Buying a property is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in your life. But the decision-making doesn’t stop once you’ve signed the contract and said goodbye to a debt-free life. You then have to choose what style to decorate your new home. Writer Alex Holder and her husband Mark chose to buck the single style trend and opt for two distinct interiors in their two-bedroom house in De Beauvoir, London. Upstairs: a calming Nordic sanctuary. Downstairs: a bold space to work and play in.
“We could never live in a hotel room style space where everything is hidden, we have to be surrounded buy our books and things.” With dark walls, warm wooden flooring and rich fabrics, Alex and Mark have created a mature but inviting home that’s perfect for entertaining, creates a productive working environment, and also works for their son, Cass: “When choosing furniture, we have to consider how it will look after a week of living with our one-year-old.”
“With the Scott armchair, I just loved the colour blocking and the rich material. It's such an inviting chair. We have a lot of books and we spend a lot of time reading and writing in that room as we both work from home. It’s good having a space where you feel like you’re sitting down to do a task.”
When asked, most people would advise that following trends is a big decorating faux pas. But sometimes, your personal taste is just so in right now. “The biggest mistake you can make while decorating your home is trying to be too different. We nearly painted our entire kitchen green because we convinced ourselves navy was too ‘basic’. I’m so glad we didn’t.”
But don’t let appearances fool you. Venturing into a dark colour palette can be a nerve-wracking experience and even the bold who have taken the plunge don’t dive in head first: “I’d advise testing your paint first and testing it on different walls in the room not just in one spot.” As well as getting the right look with the right lighting, it’s important to balance the styling with the function. “The navy works with a load of Cass’s toys. We didn’t think about it but it makes it feel like a playroom when there’s colour in there.”
“My advice would be to spend money on the floor and worktops. The floor was our most expensive purchase. I love natural wood and what we have is reclaimed. When you rebuild a whole house, you won’t have any original features and I really wanted something old. Now, it doesn’t all feel new because the floor added a texture and a tiny bit of history.”
Even though Alex and Mark chose two styles for their house, they wanted one space fit for the whole family. “Knowing Cass is in a safe environment is the most important thing to me. For my partner, he just wants it to look nice so he’d have a glass coffee table if he could.”
“I just can’t live in a place where you’re constantly on edge and you’re constantly putting stuff away. It’s just not enjoyable. We have had to sacrifice certain things to make it safe for Cass. You can’t have lamps and vases. You can’t have a big, heavy marble fireplace. There’s definitely a big compromise. But as I said, I think it’s worth it to let him run around the house and play rather than having to follow him around the house the whole time.”
Even with compromising, Alex and Mark achieved a look they love with carefully selected pieces that checked all their aesthetic boxes. “The first thing we bought from MADE.COM was our sofa. It's classic but contemporary. I like that it’s got the classic details like the Chesterfield buttons, but it works in a practical sense. It's just a really comfortable place to curl up with a blanket. I think we just like the MADE designs in general. Especially the block colouring they use - I just love it.”
In complete contrast, the second floor of the house is a peaceful, calming space used solely for unwinding and resting. “Upstairs is really practical and is just for sleeping and getting dressed. We don’t do anything else in those rooms. Our whole lives are lived downstairs. It’s where we work and where we hang out with our son. And upstairs we literally just go up there to sleep.”
Which is a wise choice according to Sleep Advisor Lisa Artis who informed us that “the bedroom should be a sanctuary and be kept as a place for sleep. You shouldn’t be doing work or online shopping in there.”
Accompanying the calming, Nordic style - which creates the perfect atmosphere for a good night's sleep - is a basic human desire that most of us can relate to: "If I have a down duvet and pillow, I feel at home."
Article written by: Carly-Ann Clements
Photography by: Liz Seabrook