oasis of Calm
Pip and Matt Chawner were faced with purple walls and patterned carpets when they moved into their now serene home
Pops of vibrant colour play against a neutral palette, creating interest in this serene London house
When Pip and Matt Chawner moved to East Dulwich, London, thirteen years ago with their three children, Fergus, then five, Béa, then three, and Dylan just three weeks old, some of their friends asked: ‘ Where on earth is that?’ ‘The area wasn’t well known and it was a bit run-down,’ reminisces Pip. ‘But, ironically, many of our friends have now moved in.’ Pip was enthusiastic about the potential of their new home. She saw past the purple walls and patterned carpets, and fell in love with the generously sized rooms, high ceilings and bay windows.
Time for a change
‘Only the layout was strange,’ Pip explains. ‘The boot room and boiler were placed to overlook the garden, with only one tiny window in the old kitchen enjoying the view outside. I wasn’t keen on not being able to see the kids playing. I’m amazed that we lived in the house for six years before making changes.’ Aided by her sister-in-law, Tiffany Ogden, an interior designer, Matt and Pip drew up plans. With the help of an excellent builder, the back of the house was extended, the kitchen upgraded, bathrooms modernised and bulky Edwardian fireplaces were changed for contemporary styles.
After the builders left, Pip was horrified to receive a £20,000 estimate for curtains and soft furnishings. ‘So I decided to go on a soft furnishings course called All Sewn Up.’ Having studied at the London College of Fashion, Pip quickly picked up the skills and ended up making all the blinds and curtains herself. ‘I soon realised the quote was reasonable,’ says Pip. ‘Quality curtains are a labour of love!’
One memorable Christmas Day in 2014, Pip threw her vintage mink jacket onto a chair and had a eureka moment. ‘I realised what a great cushion it would make,’ she says. She made up the cushion and from there her business grew. Pip now restyles vintage fur coats and out of the leftovers makes fur-trimmed velvet cushions and fur-edged throws, many of which adorn the sitting room and bedrooms.
Never one to compromise, Pip made it her policy to only buy the best for her house whatever the cost, such as the Murano glass light fitting she insisted on buying for the sitting room. However, to compensate, she fortunately found some rare bargains on ebay and French chairs for £5 in a junk shop. From past fashion trips, she had already collected exotic pieces of furniture, which were happily added to the mix.
At Christmas time the house sparkles with lights layered on shelves and intertwined with fir branches and lanterns. A large Christmas tree shimmers in the bay window, with presents piled up beneath ‘We all love Christmas,’ says Pip. ‘Snuggled under a cosy throw, there’s nothing like sipping a glass of bubbly in front of the fire with friends and family.’
SITTING ROOM Pops of bright colour punctuate the neutral palette used throughout the house. trimmed cushions, £150 each; and trimmed throw, £250, all Philippa London
ENTRANCE The radiator cover provides a home for the lanterns Pip and Matt bought in Japan. For a similar garland, try the Christmas garland, £21.99, Lights4fun.co.uk. try India Jane for similar lanterns
KITCHEN Designed and made by the builders, the handle-free units create a sleek look. benchmarx has comparable kitchens. walls painted in Stone IV, £54.59 for 2.5L, Paint & Paper Library
MAIN BEDROOM The dark wood of the bed acts as a foil to the pale walls. Sleigh bed, £2,500, Simon horn, is comparable
BATHROOM A sculpted bath is a true showstopper. Verona bath by bette, £ 449.94, Luxury bathroom Solutions. wreath, £22, one world