The power of balance
In the home of celebrity photographer Billie Scheepers, the chic modern style you might expect sits happily alongside toddler-friendly functionality
Photographer Billie Scheepers is known for bringing an air of old-school glamour to her beauty, fashion and celebrity shoots. But one of her favourite images, which hangs in her living room, captures a moment of unposed pleasure. ‘I was due to photograph Annie Lennox when our baby Freddie was just a few months old, so I ended up taking him along,’ she says. ‘Annie was brilliant. The first thing she did was pick Freddie up and hold him up to the camera, so I took a quick picture. She’s just peeping over his shoulder, smiling, and it captures a very natural, warm moment.’
Billie – who shoots for leading magazines including Stella, and has photographed Elle Macpherson, Thandie Newton and Damien Hirst among others – says her approach always includes ‘a spark of the unexpected’, and the same could be said of her interiors style. On the surface, the London home she shares with her husband David Harrigan, a media lawyer, and Freddie, now 16 months old, displays sublime orderliness, with seamless resin flooring, a kitchen island clad in brass, and steel-framed glazed doors. The walls and woodwork are painted in dark blue and pure white, creating a crisp contrast. (‘That’s the German in me,’ jokes Billie, who is originally from Berlin.)
But look closer, and you find that she and David have also added some unpredictable touches. The metal chandelier over the dining table is a very shouty shade of red, while the coral colour of the kitchen cabinets was not picked from standard paint swatches but mixed up to order, to match the shade of an Acne Studios carrier bag. ‘David came home with a new pair of jeans, put down the bag, and I said, “That’s it – that’s the colour I want,”’ says Billie. David’s beloved Vitsoe shelving system – a triumph of minimalist design precision – has been dotted with an eclectic mix of trinkets, books and photographs by Billie.
Then there’s the small matter of having a toddler in the house – surely a guaranteed way to introduce chaos. ‘Yes, things have certainly got less predictable since Freddie started walking,’ Billie agrees. ‘And now he’s the one most likely to be rearranging the bookshelves, rather than me.’
The family moved in when Freddie was three months old, having rented nearby while the whole property was renovated. ‘The previous decor was very retro – ’70s floral fitted carpets everywhere, even in the kitchen,’ says Billie. ‘In fact, it would have been great for a fashion shoot…’
The coral colour of the kitchen cabinets was mixed up to order, to match the shade of an Acne Studios carrier bag
‘I like the clean lines of our home – but if it gradually becomes invaded by Jedis and dinosaurs, that’s fine too’
Their builder knocked through and extended the ground floor, and added a loft extension, which now houses the master bedroom suite. The open-plan kitchen was a key part of the new design, with an interesting mix of materials, such as metal, Silestone quartz and resin. The fact that those surfaces can be conveniently wiped clean of toddler detritus is an added bonus.
Throughout their home, the couple have prioritised both style and family-friendliness. Special photographs or artworks are hung just above toddler height, and at the end of the day Freddie’s toys are gathered up and stashed in deep cotton baskets. ‘In some of my friends’ houses, you can barely walk without stepping on kid stuff, but it’s nice to reclaim some grown-up space in the evening,’ says Billie. Another way she beats toy overkill is by using toyboxclub.co.uk: ‘Every month you receive a box of toys and send back the old ones. You get variety without the clutter.’
Immaculate and stylish as the house undoubtedly is, Billie insists that combining their interiors aesthetic with Pampers and Playmobil hasn’t been an issue. ‘It’s all about keeping a balance,’ she says. ‘I like the clean lines of our home – but if it gradually becomes invaded by Jedis and dinosaurs, that’s fine too. It will just add another layer of personality.’
Opposite A vintage Kurt Østervig dining table, bought on Gumtree, is teamed with Eames DSW chairs and a Tripp Trapp adjustable high chair by Stokke. Above In the kitchen, the brass splashback and island contrast with rougher painted-brick slips. Left Classic shapes have been chosen for the living room, in the form of a George Nelson Platform bench, a sofa by Hay and a Made armchair
Clockwise from above left Billie bought the chair in her office from Maisons du Monde, with feeding her son in mind. The rug is by Paul Smith for The Rug Company; the office is also home to a vintage Ercol daybed and a Tage pendant light by Care of Bankeryd; in the top-floor master bedroom, a painting by Melbourne artist Tracey Mock sets the colour palette