These British Candlemakers Transformed Their Victorian into Modern Gothic with a Botanical Twist

published Oct 31, 2022

These British Candlemakers Transformed Their Victorian into Modern Gothic with a Botanical Twist

published Oct 31, 2022
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Bedrooms
Square feet
926
Sq ft
926
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Name: Ky Ismet, James Burrow, and Ezra (our dog who is a Puggle)
Location: South Norwood — London, United Kingdom
Type of Home: Victorian Terraced House
Size: 926 square feet
Years lived in: 6 years, owned

“We were desperate to find a period property with plenty of original features like traditional bay windows, stained glass and high ceilings,” explain Ky Ismet and James Burrow, who are the founders of A House Like This, an aromatherapy and candle company. “We’ve always had a thing for Victorian and gothic style and found the property online when we were looking for our first London-based property to develop back in the summer of 2016.”

James and Ky continue: “We checked out the area (and the house), and for the asking price knew we’d found a steal, given it would have only got us a one-bedroom flat in Shoreditch where we were renting before. We had a tight deadline to move in, and we were able to get everything lined up in time to complete by December 2016.”

“When not working, which is mostly home-based, we spend most of our time keeping Ezra entertained, styling up our spaces, and creating products and content for our candle and aromatherapy business, A House Like This. All of our products are designed and made in small batches from our kitchen where we have a massive wax melting machine (which is also why you never see the kitchen on Instagram!).” 

“We have a huge passion for mindful living and have tried to restore our home in a conscious way by choosing items that last and working with what we have to put our stamp on it,” the couple explains. “We choose timeless pieces of furniture that are usually pre-loved and partner with brands we genuinely care about. When we’re not busy renovating or restyling our home, you’ll often find Ky writing and producing music or mixing up new concoctions, whereas James is an avid gardener and definitely the adventurous cook of the house.” 

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Modern Gothic with a botanical boho twist.

Inspiration: We take a lot of inspiration from New England style and gothic, dark interior style. Our home signature look is also reflected in our brand, classic and monochrome with natural elements to add warmth and texture. 

Favorite Element: Our garden is the show-stopper. James designed the pergola from an article we’d seen on the Atlantic Byron Bay Hotel and we wanted to create a space that felt exotic and offered a sense of escapism. Many of the plants in our garden were chosen for their well-being properties, the living wall is an incredible selection of mood-boosting plants that are often featured as fragrance notes in our scent library. 

Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge to date was designing and landscaping our garden due to the invasive Japanese Knotweed on a neighboring property. Many of the local residents couldn’t be bothered about resolving the issue, and we found that the local council wasn’t much use, either. We took matters into our own hands and paid for a specialist to treat the issue over the course of a few years. Once things were under control, we were able to bring our garden design to life, and it’s arguably the best part of our renovation to date. 

Proudest DIY: The living wall is definitely the first that comes to mind! It wasn’t that hard to assemble and install but testing out the right plants to thrive in the living wall was a lot of trial and error. 

Our cheap solution for revamping the kitchen before we properly renovate it using vinyl worktop covers and “Railings” cupboard paint on the existing cupboards we inherited. It’s still not the prettiest of spaces, but we removed some cupboard doors to create an exposed shelf that we like!

Whilst not strictly DIY, as we got help from a carpenter, we completely ripped out the original and very steep Victorian staircase and redesigned it to have ample storage and more interesting design. It’s a lovely feature in our living room and makes a statement, but is also practical!

Similarly, building the sink basin in the bathroom into the original chimney stack meant that we got to keep an original feature but make it useful in the context of the space.

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? The kitchen becomes a candle-making studio when we create our products, and the bedrooms are our offices by day. The garden was designed to feel like a luxury holiday spa retreat, complete with a hot tub! 

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? So many items we love! We love finding beautiful items that are secondhand and have many vintage items in our home. We like to mix old with new and create a modern yet classic style as a result. 

We love the genius self-watering plant boxes for the living wall, which was our favorite DIY project even though quite simple to achieve. The choosing and design of the plants was challenging. 

We love our Danetti love seats in the garden, and it’s a good example of how we designed the space to be multi-functional around a piece of furniture. The chairs are two singular sofas that have an accompanying table, which you can top with plush seat covers to turn them into daybeds for sun lounging, and we designed them to perfectly tuck away in the spaces around our planters.

Smaller items with a lovely design aethetic :

  • Aarke Water Carbonator is beautifully designed
  • Bamboo armchair in the living room, also known as Ezra’s bed
  • The Vega Dining table set from Barker & Stonehouse is a beautiful mid-century industrial piece that gets better with time as it weathers.

