This Colorful London Flat Is an ‘Escape From Daily Work Drudgery’

published Nov 30, 2022

This Colorful London Flat Is an ‘Escape From Daily Work Drudgery’

published Nov 30, 2022
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Name: Sophie Claire
Location: Southwark — London, United Kingdom
Size: 1120 square feet
Type of Home: Duplex-like apartment, single level with mezzanines in each room
Years Lived In: 11 years

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I work in finance in the city of London, so my home is my creative escape from daily work drudgery!” begins Sophie Claire. “Flats in London are often just that: flat… a big box with little boxes inside. But not my flat, and that’s why I love it. I knew as soon as I walked through the door that it was ‘the one’. I know that’s a total cliché but it’s true, and luckily for me the feature I loved most — the unusual layout — and the fact that it was unoccupied with no furniture (you needed imagination to see yourself living there) had put off other potential buyers, so it had been on the market a while with no offers. It was definitely meant to be mine!” Her apartment is 1120 square feet, and while technically a single floor, there are mezzanines in each room, which gave Sophie the opportunity to create two-level bedrooms.

“My day job allows minimal room for creativity, so I see my home as a total escape from that,” she writes. “I know many people enjoy working from home, but I like to go to the office every day, safe in the knowledge that when I return home there will be no work paraphernalia or associations! My favorite thing to do is get into my PJs and curl up on the sofa with a good book or film — yes that probably sounds a bit boring but I worked hard to make the living room cozy and I love that now I get to enjoy it.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: My home is an eclectic mix of anything and everything that I like — I try not to focus on buying things that ‘go together’ but instead invest in items that I love and hope that they don’t totally clash! I really like to see old and new pieces together, vintage and modern, color against muted tones… I think these juxtapositions are what makes a space homely and lived in.

Inspiration: One of my favorite homes right now is @dennisvonnazareth, as I just adore his mix of furniture pieces and clever use of space.

Favorite Element: I have two favorite things: [1] The golden Crittall-style windows, which although very poor at keeping in warmth in winter (they’re originals from the ’80s!) fill the flat with light — not everyone in the building has a whole wall of them, so I feel very lucky. And [2] the mezzanines in each room, which give the flat so much character. I have been able to use them to create different ‘zones’ throughout the space and it feels so much bigger as a result.

Biggest Challenge: My biggest challenge was the bathrooms — both were newly decorated, but just not to my taste, so there was no way I could justify ripping them out and starting again, either from an environmental or financial POV. I scoured the internet for inspiration, and ended up using tile paint and vinyl floor tiles to transform both spaces. I admit it was a bit of a gamble as I didn’t know how well either would hold up, but five years on and both rooms are as fresh as the day I made them over, which I’m SO pleased about.

Proudest DIY: Earlier this year I changed my kitchen tap entirely on my own. The existing tap had started to leak (it was over 10 years old) so it was definitely time for an upgrade. I was really daunted by the task as I’d never done anything like it before but a neighbor kindly lent me a big bag of plumbing tools, so armed with those and some B&Q video tutorials I gave it a go. It was by far the most difficult job I’ve attempted, as it was a small and awkward space where often you couldn’t see what you were doing, but I was so proud of myself when I finished!

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? I’ll let you in on a secret — the cork pinboard in the hallway hides the electrical cupboard! The door in the wall was really unsightly, but a necessity, so I decided to camouflage it! 

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? One of my favorite products is something I had had my eye on for several years, but it was pricey so I promised myself that I would treat myself to it when I had my own home. It is a toaster (!) but not just any toaster… it has a glass side so you can watch your bread and never burn it. It is totally decadent but I just LOVE it, and everybody always comments on it when they go into the kitchen. 

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: Last year I tried out a space-saving wardrobe hack I had seen online, and it was SO helpful I’m going to share it with you too: After you wear something, you put it back into the wardrobe with the hanger facing the other way. At the end of the year you will be shocked at how many hangers have not been reversed! You can then go through these ruthlessly and decide if you will keep, donate, or recycle — I ended up donating three bags to my local charity shop, one bag of smart work gear to a charity that dresses unemployed women for interviews, and two bags to recycling. I knew I wouldn’t even miss them as I hadn’t worn them all year!

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? My best advice is something that I actually find really difficult, but wish I had done when I first moved into my flat: be patient! I was so keen to get cracking on decorating that I made loads of decisions that I totally regretted… furniture that I hated and ended up selling at a loss, walls I painted colors that depressed me (dark gray, anyone?!), and accessories that were really not my style at all. What a waste of time and money! I wish I had been patient, spent more time on Insta and Pinterest working out my actual style, and only committed money and resources when I had better vision. But we live and learn, right?

Resources

PAINT & COLORS

  • Kitchen — B&Q Colors “Muted Rose”, “Blackboard Paint”, Rustoleum “Magnetic Blackboard Paint”
  • Bathrooms — Valspar “Weathered Trellis”
  • Living Room — B&Q Colors “Cancun”
  • Guest bedroom — Valspar “Russian Turquoise”, Dulux “Heather Bloom”
  • Main bedroom — B&Q Colors “Muted Rose”, Dulux “Oxford Blue”
  • Hallway — Dulux “Cappuccino Cream”
  • Snug — Graham and Brown’s “Epoch”

LIVING ROOM

KITCHEN

SNUG

GUEST BEDROOM

MAIN BEDROOM

BATHROOMS

HALLWAY

Thanks Sophie!

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