Before & after: an eclectic Edwardian living room

7/19/2016 08:23:00 am Unknown 1 Comments

Summer is here at last!  I'd like to say I'm sitting on my newly decked patio to write this, but alas, that project is taking a little longer than anticipated...something to do with re-routing plumbing (yawn) so it's going to be a while before I can update you on that. BUT...I am very excited to be able to share the first before and after photos with you from a recently finished client project. Yay!

The clients were a journalist/writer and her school teacher husband.  They had moved into a fabulous Edwardian semi in the leafy East London suburb of Wanstead and wanted to stamp their own style on the place – making it warm, homely and a little bit funky.

I have to confess it was a great project to work on. They had a real sense of personal style, great taste and some quirky collections to weave into the mix. They wanted something traditional and homely, but with a little personality. With one young child and another on the way, they needed some help to translate all of that into a pulled-together home in the space of a few weeks. Eclectic is an overused word when it comes to interiors, but it really does sum up the brief for this project. The house had to reflect her love of vintage fashion, tiffany lamps and radio 4, plus his love of mid-century style, gaming and vinyl. Oh, and books. Lots and lots of books.

The house itself was beautiful, with fantastic original fireplaces, windows and cornicing.  Most of the rooms were nicely proportioned, but it was definitely feeling a little tired and dated.  It absolutely did NOT suit the new owners. Which is where I came in. My challenge was to redesign the 2 downstairs living rooms (yes, 2 of them – serious space envy), a dining room and downstairs loo. I'll start today with the main living room – here's what it looked like before...


Not bad? Great bones, but way too much orange stripped wood and a rather insipid feature wall. Here's what it looks like now...


The starting point was the rug. The clients had long wanted a large persian rug and this living room was the perfect home for one. We went with a rich, vibrant kurdish rug that adds colour, warmth and movement to the room; then added a traditional chesterfield sofa in a matt brown leather in the bay window (you can just see the arm poking into the pictures above). 


Given the brief, I had to bring in some vintage items. The mid-century Danish armchairs are a great counter balance to the heavy chesterfield they face, and the yellow/green upholstery makes them stand out just enough. The original Hans Wegner coffee table echoes the style of the chairs, (and was frankly a bit of a steal). It's a great size for this large living room too and helps to break up the rug.

Finally, the vintage Italian murano glass chandelier is a great alternative to more traditional crystal chandeliers. It's substantial yet delicate and catches the great morning light in this room.


Next came the alcove shelves. The easy option would have been to add traditional built-in wooden alcove shelves with cabinets at the bottom, but it's been done so often that I felt it was too obvious for this pair. We went for something a little harder edged – these bespoke steel and scaffold board shelving units. The frame has a raw, industrial feel, but is also surprisingly delicate. The narrow profile of the steel doesn't intrude too much into the room and lets the gorgeous fireplace take centre stage.  They actually feel surprisingly airy – they're nice and tall to maximise the sense of height yet don't feel as though they are closing the room in.

A LOT of measuring went into these shelves, as well as several redesigns, but I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out. In the right hand alcove, the bottom 3 shelves are slightly deeper to accommodate the record player and growing vinyl collection. 

In the left hand alcove, the television is mounted on a wall bracket. This allows it to be pulled forward when watching TV without the steel upright obstructing viewing from the sofa. Clever heh? (Pats self on back...) Seriously, the anxiety dreams these alcove shelves induced took me back to my teenage years – it was like that dream you'd have the night before an exam where you turn up 2 hours late and miss the whole thing (except this time it was the dream where the shelves turn up and won't fit through the door or the shelves turn up and are too small for the TV or even the shelves turn up and are too wide for the get the idea, sad isn't it?) But when you're working with wood you have a certain amount of leeway. If something doesn't quite fit then you can shave an edge off here, reposition a shelf there. With steel, you really don't have that flexibility, so accuracy is everything. My tip? Measure everything at least 4 times (and then still stress about it)! 


The same can be said of curtains (measure, measure and measure again). We went with simple, pale grey linen curtains that blend in with the F&B Cornforth White walls. Originally I proposed a more patterned option but I have to say I think that these are perfect. The windows themselves are original and ornate and need no real embellishment – these linen drapes do their job quietly without distracting the eye from all of the interesting furniture and accessories in the room. 


Speaking of accessories, the finishing touches are always absolutely key to pulling a room together. The round mirror contrasts nicely with the geometric shapes and lines. Kilim cushions work with both the mid-century chairs and the chesterfield sofa, and echo the colours of the rug. The large lamp on the hearth was a hand-me-down that we transformed into much more of a statement with a new, oversized shade. The Victorian plant tables and tiffany lamps showcase the owners' eclectic style and sit surprisingly well next to the more modern chairs and industrial shelves. Vintage maps hang on the wall – showing off another of the owners' existing collections. And finally, a few plants in cement vases add a splash of life and colour to the shelves.

So, there you have it! An eclectic Edwardian living room for a modern family. As ever I have the fabulous Carole Poirot to thank for the after shots (you can thank my iPhone for the before!)

So what do you think of this before and after? Would you be happy to hang out here? 

Stay tuned for the dining room...

1 comment:

  1. I have read a few of the articles on your website now, and I really like your style of blogging. I added it to my favorites blog site list and will be checking back soon. Please check out my site as well and let me know what you think.