Before and After: A Poorly Laid Out Apartment’s Colorful, Clever Reno Is Amazing

published Apr 14, 2023

Before and After: A Poorly Laid Out Apartment’s Colorful, Clever Reno Is Amazing

published Apr 14, 2023
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Name: Justine Guillermou, husband, Paul, and two cats
Location: Bethnal Green — London, United Kingdom
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 1022 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, owned

“My husband and I always wanted to move to London for its creative side. A year ago, we were looking for the perfect place to start our new life. Living abroad, I had done some research beforehand to condense all the visits into one weekend. We had no choice as the following week, access to the UK was restricted,” begins Justine Guillermou, the founder of the design firm Rainbow Shaker. The former aerospace engineer and graduate of The Interior Design Institute specializes in a “playful, offbeat,” and “anti-gloom” design style, all of which is on full display in the incredible renovation of her and her husband’s home, a 1022-square-foot apartment located in an old Victorian-era school.

“We were looking for a building with an old soul and an industrial vibe. When we came across this beautiful Victorian school that was converted into a group of apartments in the 1980s, we immediately felt drawn to it,” Justine writes. “As my husband is very tall (6’4), we were also looking for a property with a high ceiling. I can’t tell you how many flats we visited where he had to crouch during the visit! When we moved into this flat, we were not disappointed and my husband had the space to feel at ease. Bright and airy throughout, the apartment has some wonderful period features including double height ceilings in the main living space, oversized sash windows that generate an abundance of natural light, and Herringbone Parquet flooring.”

Justine will be a contestant on the UK Channel 4’s “The Big Interiors Battle,” premiering on Friday, April 21. Justine and Paul’s colorful home is also now available to rent for film, television, advertisements, and photoshoots.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Several years ago, I created my own interior design company called Rainbow Shaker to fully embrace my eccentric self and offer my playful design style. I love to create visual illusions with paint (geometric shapes) to play with the sensation of space and volume. My colorful creations are also balanced with the use of raw materials like wood, metal… for me, we need a colorful bubble to escape the daily gloom!

In this home, I wanted to bring bright summery colors (blue, orange, pink, yellow, green, and some notes of purple and red) to highlight the beautiful British brick work we spent so much time restoring to its original glory. 

Favorite Element: As a French person, I would say that the kitchen is THE most important space of the house; it’s the heart of a home. In the former space arrangements, the kitchen was located on the mezzanine and the downstairs space was used as a living room. I decided to re-arrange the space and bring the kitchen down, into an open-plan configuration. My husband loves to cook and recently passed his French bakery exam. So I really enjoy watching him cook from the breakfast bar while I’m enjoying a glass of wine. I also love the terracotta and lemon yellow color palette I used to make the space warm.

Other favorite elements include the view from the main bedroom “From my bedroom, I can see a beautiful view of the city skyline.” And the communal roof garden: “On the building’s roof, there is a shared garden and dining area where we can relax and enjoy the weather (between rain showers). It includes a vegetable patch, barbecue area, raised planters, and seating with incredible views of the city skyline.”

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing, cleaning, or organizing tips you have:

  • When rearranging your space, you have to consider yourself living in it on a daily basis and map your general circulation patterns.
  • In my designs I always mix curves with straight lines to create a balance.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with color and paint and do something that makes you happy; you can always correct it.
  • If you’re a bit skeptical about too many bright colors, start with a few accent colors and one or two additional colors in furniture / accessories.



  • Entrance — Dulux “Tangerine Twist”
  • Guest bedroom — Benjamin Moore “Viking Yellow”
  • Bathroom — Dulux “Regal silk”
  • Wallpaper — Lust Home
  • Bathroom — Dulux “Pixie Green”
  • Kitchen / pantry — Benjamin Moore “Viking Yellow,” Dulux “Pixie Green,” and Dulux “Tangerine Twist”
  • Study — Dulux “Silken Sunrise 2”
  • Main bedroom — Victory Colors “Poppy”
  • Ensuite — Victory Colors “Poppy,” Dulux “Party Surprise 2”




  • Unfold Yellow pendant lights — Muuto
  • Stools — Tiptoe
  • Art frame — David Dehainault
  • Merlin mirror — Roche Bobois


  • Wine rack — Upcycle from
  • Trolley — Second-hand 


  • Wicker chairs — Second-hand
  • HAG Capisco Puls saddle chair — Flokk
  • Desk — Bespoke (IKEA + Tiptoe)
  • Pendant light — Somewhere




  • Day bed — IKEA
  • Yellow cushion — Loved again (@mylovedagain)
  • Pendant light — Upcycle from second-hand 


  • Vanity unit — Frame furniture
  • Toilet paper holder — Upcycle from dinosaur plastic figure
  • Towel holder — Bespoke

Thanks Justine!

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