A Dutch Designer’s Cozy London Home Feels Like Being in a Happy, Patterned Gift Box
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Name: Ottoline de Vries, Michiel van Soest, and children Caroline (10) and Tom (8)
Location: North London, UK
Size: 1938 square feet
Years lived in: 4 years, renting
Ottoline de Vries founded the London-based Dutch design company (named Ottoline) in 2010, growing it into a prominent purveyor of fabulously patterned homegoods like wallpaper, furniture, lampshades, throw pillows and art. Inspired by architecture, nature, artists, geometry and more, one of the things all her patterns and products have in common is they broadcast a happy energy. And the North London home she shares with her partner and two children is a perky, patterned gallery, showcasing some of the best of her designs.
According to Ottoline’s website, she comes from a long line of artistic women, but ended up in the law profession out of school. You can’t hide this kind of creative talent forever, though, and in her 30s she began to attract attention for her art and furniture designs. Today, fans of bold colors and vibrant patterns can peruse products in her web store, or work with Ottoline on custom designs through her bespoke service.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Colourful and layered
Inspiration: There is so much that inspires me, from antique, decorative arts to modern design. I love all things colourful and shapes with strong contrast. I love nature but it’s even more human creation that intrigues me.
Favourite Element: Most Victorian and Edwardian houses in London have relatively small living rooms. That has become my favourite element in our house. The small size makes the room very cozy, especially because I have decorated it heavily and have put up wallpaper all around. It feels like being in a happy, patterned gift box.
Biggest Challenge: We rent our house and we have to bring the house back to its original state when we will move. It is a true challenge to create a personal atmosphere in a rented house but it’s absolutely possible. Bringing your own furniture, art, books and accessories already makes a huge difference. After two years of renting I thought I was crazy not to add my style while being a textile designer and thinking about beautiful interiors every day. Rental or not, I want to create my own world. Although we probably have to remove all the wallpapers that we have applied when we end our tenancy, it has already been so worth the effort (and investment). Our colourful house makes me happy, every day!
What Friends say: They think I’m brave and they are surprised that so much patterns and layers could work.
Biggest Embarrassment: I make the wrappings for a Dutch chocolate brand called Stach and I have to say they taste and also look very good! All my friends get chocolate for their birthdays. I’m probably the biggest fan of my own chocolate packaging and even have it in my home as decoration. That’s quite embarrassing isn’t it :))))
Proudest DIY: I have decorated two side cabinets with a bespoke wallpaper showing the map of Amsterdam. We took it with us when we moved to London and it reminds me of our time in Amsterdam.
Biggest Indulgence: The biggest indulgence must be the location of our house, backing onto one of the oldest woods in London (Queenswood) with huge, tall trees. From our terrace we overlook a green oasis. Our area is very hilly. That is a bit of a problem if you are Dutch and normally go everywhere by bike but it does give spectacular views from our terrace. We are surrounded by trees and calmness in a city like London!
Best Advice: Follow your heart. Better to try and fail than not try at all. If you reach out, it will always bring you something.
Dream Sources: Everything: Liberty London, Pentreath and Hall, The Conran Shop, Heal’s, Bespoke needlepoint fabric: Hunt and Hope, Cushions: Fine Cell Work, Rugs: Vanderhurd, Cushions: Susan Deliss, Howe London Vintage finds: Atomic Antiques, Lampshades and candles: Matilda Goad, Lampshades: Rosi de Ruig, Tiles: Balineum, and all the museum shops (V&A, Tate Modern, Royal Academy, Design Museum, British Museum etc) Wallpaper and fabrics: My own product range ;)))
Large Tulip canvas — Surface View
Naive painting — Guus van Eck
Sofa — Linteloo
Slipper chair — Antique shop
Keith Fawkes in London/Hampstead/Flask Walk Brushpot (with letter O): Bridie Hall at Pentreath and Hall
Wallpaper — Ottoline
Pillows — Ottoline
Lampshades — Ottoline
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