As the self-confessed ‘creative director’ of their Victorian terrace in south-east London, writer Robyn Donaldson (@around.robyn) has filled her home with plenty of character and personality, all designed to be a conversation-starter for visiting friends and family. So, how did the “creative control freak” – her words, not ours – find partnering with our Interior Planning Service to create an office that would encourage restaurateur husband Jamie to work from home more? We caught up with influencer Robyn and Alejandra from IPS at Heal’s to hear about the collaborative project, discover their favourite pieces and learn how the room works for Jamie now.
Robyn, can you tell us about you, your family and your home?
“I’m Robyn, a writer, arts project manager and unmistakably Northern person, living with my restaurateur husband Jamie and our two hysterical dogs in a Victorian terrace in deepest south-east London. We’ve been here for two years and in that time turned what was a 90s’ time capsule into the very best vintage pleasure palace this world has ever known. Well, sort of… we’re almost finished!”
How would you describe your style? And who is in charge of décor?
“My style is vintage, heavily arts-inspired, and swings towards maximalism. We’re talking modern-day Bloomsbury-set vibes. Creativity is at the core. Nothing is mass-produced or low on impact. I mix up original artwork and ceramics with antiques and future heirlooms for a classical look with a contemporary twist. Every single thing in my home has to be a conversation-starter, be that by heritage or design, and I’m very much the creative director in our home while Jamie’s the ops guy.”
Do you have the same taste?
“I think Jamie likes whimsical, fun and theatrical, though less so than me. He’ll be effusive when he likes or hates something but doesn’t get bogged down if something just isn’t his jam.”
What renovation project did you work on with IPS?
“Our study, which is primarily for Jamie, ironically. I wanted somewhere that would entice him to actually work from home. A space that fused function and comfort with visual wonder. It had to work for both me, as a super-mobile freelancer who needs constant stimulation, and Jamie, who can sit in one place for longer than seems humanly possible.”
Can you talk us through your experience of the process and what steps were involved? Was it
“The whole process was wonderful and worked so well for this creative control freak. First, I met the team in-store for a walk-around after e-briefing them on the room we were working with, the dimensions and kind of feel we wanted to achieve. We wandered round the store, looked at furniture and textiles and lovely little finishing touches that might be right, and basically gave the team an idea of things we loved and what we’d like included. They then came back with suggested themes that could be tweaked, and man, did I tweak (before them tweaking back as some of my tweaks were completely ludicrous – I would have had to commando-roll over the giant desk I wanted to get!) before settling on a plan for a fully-formed room to decant into the empty, dusty shell we’d been living with. I’m not kidding when I say the only thing they didn’t help us with is unpacking the boxes when it all arrived.”
What are some of your favourite pieces?
“I love all of the Heal’s pieces in our study but there are a few that have a special place in my heart. The ceramics by Talia Nidam Warshawsky are amazing and something I think are so synonymous with Heal’s as a brand. Having these beautiful, tactile little works of art in my home is just such a treat. And the Remi sideboard is a masterclass in the most premium materials, next-level craftsmanship and furniture you know will be with you for life. Everything in the room is such a feast for the eyes while being functional and made to last – the actual dream.”
Are you happy with the result?
“We’re so thrilled. The room is unmistakably Heal’s. I have always loved the retailer for its focus on makers and the little bits of affordable magic you can pick up alongside the heavy-hitting cornerstones of a room that are always amazing quality. We got the ‘pillars’ of the space – the shelves, the beautiful desk and the sideboard – then injected the pattern via the rugs, blankets and cushions and added arty finishing touches. And we got it all to fit into this small space which is all thanks to the miraculous skill of the people at IPS. They get scale and know how to inject personality, so for someone who is all about the looks but often finds making a workable scheme more difficult, they were the ultimate knowledgeable ears.”
“Erm, want to come back when we do the loft extension?!”
Alejandra, can you tell us about the brief?
“The project was to design the study in an end-of-terrace Victorian home in south-east London. Both Robyn and Jamie work from home and needed a dedicated space with a desk and storage for books and styling. The study connects to the living room via a pair of beautiful reclaimed bi-fold doors. Creating cohesion between the two spaces was an important part of the design brief. Each new piece was carefully selected to ensure it complemented and balanced with the existing living space. The result feels connected and considered, while allowing each room to feel unique and brimming with personality, just like the homeowners.”
How would you describe their taste?
“Robyn’s taste is all about literature, arts, paintings, books and creativity. I would certainly describe her taste as eclectic, where a rich colour palette and pattern live in perfect harmony.”
Can you talk us through the steps of collaborating with clients?
“The first step is an introductory meeting where we get to know our clients, to gain a better understanding of their style preferences, the requirements of the space, timelines and budget. Then we have a look at the pieces in-store to discover which they are drawn to and gather inspiration. Next is creating scaled floorplans on CAD software, to map the space, and moodboards, which allow the client to visualise how the shortlisted selection of items works together as a cohesive design scheme.”
Can you pull out a few key pieces you chose for the scheme?
“Our Remi sideboard is one of the key pieces in this project. Its versatile design makes it suitable for a study, dining room or hallway and provides much-needed storage. Its slatted door-fronts create some interesting texture that contrasts with the deep tones of the marble top. The classic walnut Treviso desk from L.Ercolani paired beautifully with the clean lines of the Adam Wood bookshelf from Kartell.”
How would you describe the result?
“This project packs a punch where the blue walls showcase Robyn’s collection of contemporary artwork. We purposely selected a walnut finish for the furniture to allow the deep rich tones of the wood to provide balance within the design scheme.”
Finally. what would you say to those considering working with IPS on their home?
“We are here to help you! Whether it’s a single room or a full house, we collaborate to bring your home to life. Our Interior Planning Service is ideal since the expert design team offers step-by-step guidance to ensure that your final design scheme is both balanced and harmonious.”
Discover how our Interior Planning Service can help you.
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