What are your favorite places to shop for home décor that can only be found in your country? We love the local Crystal Palace interiors store DECORUM. It actually feels like coming home just walking in the shop, and we were so pleased to bring them on as a stockist for our products. We love shopping at smaller independent retailers that are carefully curated. Other favorites include Abigail Ahern, Rockett St. George, RAFT, and Mrs. Robinson.  

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Our rules for the spaces in our home are to achieve a look that feels bold, botanical, and bohemian. To make a space feel grounded and inspired by nature we infuse natural textures and tones and a variety of botanicals and plants, which pop beautifully against the backdrop of a dark wall, which is the bold element. The bohemian aspect draws on our love of the arts and our personal creativity. We don’t tend to jump on every interior trend (no cane webbing in this house!) but instead invite those that actually feel like an extension of our style that meet our three Bs. 

If you have a loft, storage, or attic space, really ask yourself why you’re putting stuff away and do a good purge every so often. It’s a good way to pass on items you no longer need, is sustainable, and helps you declutter and refresh your home affordably.

Make eco-conscious decisions with your renovation, even think about the time of year when you’re thinking about a big upheaval as it’ll help save money. Try to restore what you can so your home doesn’t lose its original character. You can still retain elements of the era of the home, should you wish, through the decor choices you make. 

We hate the look of a television in a room (and it being the focal point) so we deliberately placed ours on an alcove in the living room and painted the walls dark so it blends in and doesn’t feel like your eyes are drawn to it. Instead the eye is drawn up by impactful artwork, styled shelves placed high up, and our neon lighting. 

Finally, we’d be foolish not to mention fragrance here. Fragrance elevates the design of a space and makes a room feel multi-sensory. You should layer scent throughout the home and choose fragrances that both draw on your interior style and boost your sense of wellness. 

Resources

PAINT & COLORS

  • Living Room — Farrow & Ball “Railings” and “Old White” on walls and ceilings
  • Kitchen — Farrow & Ball “Railings” 
  • Garden — Cuprinol “Black Ash” on the fences
  • Primary Bedroom — Farrow & Ball “Downpipe” and “Ammonite” and “Old White” on walls and ceiling
  • Bathroom — Home of Colour “Black Magic” and “Brilliant White” on walls and ceiling
  • Front of House — COAT Paints “Record Store” and “Mindful”

LIVING ROOM

  • Blue Velvet Sofa — MADE
  • STRANDMON Green Velvet Armchair — IKEA
  • Glass and Bronze Coffee Table — Unknown, bought secondhand
  • Vega Dining Table, Chairs & Bench  — ​Barker & Stonehouse
  • Schroeder Crystal Chandelier — Wayfair.co.uk 
  • BAROMETER Gold Lamp — IKEA
  • Textured Cushions — DECORUM
  • Bamboo Chair — Etsy
  • Shutters — Hillarys Blinds
  • Home Fragrance — AHLT
  • The Mound 11 Print — Ruben Ireland, Society6

DINING ROOM

  • Custom “Midnight Margaritas” Neon Sign — AOOS Neon
  • Antique Grandfather Clock — British Heart Foundation 
  • Taxidermy Stag — Spitalfields Taxidermy
  • Schroeder Crystal Chandelier — Wayfair.co.uk 
  • Vintage Bureau — British Heart Foundation 
  • Home Fragrance — AHLT

GARDEN

  • Danetti — Love Seat Sofas
  • Growing Revolution Plant Boxes — System for Living Wall
  • Shed — Tiger Sheds
  • Outdoor Rug — Wayfair
  • Cushions and throws — H&M Home
  • Sphere Concrete Citronella Burner — DECORUM 
  • Dining Table — Habitat
  • Bamboo chairs — Unknown
  • Lay-z-spa Hot Tub — Lay-z-Spa

BEDROOM

  • Emily Bed Frame — Time4Sleep
  • Premium Mattress — Emma Sleep
  • Stag Bedside Tables — Second hand 
  • Shutters — Hillarys Blinds
  • Wall Hanging — French Connection
  • Pewter Mirror — RAFT Furniture
  • Saigon Lamp — Abigail ahern
  • Rattan Candle Holders — H&M Home
  • Cast Iron Radiator — Trade Radiators
  • Home Fragrance — AHLT

BATHROOM

  • Crittal Shower Screen — Aston Matthews Bathrooms
  • Claw Footed Bath — Bathstore
  • Sink — Drench
  • Taps — Downtown Abbey Collection Victorian Plumbing
  • Swivel Mirror — Rockett St George
  • Round Mirror — DECORUM
  • Basin Mirror and Shelf — DECORUM
  • Home Fragrance — AHLT

Thanks Ky and James!

This tour’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity. 
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