Two Sisters Share a Layered Mix of Modern & Vintage in South London
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Name: Faith and Hannah Russell
Location: South London, UK
Size: 1158 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years; Owned
Faith Russell and Hannah Russell aren’t just sisters; they’re roommates, business partners and the co-founders of Layer. What started out first as an Instagram account, then morphed into a popular lifestyle blog, has now evolved into a UK-based online marketplace featuring thousands of vintage and pre-owned furniture items for sale. The house they share in South London shows off their love of mixing layers of color, contrast, modern, vintage and more.
The house was renovated when it was first purchased a couple of years ago. The floor plan opened up to allow for more light and an airy feel, and clean, modern materials replaced dated ones. This neutral foundation allows the revolving collection of vintage and antique furniture and accessories to stand out, while still allowing the home to feel peaceful and serene. The colorful outdoor courtyard area (which was “disused and absent space” when the house was bought) adds a fun bonus room for the sisters to entertain in.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Our style isn’t concerned with “trends.” We love affordable, timeless design pieces. We’re all about mixing things up—old with new—and we champion the idea that homes should celebrate individuality and reflect who you are. We love unexpected contrasts of vintage and modern, neutral tones and bursts of colour sitting happily together to create a lovely lived in” feeling.
Inspiration: We’re lucky because working in the design industry means that we’re inspired everyday by the interior designers, bloggers, celebrities and fashion designers we interview for the blog as well as by the traders who use Layer to showcase their wonderful pieces. Our love of fusing the old and the new was born out of visiting antiques markets and discovering one-off vintage gems in amongst the chaos.
Favorite Element: We are pretty proud of the quirky courtyard area because it’s been totally transformed from a disused and absent space. We made it very white and open and added an outside sofa to lounge about in the summer. It’s given us an extra room and an ideal space for socialising with friends.
Biggest Challenge: We always knew we wanted an open plan living area to allow in as much light as possible, but working with a fairly small space was a challenge as we had to make sure it was “zoned” correctly. We had to be very thoughtful with our layout.
What Friends Say: Our friends think we are obsessed with pineapples as decorative pieces, which is true!
Biggest Embarrassment: Initially, we toyed with the idea of having hard floors in the bedroom but decided against it as were opting for a more cosy feel upstairs. This was probably a bad decision as sadly there are now signs of make-up usage that we can’t get rid of!
Proudest DIY: Hannah “built” the outside sofa which was a flat-pack from Germany and involved lots of dodgy Google Translate results for interpreting the instructions. Other than that, the extent of our DIY knowledge is hanging our wall of mirrors straight!
Biggest Indulgence: We often find ourselves buying pieces on Layer that aren’t always practical; we can’t help it when we fall in love with something! Having said that, buying pieces is now much more affordable and accessible. There’s always a bargain to be had.
Best Advice: Look out for pieces that speak to you on a personal level. It might simply be the colours in a painting or the shape of a chair leg—price or provenance have no bearing if you love something. Our homes are our decorative autobiography, so only buy the pieces that you connect with. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be “current” or in keeping with a trend. As fashion designer Pearl Lowe said to us during a recent interview: “Only buy pieces that you can’t live without—live empty until you find the right thing.”
Dream Sources: Apart from shamelessly plugging Layer, we adore Anthropologie for divine inspiration, our local flea market when we can get up early enough and West Elm for a perfect example of affordable new design.
PAINT & COLORS
- Kitchen: Farrow and Ball’s Pavillion Grey / Farrow and Ball’s Blackened
- Bedrooms: Farrow and Ball’s Shaded White
- Hallway: Farrow and Ball’s Slipper Satin
- Gallery of mirrors: Layer and inherited pieces
- Console table: Kempton Antiques Market
- Floor: Topps Tiles
- Sideboard: Layer
- Sofa: John Lewis
- Cushions: West Elm and Skandivis
- Mid-century drinks trolley: Kempton antiques market
- French kitchen table: Family heirloom
- Mid-century chair: Florrie and Bill
- Indian print: Petersham Nurseries
- Succulent: Homebase
- Mirror: Pretty find from a French brocante
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