Relocating from Edinburgh to London is no simple feat, but finding a flat that met the same standards as their Scottish apartment was an interesting challenge for this couple. ‘When we lived in Edinburgh, we were lucky enough to have a top-floor flat, which was always flooded with light,’ they say. ‘We moved to London two years ago, and wanted to find a home with similar amounts of natural light.’
The couple initially moved to Brockley and, after a year in the Capital city, liked the area enough to want to stay there. ‘We wanted to find a home that we could stamp some personality on, despite renting.’ The two-bedroom flat that they found in a converted Victorian house ticked all the boxes; ‘When we viewed our flat and saw the skylight in the landing, we knew that we had found exactly what we were looking for.’
This house tour originally appeared in Style at Home, April 2017
Split over two floors, the flat’s living room and kitchen are on the first floor and the bedrooms and bathroom on the second floor – a layout that the couple (and their cats) really liked. Although the flat was furnished, they decided to rent it unfurnished so that they could bring their own personality to the space.
‘Our current second living room was a landing, and the owners had a massive black leather sofa in the living room that wasn’t to our taste.’ The couple only moved the pieces of furniture that they really loved from Edinburgh, which meant that they arrived in London without a couch or a bed! But, by starting with a blank canvas, they had space to create a home that’s full of vibrant, individual touches that reflect their own style (rather than that of the landlords).
Moving in without any living room seating, the couple decided to buy two Parker Knoll armchairs instead – to tide them over while they looked for a sofa. ‘Everything in our home comes with a story,’ they say. ‘From the cowboy print chair to the vintage daybed, there’s a tale behind every piece and how we found them or came across them.’
With all the vintage finds and upcycled pieces that are scattered (or artfully arranged, should we say?) throughout the flat, the mid-century style sofa that the couple eventually settled on fits perfectly. Its smart, deep grey finish grounds the many elements in the space.
The couple love a project; they found the wingback armchair upholstered in a cowboy print textile on Freecycle. It had been a child’s naughty chair, where they got put for ‘time out’ and the springs were completely shot. ‘It was in a really sorry state before we reupholstered it, but we managed to fix it and now it’s a real feature in the living room,’ they say.
Another fun feature of this living room corner is the shelf filled with vintage globes. One of the couple used to collect them, but ‘I had to stop as we were running out of space!’
‘When it comes to trying out new things or looking for ideas, I’m not afraid to mix and match, or move things around until they find a “home”,’ says one of the pair. ‘I tend to fall in love with items, buy them, and then figure out where they’ll go afterwards.’ This mantelpiece is a perfect example, housing a collection of ceramic creatures… an obsession that took hold after space for vintage globes ran out! Retro prints add colour and extra charm to this spot in the living room.
The modern white kitchen offers a bright and airy place to cook, but the functional space needed a little cheering up. The couple added the patterned chair to break up the white units and the plain wooden floor. Bright and patterned accessories add pops of energy throughout the neutral space.
From quirky touches to cheeky prints, there’s a reminder everywhere in this home not to take life too seriously. But everything has its place – especially in the kitchen, where a wall organiser comes into its own. ‘We store stationery in this white wall storage unit. It creates a feature as well as keeping useful things to hand.’
Similar storage unit
Made In Design
‘We have tried to style the house to complement our eclectic range of furniture and we think that it is happy and positive – and a little chaotic – but somehow calm too,’ say the couple. This is likely down to the cool-coloured/ neutral walls, which keep the space fresh rather than overwhelming.
The bedroom, with its white cast iron bed frame and white-based bed linen, is a great example of this. ‘We stamped the watermelon pattern on the bedsheets ourselves, using a potato stamp and fabric ink,’ say the couple.
One of the couple did an upholstery course when they were still living in Edinburgh, a fact that makes it more tempting to find projects like the armchair in this cosy corner. ‘When it comes to buying something new to replace a piece, it’s worth thinking whether or not there’s something about the old piece I can change, either by reupholstering or painting. If I still don’t like it, then I’ll consider giving it away.’
Here, plain terracotta pots have been painted with an abstract pattern to match other pieces in the flat, such as the dining chairs.
No space is redundant in this flat – the staircase leading up to the landing that acts as a second living room has a fresh theme: a giant botanical print acts as a backdrop for a series of painted plant pots housing various cacti. Lush look, complete!
‘We love spending time in the second living room, which we created from the landing area. It’s directly under the skylight, so it stays light for longer than anywhere else in the house, plus you can see the stars once it gets dark,’ say the couple of this bold and bright living area.
Here, they revamped a mid-century Ercol day bed using Ikea fabric, to create a relaxed and friendly space.
Other people’s generosity has a helped build this functional and well-styled corner; the mid-century modern sideboard belonged to one of the couple’s aunts, and the chair with the ‘mermaid legs’ was also a gift. ‘It was given to me for free by the owner of a vintage shop, completely unexpectedly – we ended up carrying it to lunch and then around East London for the day!’
Bathrooms in rental properties aren’t the easiest to style, but the couple have made this one unique with a clear glass panel with a Superman design on the wall. It ‘came from my old office, before it was redesigned,’ says one of the couple. ‘He used to be the splashback in out kitchen in Edinburgh but I couldn’t bear to leave him, so I brought him to London with us.’
‘We’re very happy with how our flat looks now, though it probably won’t be long before I have added in another piece of furniture, created some new accessories or moved things around!’