A South London Flat Is Fabulously Fearless

updated Apr 30, 2019

A South London Flat Is Fabulously Fearless

updated Apr 30, 2019
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Name: Claire Swindale
Location: Blackheath — Southeast London
Size: 1,500 square feet
Years lived in: 15 years, owned

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Claire Swindale is fearless. She spent eight years seeing the world (with a prolonged stint in Nepal) where she trekked around Mount Everest and explored the countryside from the back of a truck. When she eventually chose to settle down and scoop up a flat in a beautiful Victorian home in Southeast London’s Blackheath neighborhood, her sense of adventure informed her approach to decor. Her creativity is untethered here, with countless colorful works of art, souvenirs, and family heirlooms all buoyed by her love affair with wallpaper.

The unabashed pink that papers her living room is from Vivienne Westwood, but Claire also designs her own wallpaper, featuring her photographs of London icons, from the park bench and the pigeon, to the Queen’s crown and the British culinary classic, fish and chips. Her design subjects are symbolic and simple, while she takes more liberties with mixing and matching imagery in her own space, where there’s always room for transformation. “I can’t sit still — I always have to be doing some project or another. I always have a sketch, and I always have a list of ideas.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Mine. It evolves over time. Someone said to me the other day, “Oh, your space has evolved, Swindale-style!”

Inspiration: Experiences and people.

Favorite Element: The stenciled and sprayed painting of Frida Kahlo by London based muralist and illustrator Stephanie Thieu.

Biggest Challenge: Lighting the hallway.

What Friends Say: “Wow, I wish…”

Biggest Embarrassment: My bedroom.

Proudest DIY: I’m not particularly “proud” of it, though I did enjoy buying the dining room chairs at auction, and more so creating the fabric at Thameside Print Studio in Woolwich, from one of my images from my Mumbai Montage piece.

Biggest Indulgence: Vivienne Westwood wallpaper

Best Advice: Decorate for yourself!

Dream Sources: Vivienne Westwood, Osborne & Little, Ben Oakley Gallery


B&Q lilac on radiator – digitally processed to match wallpaper in lounge
B&Q gold – in kitchen diner
Farrow and Ball – on kitchen radiator

Blue velvet sofa — Sofa.com
Cushions — From travels to Turkey and Claire Swindale
Gray cable knit rug — Habitat
Woven rugs — Bulgaria, Morocco
Chaise — Norris and Son, Blackheath
Art — Mark Melvin, Ben Oakley, Rowan Newton, Ray Richardson, Rugman, Yvonne Wayling
Side tables — Thrifted
Table lamp — TK Max
TV stand — Made.com
Wicker coffee table — From childhood
White wire table lamp — DIY
Desk — Gift
Marionettes — Brought back from India

Wallpaper — Sanderson Wallpaper, Swallows via Angela McNeill Interiors
Dining table — Ikea
Chairs — Greenwich Auction House
Overhead light — Ikea
Mirrors — From an art cafe in Deptford, South London

Headboard — DIY using red silk from Nepal
Linen Basket — Ikea
Ceiling light — Morocco

Welsh Slate tiles
Sink — Bathstore
Floor — The Colour Flooring Company
Radiator — WC ONE
Mirrors — Ikea
Vase — Paul Costelloe for Wedgwood

Thanks, Claire!

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