Name: Mareka and Anders Stake with their 2-year-old daughter and 6-month-old son
Location: Bethnal Green, East London
Size: 98 square meters
Years lived in: Owned over 5 years
Set in the heart of the hustle and bustle of trendy East London is this Victorian terrace belonging to the Stake family. Mareka, an art director, together with her creative director husband Anders, have carefully designed everything in this beautiful house. There are little details everywhere—from the quirky artwork on the walls, to the beautiful classic pieces of furniture, to the interesting memorabilia they brought back from their travels. The couple have created a wonderful home for themselves and their two adorable children Nara and Kalo.
Mareka and Anders are so good at mixing all kinds of weird and wonderful things together. Art and design clearly play a massive part in their house, but for them it's also about preserving history and memories. Everything in this house has a reason for being there, even the miniature objects on the shelves!
Get the look! → A Bold Victorian Full of Color and Patterns
This house is a masterclass in how to bring up a family surrounded by art and design, rather than having to sacrifice it. Mareka did say though, "I made us a coffee table once out of an old type tray, giving it a glass top and G-clamp legs, but it was a baby-proofing nightmare, so it had to go once the crawling and pulling up began!"
Although the coffee table is in storage for now, I can't think of a more inspiring place for young children to grow up. Who says you'll need to have a million bulky plastic toys in your lounge when you start having babies?
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our style: As two creatives, we are very visual people, so our style tends towards the well-designed, the classic, along with bold shapes, graphic items, pattern and colour, displayed on a muted canvas.
Inspiration: All good art and design is an inspiration to us really, along with the classic period of Mid-Century Modern. It's our day jobs to soak up the world in all its beauty and oddity, and re-fashion that into creativity that makes people feel something. It's definitely inspiring to see our kids looking at the world and making visual connections too.
Favourite element: The open-plan nature of the downstairs layout, which allows the whole family to be in almost the same room together, yet doing different things—cooking, playing on the floor, or with the doors thrown open to the garden outside. We like the feeling of this so much that we are in the planning stages to build out further into our garden, with an architect-designed extension that will create even more fantastic space for us to enjoy life together.
Biggest challenge: Storage space. As a Swede, it frustrates Anders that there's little built-in storage in English houses. We are always on the hunt for interesting things to hide stuff away in, to keep the toys a bit tidied—such as our haberdashery drawers or the Masonic Lodge chest. And darkness is a challenge too—the previous owners took out all the ceiling roses for lights and we haven't got around to sorting that out yet, we just have a lot of side lamps!
What friends say: People do admire it when they come to visit, which is very flattering—mostly the art on the walls and the objects and ephemera we've collected over the years. You referred to it as an Aladdin's Cave, which is a nice compliment! Some people have said the house is cold...perhaps we need to buy some more beautiful throws and blankets.
Biggest Embarrassment: Framed artworks sitting on the landing, yet to be hung on walls, thanks parenthood! Silver duct tape on the floorboards to cover up some raised nails and stick down some cracked concrete...a bit of temporary, DIY baby-proofing that seems to have stuck around a few years… And the slightly over-the-top hotel bathroom, which we inherited at purchase. No-one is ever quite sure if the egg is actually a toilet. We have plans to re-model in future, simplify and rearrange the layout really. And probably make it grey. Yes, we love grey.
Proudest DIY: I made most of the cushions in our house myself —the upcycled old T-shirt patchwork ones on our bed (I take commissions!), and the ones on our sofa made from fabric by (the now sadly disbanded) Tiogruppen design group from Sweden.
Best Advice: Surround yourself with the things you love. Buy things you'll use for decades. Don't be afraid to combine different tastes, styles—a more neutral canvas for your walls makes it all come together somehow. And finally, if you don't use it, get rid of it. We're quite bad at following our own advice though.