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Using colour to bring out the character of a Victorian townhouse

Pembroke Victorian Townhouse, Southville

“My new living room is not a ’showpiece’ but a very lovely, comfortable and much-used front room. It’s hard to say what my favourite part is – it’s the whole feeling of the room that I love.”

Anne’s Victorian townhouse in Southville, Bristol had period features-a-plenty, grand proportions and natural light – but it lacked character, spirit and impact. To inject some much-needed soul into the space, Anne chose to focus on the two main entrance rooms on the ground floor: the family room and the living room.

The Brief

Pre-transformation, Anne felt the rooms were “very bland” and “generally lacking in oomph.” Her goal? To redecorate and create an environment she would look forward to spending time in. With her natural tendency leaning towards ‘safe’ colours, Anne also dreamt of achieving something “a little dramatic and bold” while at the same time “calming and comfy.”

Anne had a beautiful portrait of a family member painted by a relative, the artist Henry Gotlib, which she wanted to incorporate into the finished scheme – as well as other art works, books and treasured pieces of furniture.

The Scheme

Anne liked dark, bold colours but had never been brave enough to dip her toe into richer shades before. I created a series of colour scheme boards for Anne to choose from, with hues ranging from the vibrant Orange Aurora to the refreshing Aquamarine (both by Little Greene) and the elegant Hague Blue by Farrow & Ball.

We settled on two shades of blue for the living room walls, one rich Hague Blue and one airy Borrowed Light contrasted with a white mantelpiece to lift the space and make the deep, Hague Blue stand out. Accessories, such as the striped rug and upholstered armchair, picking up colours from the painting above the fireplace, helping to tie the scheme together.

When paired, these two blues create a calming effect, and balance out the bright sunshine which streams in from the south-facing bay window.

In the family room, a hand-painted chest of drawers by a local upcycler, Handsome Vintage, adds an eclectic, organic feel. Whilst the Dining table was made to order by Woodstock in Stokes Croft who matched the colour of the legs to the sofa to tie the space together.

The result is two spaces that are elegant, inviting, serene and cosy.

“As I look through the door into these rooms, I feel pleasure and pride. It is exactly what I wanted but did not know how to achieve on my own. Hannah was just amazing at creating my dream rooms with me – I felt it was a real partnership as she listened so carefully to my thoughts and ideas. She took my muddled vision and made it a reality. Spending time in this space is a joy.”
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