Name: Isabelle Palmer, the Balcony Gardener
Location: Hampstead; London, United Kingdom
Size: 3 bedrooms
Years lived in: 14 years; Owned
Isabelle Palmer has made a career out of small space gardening, and it's not hard to see how her home has inspired her business. Isabelle's flat is a top-floor treasure inside of an old converted church in London's leafy Hampstead neighborhood.
Living in one place for the past 14 years, Isabelle has constantly reinvented the space. The living room paint colors change almost yearly: in their latest incarnation, the walls feature Farrow and Ball's Hague Blue.
Her home also serves as an incubator for ideas for gardening, inside and out. The past year has seen Isabelle hard at work on her latest book, The House Gardener, with her home often used as the location for many of the plants and images featured in the book.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: It constantly evolves, but as a loose rule I mix modern with lots of eclectic vintage pieces which I come across whilst sourcing for the balcony gardener. The flat is quite modern in its fixed fittings, so I find this mix gives it a sense of balance and interest. I also love that there are some very interesting character windows downstairs (as it was an old church), and they really give the flat a talking point.
Inspiration: Color — it always stems from that. My favorite color of the moment defines my style as to what and how I decorate.
Favorite Element: The high ceilings in the living room and my two balconies up high. It’s a wonderful feeling having that sense of space and to look out on the skyline of London. I just feel so lucky to have that view.
Biggest Challenge: My biggest challenge is both a hindrance and a blessing — to have my two balconies up high and being on the third and fourth floor. Unfortunately we have a very temperamental lift, so most of the time it's quite a feat to bring pots, compost and plants up to my apartment.
What Friends Say: That it’s homey and relaxing, and it has evolved over the years from being fitted head to toe with IKEA, which is great when you are starting out. But over the years I would like to think I have imprinted my own style in the space to make it really my own home that reflects my personality.
Biggest Embarrassment: My painting skills and loving dark colours against white — I wouldn’t advise anybody to look too close. There are some very wayward lines!
Proudest DIY: I am most proud of the artwork I’ve painted and have dotted around the house. I suppose it’s not strictly DIY though.
Biggest Indulgence: Furniture — I always push my own budget out. As they are big purchases, I think it’s important to get something that will last in terms of style and your own changing mood.
Best Advice: Take your decorating inspiration from your accessories and features — not your walls or key pieces such as sofas, kitchens and bathrooms. I had my teenage years to experiment with my bedroom’s decor (much to my parents' despair) and learned that whilst wallpaper and stand-out colors are great for impact, a whole room is overkill and you will soon grow tired of it. If in doubt, use white as a rule, and use other avenues to bring in details for color and pattern.
Dream Sources: Pinterest, such a vast amount of styles and ideas. It’s really a source book that is collated from all over the world.
Other Inspiration: London, restaurant décor, magazines, fashion, plants and color. Really anything that catches my eye.
Resources of Note:
PAINT & COLORS
- Farrow and Ball Hague Blue
- Little Green Paint Company
- Antique Shops, bespoke pieces, Howdens
LIGHTING and RUGS
TILE AND STONE
- The Iron Bed Company
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(Image credits: Claire Bock)