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We Want to Live Here: A Beautiful Living Room Makeover

Cumberland_Park_Shot_01-1We are delighted to feature this amazing living room makeover, by the ultra-talented Laura Stephens. Firstly, the room is serious interiors porn (something we love) and, secondly, W&W played matchmaker! Honestly: Joanna (who lives her with her husband Tim, four-year-old Freddie and Lola, 10 months) discovered Laura when her work was featured on our site.

Did you really find each other through W&W?!

Joanna: Absolutely yes. I had seen a number of articles featuring Laura’s interiors on W&W and when I moved into our new home, she immediately sprung to mind as someone who could help. I love the way she puts together a room using bold colours, textures and architectural pieces of furniture without it looking over-designed.

What was the space like before?

It’s an east facing room and was painted from top to toe in Little Greene ‘Blue Blood’ and had a parquet floor. It had fitted bookshelves that took up a lot of space and the original ceiling cornice was caked in layers of white paint so the original features had been lost. The room – although contemporary – wasn’t to our taste so we wanted to completely strip it back and start again. The first job was to restore the ceiling cornice which was done beautifully by London Plastercraft. We then had a blank canvas for Laura to play with…

Did you have a clear idea about what you wanted?

I wanted a room that we could totally relax in every evening and for me that meant being warm and cosy on comfortable loung-y sofas surrounded by soft lighting and some striking paintings. I liked the idea of having cocktail chairs in the bay window and I’ve long been a fan of greys and pinks and botanical prints. I was clear that I didn’t want it to look like a drawing room that was only for special occasions or a very designed hotel-like space.

Laura, what was your brief from Joanna?

Joanna had a clear brief which, after an initial meeting, we secured in writing. Joanna wanted the drawing room to be a cosy, warm, space that she and her husband wanted to go into every evening. At the same time they wanted it to be an adult space where they could escape, so wanted a sense of laid back luxury, whilst feeling the space was comfortable to relax in and was really ‘them’ . In addition Joanna wanted a couple of botanical touches which gave a nod to her love of plants and flowers reflected in her work as a garden designer. These came in the form of gorgeous bobble trimmed cushions in fabric by the talented pattern designer Abigail Borg whose work Joanna loved.

Were there particular pieces which had to be incorporated?

Joanna knew she wanted a pair of vintage wing backed cocktail chairs. Viremo found us a pair of original 1950s chairs which we had upholstered in a beautiful GP&J Baker fabric.


As Joanna knew the space was going to be used for bigger gatherings we had to provide lots of seating. This came in the form of two sofas. One, the ‘Iggy‘ sofa, was upholstered in a crushed grey velvet and had a  ‘smarter’ look whilst the other (the ‘Isla‘) was a super comfy sofa upholstered in a practical and comfortable brushed cotton which complemented the soft French Grey Dark (Little Greene) walls. Joanna also showed me two beautiful Vanessa Cooper paintings which she previously owned and wanted to use in the space.

Did you have a very clear sense of what would (and wouldn’t) work in the space?

Yes, we did, although the layout took some fiddling around with. Even with a large room it can be tricky fitting everything in. Joanna knew that (apart from the TV cabinet) she wanted freestanding furniture and wanted a couple of vintage pieces to prevent everything looking too ‘new’.


Talk us through what you did…

So, I set up a ‘secret’ pinterest board with Joanna and pinned lots and lots of images. I asked Joanna to ‘like’ the ones she was especially drawn to and add any others she found and loved. The scheme was really born from those images. The key ones were this one – with the grey walls, mustardy green velvet, the second image which had beautiful soft colours, again, greys, soft pinks and creams; and the final image of these gorgeous tactile pebble knobs dipped in old gold (these knobs from Anthropologie were eventually used on the TV cabinet)

BEFORE picture grey copy









We tried many shades of grey which I always paint on large lining sheets which Joanna could move around the room to see what it looked like in areas of light and dark. We decided on French Grey Dark (Little Greene) which, in the light of the room, was a warm, brown based grey rather than a colder feeling blue based grey.

I found a great match for the green velvet from our pinned image from Colefax and Fowler which we had the ‘Valentin‘ buttoned footstool upholstered in (the footstool also doubles as extra seating for little people). We brought in the beautiful dusky pink in the curtains and found the perfect shade, which changed colour in different lights from Larsen fabrics. The curtains were key to the scheme (beautifully made by Julie Stewart) as we wanted them to add a ‘luxe’ feel to the room.  They stand out so well against the ‘French Grey Dark’ walls.


I set up a special ‘lighting’ pinboard on Pinterest as that was something we really needed to get right. Joanna decided she didn’t want a ceiling pendant light, which, apart from looking pretty doesn’t provide soft, flattering light for evenings. We settled on these ‘Bronte‘ wall lights from Heathfield in a grey linen which are fabulously Art Deco looking and elegant

Also from Heathfield we found the beautiful Babylon Ivory crackle lamp with a moss green linen shade to tie in with the footstool and Abigail Borg cushions (also trimmed in a moss green bobble).


A ‘circle’ theme emerged through the gold rings on the console table, the gold ring on Joanna’s Vanessa Cooper painting and the cream silk rings on the fabric of the cocktail chairs. Cumberland_Park_Shot_02

We brought in touches of gold through the knobs above, a lovely gold ringed console table from Atkin and Thyme and this tripod table from Oka.

Images:Chris Snook

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