It’s no small feat to uproot your life and move, with two young children, from Hong Kong to London in the middle of a global pandemic. When she reflects on it, interior designer Alice Crawley doesn’t dwell on the stress, but recalls the excitement of new beginnings. She had already attempted to buy the Victorian terraced house she now lives in with her husband and daughters once before she actually managed it, and ended up with just eight weeks to pack up her rental flat in Hong Kong and move in. She’d only seen it once – on a whirlwind househunting trip to London – and fallen in love.
Until she set up her interior design studio in 2017, Alice ran her own fashion label, Wondaland. ‘I found that when I had children my focus shifted from what I was wearing to my surroundings at home,’ she explains. At the time, she was living in south-east Asia: first in Hong Kong, then Vietnam, and finally Hong Kong again. She started decorating friends’ houses, finding that her traditional English sensibility was something of a new phenomenon in a place where clean lines and minimalism formed the favoured aesthetic.
‘Before this house, I had only ever lived in rentals–maybe 9 different flats in 13 years–so I had always been limited in what I could do decoratively’, she says. In lieu of plastering the walls of these flats with wallpaper or paint, she had filled them with Asian furniture, art and antiques collected over the years, all of which came with her when she moved back to London. ‘I wanted it to feel like home for my daughters, and for them to be surrounded by things that they recognised’.
Structurally, the house needed very little work. All Alice did was close off some doorways to make clearly separated spaces: ‘I have a slight aversion to open plan layouts – they can make townhouses feel a bit smaller, and means there’s no escape from young children’. The main changes were decorative: the space had been painted white throughout, and was crying out for colour.
A self-proclaimed maximalist, Alice was excited by the opportunity. Wanting to create a homely, enveloping feeling in the lower ground floor kitchen and dining space, she painted the walls and cabinets in ‘Pink Ground’ by Farrow & Ball. ‘It is less noticeable the more you use it’, she explains; she also added a run of pink marble as backsplash. A true pop of colour comes in the form of the kitchen island, painted in a custom green. There are nods to her time spent in Asia dotted around – from the large bamboo mirror and dining chairs sourced in Vietnam, to the antique Chinese wallpaper panels from Hong Kong.
Upstairs in the hallway, the walls are painted in the striking red and pink combination of ‘Red Barn’ on the bottom half, and ‘Dried Plaster’ on the top (both by Craig & Rose). ‘This was the hardest decision I had to make,’ admits Alice. ‘It’s much easier to make bold decisions when it’s not your house, but I am so happy I went for it’. The ground floor rooms are dedicated to ‘grown up’ spaces. There were plenty more bold decisions when it came to her office, where walls and joinery are both in custom colours by Rachel Chudley, the curtains are made up in Ottoline Devries’ ‘Improvisation 1’ and a bench seat in Soane’s ‘Jajim stripe’.
Next door, the sitting room is painted in the same yellow as the walls of the study. The colour palate was chosen to work with the Lynn Chadwick painting in the middle of the wall. Alice has layered pattern on the curtains and armchairs, but far from being overwhelming, there’s a joyful synergy between them. ‘There’s so much going on that it’s quite hard for one thing to dominate,’ she says.
The upper two floors house her daughters’ bedroom, the chintz-filled spare bedroom and a bathroom, above which is the master bedroom and bathroom. ‘Keeping the walls in a pinky neutral allows me to use lots of furniture and prints,’ Alice explains. She based the colour scheme around the master bedroom on the ‘Raine’ fabric by her friend Cinny, as she was involved in the process. The furniture here all works harmoniously: bedside tables from Trove and a daybed bought in Hong Kong pick up on the colours in the fabrics.
The ensuite bathroom, Alice says, is the room which sold the house to her. ‘It’s got plenty of light and through the window you can see the greenery bursting from the garden’. Alice decided that instead of putting in a new bathroom, she would install de Gournay’s ‘Amazonia’ wallpaper, one she’d been coveting for years and reminds her of her former tropical surroundings.
The house is fun and ‘not too fussy’, Alice says. ‘I think the key is to accept what your life is and build the space around that’. Though full of beautiful fabrics and prized possessions, with two young girls, Alice can’t be precious. It’s a home, far from where they were three years ago, but a home nonetheless.
The sitting room is painted in a custom paint colour by Rachel Chudley Colour Studio. It was chosen to complement the colours in the central painting by Lynn Chadwick.
source : houseandgarden
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