Take a tour around this quirky meets contemporary London home

Artist Rory Dobner and his wife Claire have created a magical space that delights and surprises at every turn, from a pair of joined up flats in a Victorian mansion blockclaire and rory

The owners, artist Rory and wife Claire, who co-run RoryDobner.com, and their two young sons, live in a pair of joined-up flats in a Victorian mansion block in north London.

The home they have created together is a magical warren where intrigue and whimsy peep from every corner, in arrangements as deftly drawn as the Rory originals on the walls.

The family dubbed their home Hamsterville because of its circuitous layout and disorientating shifts of level. There's a run of bedrooms off a long corridor on the sleepy side, while Daddy's side with its studio was created from what had been a cake-slice of courtyard.

Dining goes on in the adjoining room marked EAT, beneath a super-scaled pair of Sarah Stockbridge lips, and the downstairs bathroom is a dark affair, finished in black and verdigris-pitted brass.

Just as with Rory's Monocled Cat or Smoky Fish, these rooms are full of intriguing detail.

When you look at something in the singular, you can really see it properly, says Rory. There's no background, but when you see a fish floating in a white circle, your brain fills in the gaps. You imagine him underwater or in a goldfish bowl. But when you start to wonder how he's smoking that's where the humour comes in.

1/10 Paint:

white wall with different kind of art and paintings

(Image credit: TBC)

Farrow and Ball

2/10 Hallway

hallway that boasts a wrought iron bannister

(Image credit: TBC)

The original flats are now connected by a hallway that boasts a wrought iron bannister added by Rory and Claire. ‘I like the way it looks like railings outside a London museum,’ says Rory. ‘It brings the outside in, with a twist.’ The black gloss paint on stainless steel artwork is one of Rory’s early works: ‘I grew up loving the sculptural curves of Henry Moore and I try and capture flow and curvature in my drawings, he says.



3/10 Kitchen

kitchen with white walls wooden cabinet

(Image credit: TBC)

The worktops and door front in the minimalist yet chic kitchen are made from old cherry wood chemistry lab worktops, complete with Bunsen burner holes. ‘We cleaned them up a bit – but not too much,’ says Rory. A skinny pantry room next to the kitchen means surfaces stay uncluttered. 'You need less out on display than you think.’


Tove Adman at Scandinavian Design Center

4/10 Dining area

dining area with white walls and arts

(Image credit: TBC)

The dining table is made from a New Zealand wool press. ‘We bought this sight unseen on a trip there,’ says Rory. ‘It pitched up months later dismantled - and I had to work out how to reassemble a pile of planks and rusted bolts. The photograph of Sara Stockbridge's mouth is an ex-display image from Vivienne Westwood's shop. It keeps Claire's Westwood obsession topped up and the boys like the irony of a giant pair of lips hanging over them as they eat, he adds.

Floor lamp


5/10 Kitchen wall

kitchen wall with art on old plates

(Image credit: TBC)

A wall of plates in the kitchen makes a decorative feature. The Smoky Fish idea came from seeing this guy every day outside his glass office, on his cigarette break, says Rory. He looked so fed up, all droopy, with a fag hanging out of his mouth. He reminded me of a goldfish, doing the same thing every day. But who's to say goldfish don't look out of their bowls at us and think, Oh, there they go, doing the same thing every day.

Rory Dobner

6/10 Living room

living room with black sofa set and red printed carpet

(Image credit: TBC)

Rory and Claire's home is full of 'booty' that's been salvaged, customised or bartered. When Rory worked with The Rug Company, we did swaps as part payment, says Claire. The sofa and chairs are vintage Liberty, recovered in satin: So we got a unique set in exactly the right colour, for under a grand, she adds. A cabinet of curiosities’in the corner is home to random objects of beauty or intrigue.

Rug and wall tapestry

The Rug Company

Sofa fabric

John Lewis

7/10 Study

study looks like studio where all designs hang in decorative display

(Image credit: TBC)

The study is where Rory used to work before he had a studio, and it's where his earliest designs still hang in a decorative display, along with family mementoes. Lots of the drawings started as little joke doodles: an ant with a hammer, who is trying to break his way out of a tiny frame, or a frog eyeing up the fly trapped in the next frame along, he says.

Dodo Figure

Mister Finch

8/10 Single bedroom

single bedroom with fun monochrome scheme with a striped bed and purple throw

(Image credit: TBC)

Bedrooms feed off a long corridor, once a separate flat and which the owner's sons now call ‘the sleepy side’ of the house. The striking space has a fun monochrome scheme with a 'humbug' striped bed as the main focal point. A purple bedspread injects rich colour.

Striped fabric

9/10 Master bedroom

master bedroom with leather straps

(Image credit: TBC)

This bed is genius it looks like leather straps, but is made from iron, says Rory. The chandelier was bought in Amsterdam. Another thing that arrived dismantled in a jumble of pieces and had to be reassembled. I love jobs like that, he adds. As with Rory's sons room a vibrant bedspread in this case acid yellow makes an eye popping addition to a dark and dramatic space.

And So To Bed
Maison de Vacances

10/10 Bathroom

bathroom with lassco taps

(Image credit: TBC)

By his decision to go dark in the bathroom, you may think that Rory was a teenage Goth. Far from it. I grew up on Hayling Island, so more 'outdoorsy', surfer dude, he says.