HAPPY & BRIGHT A sea of bland magnolia has been replaced by pops of uplifting colour in this London semi
Charlotte King has used bold splashes of colour and decorative touches to turn her bland ex-rental property into a cheerful family home bursting with character
Christmas was looming and Charlotte King, who was then pregnant with her second child, was trying to find a larger house in London for her growing family. Her last two attempted house purchases had fallen through and she was beginning to feel downhearted about the whole affair.
Then Charlotte went to view a tall, semi-detached Dutch gable house in west London and things started to look up. ‘As soon as I walked through the door, it had me,’ she says. This was despite the fact that it had previously been rented out, and looked somewhat unloved. ‘There was a sea of bland magnolia, but I fell in love with what the house could become for our family,’ she recalls.
Although she was generally happy with the property’s layout, the dark and gloomy lower-ground floor needed a rethink. Aided by family friend, interior designer Annie Rice, Charlotte created an open-plan kitchen with a sitting and dining area, plus a playroom and laundry room. She also exchanged the dated conservatory for an orangery with bifold doors that open on to the re-landscaped garden. ‘When I’m in the kitchen during the summer, the view of the garden is like a wonderful flower painting,’ says Charlotte.
A year after moving in, the building work was complete, but Charlotte had not touched the rest of the property. ‘The reception rooms were still full of packing boxes, which was maddening as they’re the most beautiful rooms in the house,’ she says. With files of pictures torn out of magazines, Charlotte was not short of ideas, but the problem was knowing where to begin. The answer came from another friend, Henriette von Stockhausen of VSP Interiors.
Totally unfazed by Charlotte’s profusion of material, Henriette set about creating a cohesive decorating scheme. For Charlotte, the additional bonus was that Henriette pushed her to take risks with the interior. ‘She found some incredible textured wallpapers and fabrics that you want to reach out and touch,’ says Charlotte. ‘I would never have considered some of them.’ She now likens the finished house to a boutique hotel. ‘If it hadn’t been for Henriette, I think I would still be living with magnolia walls.’
CHILD’S BEDROOM Pops of vibrant pink enliven this subtle scheme. For a similar desk, try the oxford, £275, the great Little trading Company