retro LUXE

Ju­lia and Paul’s home gives vin­tage a new twist, mixed with rock ’n’ roll pho­tog­ra­phy, iconic movie poster prints and quirky col­lecta­bles

Living Etc - - HOMES - Pho­tog­ra­phy ⁄ Rei Moon * Pro­duc­tion ⁄ Mary Weaver * Words ⁄ Jo Leevers

i’m drawn to ob­jects that tell a story,’ says Ju­lia Thomp­son. And true to her word, she has plenty of tales about the vin­tage finds dotted around her fam­ily home. There’s a great story of how she hag­gled over a pair of or­ange Sev­en­ties swivel chairs in the blaz­ing heat of Provence. And then there’s the one about rum­mag­ing her way around Am­s­ter­dam’s flea mar­kets in search of her favourite amber glass­ware. With Ju­lia, even the more con­tem­po­rary pieces come with a back­story, such as the por­traits of Jarvis Cocker that re­mind her of her Nineties par­ty­ing days. Or the risqué Ellen von Un­werth print in the mas­ter bed­room. ‘It was the first piece of art Paul and I bought to­gether,’ she says. ‘Not ev­ery woman would fancy that over her bed, but I love it.’

Ju­lia has al­ways had an eye for the un­com­mon beauty of vin­tage pieces and the home she shares with her hus­band Paul and their son Frank brings out the glam­orous side of all things aged. ‘Some peo­ple as­sume that vin­tage style equals fusty and dusty and I get that no­body wants to live in a granny house,’ she says. ‘But who wouldn’t want to live in a home that feels in­di­vid­ual?’

For Ju­lia, creat­ing a look that’s fresh – and 100 per cent granny-free – is all about how she puts old and new pieces to­gether. ‘The beauty of us­ing vin­tage items is that it stirs you into be­ing creative, as you’ve got to give them a dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter,’ she says. ‘You have to add your own twist.’

Ju­lia worked as a fash­ion stylist for sev­eral years, so mix­ing, re­ar­rang­ing and what she calls ‘end­lessly frou-frouing’ come nat­u­rally to her. ‘Fid­dling around un­til things look right is some­thing I’ve al­ways been able to do,’ she says. ‘It’s just that, these days, I’ve pro­gressed from do­ing it on mod­els to work­ing on a larger scale, both here and in clients’ homes.’

The fam­ily has lived in this Ge­or­gian townhouse for 10 years, but rein­vent­ing its style and struc­ture has been a slow-burner, rather than a rush-in-an­drip-out project. ‘Frank was a baby when we moved in, so we just en­joyed liv­ing here and took our time de­cid­ing what we wanted to do,’ says Ju­lia. Then, three years ago, the cou­ple fi­nally bit the bul­let and re­worked the house’s lay­out. Robert Dye Ar­chi­tects cre­ated a dou­ble-height ex­ten­sion at the back, which added a study to the higher level and a large kitchen-diner at gar­den level. A set of roof lights and sub­tle ver­ti­cal open­ings be­tween lev­els al­low a free flow of light, so the two floors feel con­nected.

‘Pre­vi­ously, there was an Eight­ies-style conservatory at the back of the house,’ says Ju­lia. ‘It wasn’t an invit­ing space – it was damp and cold and we avoided it. This also made us less in­clined to use the gar­den, which was a long, over­grown patch, which our dog Coco de­stroyed af­ter rac­ing up and down in pur­suit of the lo­cal foxes.’

Once the ex­ten­sion was com­plete, the pair com­ple­mented it with a gar­den re­design by Bar­bara Sami­tier, turn­ing that stretch of wrecked lawn into a se­quence of serene spa­ces full of lush green­ery and linked by paved paths. ‘We now use the out­side spa­ces all the time – eat­ing break­fast, sit­ting out with friends or hav­ing din­ner to­gether,’ says Ju­lia. ‘It has re­ally trans­formed how we live.’ The gar­den de­sign works es­pe­cially well be­cause Bar­bara looked at the house’s in­te­rior style be­fore she un­der­took any work out­side. ‘She un­der­stood my love of in­trigu­ing finds and cre­ated a gar­den that feels sim­i­lar. So it’s re­laxed, but also dotted with hid­den trea­sures,’ says Ju­lia.

Back in­side, her in­ter­est­ing finds range from mid-cen­tury so­fas to iconic film and ex­hi­bi­tion posters. ‘I love the way a poster sums up the glam­our of an era, even down to the fonts and im­ages,’ she says. ‘And when one in­cludes a pic­ture of Steve Mc­queen, that’s a def­i­nite bonus.’ By mix­ing pieces that whis­per of a glam­orous past with a dash of moder­nity, Ju­lia’s home feels con­tem­po­rary. Light­ing by Jasper Mor­ri­son, a De La Es­pada cof­fee ta­ble and a su­per­sized Po­liform bed all add pol­ish to the weathered edges. But rest as­sured, there’s no dan­ger of Ju­lia suc­cumb­ing to this aes­thetic en­tirely. ‘The idea of liv­ing in a white box full of mod­ern fur­ni­ture makes my heart sink a lit­tle,’ she says, smil­ing. ‘I pre­fer pieces that come with a bit of soul.’

Pho­tog­ra­phy dis­played around the home also works with Ju­lia’s de­sign ethos, in­clud­ing Do­minique Tarlé’s im­age of Keith Richards and his son Mar­lon, which was taken in 1971 dur­ing the mu­si­cian’s self-im­posed tax ex­ile to France. ‘I like that it’s not im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous who they are,’ says Ju­lia. ‘You won­der what’s hap­pen­ing in that par­tic­u­lar mo­ment be­fore you think about the rock star el­e­ment.’ As with ev­ery­thing else Ju­lia has cu­rated for this home, there’s a feel­ing of a tale be­hind the ac­qui­si­tion of this print just wait­ing to be un­cov­ered. ‘Who can re­sist a good story?’ she says.

Find out more about Ju­lia’s work at frank­in­te­ri­ors. space. See Bar­bara Sami­tier’s land­scap­ing port­fo­lio at bar­barasami­tier­gar­dens.co.uk

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