Charlie’s Charming Townhouse

updated Feb 20, 2019
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(Image credit: Rebecca Bond)

Name: Charlie Cosby, creative at Farrow & Ball
Location: Southbourne; Dorset, UK
Size: 860 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years

I was bursting with curiosity to see Charlie’s house — I tracked her down after falling in love with her incredible flamingo-tiled bathroom on Pinterest. I was even more intrigued when I found out that she is a creative at paint company Farrow & Ball and lives only a short drive away from me. I picked out her house straight away by the immaculately painted front door.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Charlie lives on the first floor of a grand Victorian townhouse decorated in serene blues, greens and neutrals. She is passionate about light and color and how playing with them can change your perception of a room. A perfect example of this is the painted dado rail in the dining room, which magically appears to raise the ceiling by a couple of feet.

When Charlie bought this place three years ago it was a wreck. “I found a huge hole in the bedroom wall, the kitchen cabinets were held together with gaffer tape, and there was lumpy grouting round the bath. It was horrendous.” With help from her dad and her friends, Charlie knocked down walls, gutted the kitchen and bathroom, striped over 100 years’ worth of wallpaper off the walls, and then started over, all on a budget of just over $10,000. “I’m pretty tight, so if I can do something myself I will. If I can’t, I learn or ask a friend.”

For seven months, Charlie went to the house every day after work and stayed there until midnight, knocking down walls, sanding, plastering and painting. When it came to decorating, Charlie made good use of her staff discount on paint and wallpaper, and experimented with some brand new colors. Most of her furniture is from junk shops or IKEA, upcycled with a lick of paint. By keeping her costs low Charlie was able to splash out a few choice items, like the striking flamingo mural and the light by British designer Lee Broom. Her hard work and can-do attitude have paid off, and she has created a beautiful, welcoming home.

(Image credit: Rebecca Bond)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I charge around a lot at work, so I need my house to be somewhere I can calm down. I love harmonious colors and clean graphic lines. I get obsessions about things. At the moment I am collecting old tools, scissors, maps and tape measures. I love science and efficiency and designs that are well thought out.

Inspiration: I love the raw end of the trade shows, away from the big commercial parts. You see some really cool ideas. I love visiting old houses like St Giles in Wimborne for ideas. I love the tip, the challenge of finding something good in a pile of junk and the excitement of the discovery.

Favorite Element: The house’s features, the way you have to go up and down stairs to get from one room to another. My favorite object at the moment is my massive green print in the bedroom. I am proud of the spare room. I am always putting my head around the door for a little look.

Biggest Challenge: Prepping everything. I like the destruction stage and the prettying up, but I get bored by the bit in between. I am guilty of rushing ahead and not getting a good finish. I know I shouldn’t, but I do it anyway.

What Friends Say: They feel relaxed and comfortable. There are lots of things that make them smile, like the painted trout in the hall and the flamingo.

Biggest Embarrassment: The light fitting in the living room. It has been there since I moved in. I recently ordered a wicker basket shade, but the measurements were in inches, not cm, and it was so big it wouldn’t fit through the front door.

Proudest DIY: Recovering my $5 sofa. It took forever. I enrolled in an upholstery course when I realized I couldn’t afford to have it done professionally. The tutor told us to bring something small to work on, and I arrived on the first day in my flip flops dragging a sofa. Everyone laughed at me and I felt a bit stupid, but then I just got on with it. They soon got used to me, and a lady on the course donated the material.

Biggest Indulgence: My flamingo mural. I got a discount and it is not the most expensive thing in my flat, but nobody really needs a giant flamingo in their bathroom.

Best Advice: Do the things you love. Display what you love. Paint with the colors you love. It will make you happy!

Dream Sources: If money was no object I would go to France, Denmark and Scandinavia and buy everything there. They have some of the best flea markets in the world.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Resources of Note:


  • Hallway walls: Teresa’s Green
  • Living room walls: Dix Blue
  • Dining room walls: Skimming Stone and Pointing
  • Kitchen walls: Stiffkey Blue
  • Bedroom walls: Wimborne White
  • Guestroom walls: Ammonite
  • Guestroom ceiling: Wevet
  • Bathroom walls, ceiling, door and window frames: Pavilion Blue
  • Bathroom paneling: Dix Blue

All by Farrow & Ball


  • Wallpaper: Bamboo, Farrow & Ball


  • Wallpaper: Lotus, Farrow & Ball
  • Chair: charity shop
  • Cabinet: charity shop
  • Paper flowers: Hattie Newman


  • Yanna sofa:
  • Sofa throw: donated by aunt
  • Leather chairs: hand-me-down from grandmother
  • Cushions: Bluebelle Gray
  • Curtains: Ikea, edged with pompom trim from flea market
  • Fireguard which flips down into a side table: Shepton flea market
  • Cupboard: from the tip, painted in Skylight, Farrow & Ball
  • Mirror: Ikea
  • Spoon drawings: Michael Angove


  • Table: bargain corner in Ikea
  • 1920s filing cabinet: The Crooked Book
  • Old school desk: the tip
  • Ercol sideboard: Gumtree
  • Chairs: All less than $1 from the tip and recovered with vintage fabrics
  • Rug: Anthropologie
  • Curtains: Anthropologie
  • Lampshade: Habitat
  • Ornaments and knick-knacks: flea markets and travels


  • Cabinets and worktop: Ikea
  • Floor: engineered oak
  • White unbevelled metro tiles


  • Bed: donated
  • Wallpaper headboard: DIY using Silvergate wallpaper
  • Bedside units: Painted, stacked pallets
  • Cupboard: Found in a skip, painted in Skimming Stone
  • 1960s dresser painted in Skimming Stone
  • Wardrobes: Ikea
  • Mirror: Ikea
  • Framed 1950s vinyl wallpaper panel: Second Hand Rose in New York
  • Sofa: $5 from the tip. Covered by Charlie with linen from Linen Works
  • Lampshade: Ikea


  • Wood panelled wall: Facings of mismatched planks, Christchurch Timber
  • Light: Lee Broom
  • Bed: Ikea painted in Teresa’s Green
  • Bed linen: Conran Home
  • Wardrobe: flea market, painted in Ammonite and Purbeck Stone
  • Lamb: Antique shop, painted in Dimpse and Wevet
  • Picture: Homemade with flea market frame and scissors


(Image credit: Rebecca Bond)

Thanks, Charlie!

(Images: Rebecca Bond)

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