Emily & Stef’s Creative, Colorful London Home

published Mar 30, 2015
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(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

Name: Emily Quinton and Stef
Location: East Dulwich; London, United Kingdom
Size: 1,500 square feet
Years lived in: 6 months; Rented

Create something every day,” reads the brightly-colored motto that adorns the living room wall of the vibrant, inspiring family home of writer, photographer and maker Emily Quinton, her technologist and artist husband Stef Lewandowski, and their four young children. As creative professionals, Emily and Stef have brought creativity into the heart of their home and family life, too: “We try to create a home that is full of creativity, soul and love.”

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The display of family photos in the entrance hall is the perfect introduction to this delightful home. (Image credit: Cathy Pyle)
(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

Emily and Stef’s dream is to one day build their own house, but in the meantime they are renting this Victorian five-bedroomed house in London’s east Dulwich. The couple have lived here for only six months, and although they feel the limitations of living in a house that is not theirs — with its existing wall colors and room layouts — they’ve put heart and soul into making it feel very much their own. They’ve brought their own furniture, a mix of modern and vintage midcentury pieces, much of it customised with chalk paint and hand-drawn illustrations. The ever-changing displays of flowers, photographs, original drawings and graphic illustrations bring a playful, eclectic vibe to the decoration. There’s no doubt that this is a truly individual, handmade and happy home.

Downstairs, the hallway leads to the main living area, an open-plan room with a seating area at the front and a “creating” area with a desk, computer and child-sized table at the back. Beyond, there’s a spacious eat-in kitchen which looks out over the back garden. At the centre of the kitchen is the large, extending dining table that Emily and Stef have invested in; it’s the perfect spot for the family to gather together, with plenty of space for extra chairs when they have guests.

Upstairs, the children’s bedrooms are beautifully arranged, with bunk beds and a bed tucked under the eaves in the three older children’s shared attic room, and a sweet nursery for the youngest; there’s light and airy master bedroom with lovely yellow accents and a cobalt blue sofa; and a playroom filled with books and toys for the children, which doubles as a guest bedroom. The fifth bedroom is used as a study and creative space for all the family — there are two desks, a table, and shelves filled with pens, paints, papers, books and more — all the tools and inspiration for this family’s creativity.

Emily runs photography workshops from her south London studio, as well as occasional weekend workshops in East Sussex. Her first book, Maker Spaces, featuring the beautiful and inspiring homes and studios of thirteen well-known makers and designers from Europe and the US, comes out in April. You can pre-order your copy here.

(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Colourful, eclectic, handmade, creative, playful

Inspiration: Pinterest is a huge source of inspiration for me — it’s where I gather together all the things I like; magazines are a big source of seasonal decorating ideas for displays around the house; and Stef and I are both inspired by all the places we’ve visited.

Favorite Element: All of the things we’ve made that make our home so personal – pictures, photographs, textiles, and painted furniture.

Biggest Challenge: Renting! It really limits what we can do in our home, living with the colours, the space and the light that are here – there is so much we’d love to change.

What Friends Say: They say it’s a place of creativity and that our home has a strong sense of family, embracing the children’s part in it. We don’t hide the children’s place in our home but love to have their things around, and that makes me feel good.

Biggest Embarrassment: The unpredictable mess that comes with having four children. There’s always chaos somewhere or other at any given moment!

Proudest DIY: The monster cupboard (which was decorated by Stef during the photo shoot!)

Biggest Indulgence: The extending dining table, which extends to seat twelve, and which will be in our family for a very long time.

Best Advice: Create your space from within your heart, and you will create a happy home; be inspired by design trends but don’t be led by them.

Dream Sources: West Elm for the practical items (like the magnetic bin and dustpan & brush) and Anthropologie for the pretty things.

(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

Resources of Note:


  • Soft toys and owl cushion – Donna Wilson
  • Sofa – Habitat
  • G-plan bookcase – Rigby and Mac
  • Coffe table and white book case – John Lewis
  • Rug – Habitat
  • Rose garland lights – Cox & Cox
  • Floor light – Graham and Green
  • Plant pots and vases – The Fresh Flower Company
  • Multi-colour drawers – Oliver Bonas
  • House shelves – Achica
  • Animals inside the house shelves – Mollie Meg
  • Number drawers and monster cupboard – charity shop finds, painted by Emily and Stef




  • Towels & bathmat – Orla Kiely from John Lewis



  • Shelves – IKEA and John Lewis
  • Coffee table – Habitat
  • Pink rug – Oliver Bonas
  • Magazine rack – Cox & Cox
  • Small drawers – Muji
  • Fairy lights – Cox & Cox
  • Heart print – Seventy Tree
  • Flower poster print – Dot & Fox



(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

Thanks, Emily and Stef!

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