Name: Tom Foakes and Tom Bowen
Location: Dalston, East London
Size: 700 square feet
Years Lived In: Owned for 16 years
It seems as though we're obsessed with decluttering at the moment. Last year it was all about the KonMari method and this year we're seeing Danish Hygge everywhere. Both of these concepts are about creating a space that is calm, serene, peaceful and free of clutter, which are my first impressions when I stepped into this two bedroom flat in Dalston, London.
Tom Foakes has owned and lived in this flat for 16 years, but only decided to renovate it two years ago. He has certainly incorporated the "less is more" approach, using lots of clever tricks to hide the things that don't necessarily need to be on show. The radiators were painted in the same shades of grey as the walls to make them disappear. The hinged doors along the corridor were turned into sliding doors, to give it a sense of space in a narrow hallway.
Everything has been meticulously planned in this place. As the kitchen and bathroom are opposite each other, Tom chose the same wall and floor tiles to make them look as though they mirror each other. He also spent a long time building a pair of bookshelves using different depths to create an illusion of symmetry in this irregular shaped room.
Being a fan of antiques and a regular at auctions (it's no surprise seeing he's the Head of Heritage at The Museum of the Order of St John in London), Tom has amassed a nice collection of vintage furniture that gives this flat a lot of character. My favorite thing though is the beautiful reclaimed parquet floor. It wasn't easy installing them, Tom tells me. Even though he was given the parquet floorboards for free by his cousin who works in the Architectural Reclamation yard, the cost of labor ended up being the same, if not more than having brand new parquet floor installed. "Every block needed stripping and leveling before sanding and staining," Tom says, "However, the patina of age means that the end result is so much more interesting than something new."
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: My aspiration is understated good taste, but that is constantly compromised by my preference for colour, pattern, and the slightly tacky.
Inspiration: I do like Jonathan Adler very much, and all the things that I see in shops that I can't afford.
Favorite Element: All the storage — not very glamorous, but it makes a huge difference to how we live.
Biggest Challenge: Stopping myself from buying pointless homeware that I don't need. Last purchase — a ceramic greyhound – clearly one of life's essentials…
What Friends Say: Are you always this tidy? (And yes, I am).
Biggest Embarrassment: Many in life, although in terms of interiors, it is all rather meticulously planned and considered.
Proudest DIY: Building the bookcases in the sitting room — they're actually different depths because the room is an irregular shape, although I wanted them to give the appearance of symmetry. I measured every book to check that everything would fit, which does perhaps suggest that I lead a very sad life, although it did mean that I got the result that I wanted.
Biggest Indulgence: The reclaimed parquet floor. Having it installed meant that everything had to go into temporary storage, all the skirting was ripped out, and then re-installed, with all the walls then needing patch plastering. The fitters weren't thrilled either, as every block needed stripping and leveling before sanding and staining. It's very much a First World Problem, but it was rather inconvenient. However, the patina of age means that the end result is so much more interesting than something new.
Best Advice: In a small flat, never underestimate the importance of storage. It's not very exciting, but it does ensure that a sense of space is maintained. Also, do your research and be nice to your builder — good ones are hard to find.
Dream Sources: I love the department store, Liberty, which has really interesting and unique things.
Explore This Style:
Iggy Sofa – Sofa.com
Bergere Chair – Laura Ashley (discontinued)
Hampers — Fortnum & Mason (from Ebay)
Chest of Drawers – Marks & Spencer (discontinued)
Chandeliers – BHS (discontinued)
Dining table & Chairs, Coffee Table, rug, lamps and mirror – all vintage
Pictures – Spitalfields Antiques market, gifts from friends
Bed – Ikea (discontinued)
Bedlinen – Ralph Lauren Home
Armchair – Laura Ashley
Laundry Basket – Habitat
Cushions – Zara Home
Lamps, Chest of Drawers –Aantique
Mirror – Spitalfields Market
Picture Frames - all IKEA