’ (AKA an inexhaustible excuse for yet more stuff!) On our most recent trip I picked up these rolls of ticket stubs and the vintage Chinese firework boxes.”
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The dining area
“The Eero Saarinen dining table and Gervsoni ‘grey’ chairs were an incredibly generous wedding gift from our friends and family. The porcelain teapot pendant lights are from Original BTC. The curtains are a bit of a work in progress as I made them in a rush when we first moved in: I should have made them full length but not having made curtains before this attempt I will ill equipped for the amount of fabric involved so, when I get around to it, I think I will edge them in a contrasting fabric to finish them off.”
“I think a collection should have its roots in something you love, why else bother to collect it?! The candlesticks started after my friend and product designer Reiko Kaneko gave me a prototype of her ceramic ‘dripping’ candlesticks (seen on our mantelpiece).
Sadly we’re not in the big leagues of art collecting but looking on the bright side it leaves us free to simply choose something because we love it (and can afford it) rather than worrying about any potential resale value or investing in the ‘right artist’. The map collecting started after Ben, the best man at our wedding, gave us a vintage print of Brooklyn, New York which is where we got engaged (and he lived at the time so played a key part in orchestrating).”
We used some vintage hungarian linen grain sacks as our stair runner, sourced from Beyond France . Six years on, it is looking a bit tired but as it was under £200 to buy (we fitted it ourselves) it wasn’t such a bad purchase. The walls are painted in ‘Whiting’ matt emulsion from Little Greene Paint Co.”
Get the look
“There is a whole science behind paint colours and tones, but I don’t really go in for all that as I think it complicates the issue too much. In the end, what appeals to one person doesn’t necessarily another. Light levels in a room also change throughout the day, so what could seem cold in the morning could take on another mood later on, so I think its best to choose a range of sample tones that you like and put them up at several points in your room and observe how they change in your room throughout the day/week before you make your decision.
A great way to avoid paler, neutral colours from feeling too flat is to use them in a chalky finish. It used to be a very specialist, difficult to apply finish but more and more companies now offer them to the public in an easier to apply form (try Edward Bulmer or Ecos paints. We opted for Salt Lake III chalky emulsion, Francesca’s Paints Ltd – we find the slight chalky texture enhances the tone of the paint.
I had covered the Ikea chest of drawers in thick grey felt with my trusty upholstery gun for a magazine shoot I was working on, it was such painstaking work that I couldn’t bare to let it go in the skip afterwards so I took it home, replaced the handles and protected it with some ScotchGuard waterproof spray.
The cloud blanket is by Donna Wilson, available from Future and Found. We bought this fluoro electrical flex and the fittings from Urban Cottage Industries, a fantastic resource for industrial style lighting and wired them all together for our bedside lights.”
“Our bathroom is the room that has suffered the most from my urge to decorate; the small, manageable proportions always call to me on a quiet, wet day. As I always have a bit of spare paint or wallpaper kicking about, it has had five makeovers since we moved in, although the current one is a favourite so I think it might be staying, for now. Previously the walls were covered in Nina Campbell’s ‘Perroquet’ wallpaper, but the rest of the room was a bit lacklustre. So we stripped it back, re-plastered the walls, boxed in the pipes around the WC and put in new skirting and a new radiator which meant us (because we did all the work ourselves) filling in an alarming 1m wide hole where the pipes had been moved.
We revived a grubby mirror we found in the street with sugar soap and painted the edge in ‘orange glow’ fluorescent paint from specialist paint company Rendona. The walls are now covered in ‘Richmond Park’ wallpaper by Zoffany. The bath surround is made with reclaimed scaffolding boards that we had originally used as tabletops at our wedding a year earlier and the screening curtain is made from a coffee bean sack I rescued from a supplier at Borough Market, London before it went in the bin.”
“Originally, I rather optimistically recycled the chalkboard calendar (from Rockett St George) wall sticker from a shoot I was working on – I wasn’t sure how practical it would be, only being a month to view, but it is actually the most useful thing in my office. I keep an electronic diary for longer-term arrangements but this allows me to plan and see my diary much more clearly on a day-to-day basis.
Visitors often think the walls are black but the colour actually has a faint blue/green tone that gives it a more warmth to live with: ‘Black Blue’ estate emulsion, Farrow & Ball.
Get the look
However….. As tends to be the way, we will be living on a building site when the baby arrives in April as we are extending up into the loft. Our office will move up there and then what is currently the office will become our little boy’s nursery.”
“His nursery is the room I have been most excited about decorating in my history of decorating so I have put together a mood board [above] to filter all the ideas that keep me awake at night. I’ve been warned I might end up with an over stimulated, sleepless baby, but I want his room to set his imagination alight and be filled with fantastical things that in years to come he’ll still love – and if he finds the yellow ceiling or wallpaper a bit much that can always change.
We’ve already bought the giant felt animal safari heads from Graham and Green and the origami star mobile on Etsy and I’m making some giant star floor cushions to go in his ‘bed sheet den’ alongside the gold toadstool nightlight. The changing table is actually a trolley from Cox and Cox (don’t worry, I’ve trialled it on a friends baby and all seems very safe and comfortable!) The giant star light is from BHS and we’ve just bought him a giant dolls house from a charity shop which I plan to renovate into a chest of drawers for him. (Not very boyish I know, but I promise to butch it up somehow…)”
Photography David Cleveland