Paula & Paul’s Lively London Home and Studio

published Apr 30, 2015
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(Image credit: David Telford)

Name: Paula Benson and Paul West
Location: Islington; London, UK
Years lived in: 8 years; Owned

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We first got a glimpse of Paula and Paul’s flat in their House Call not long after the completion of a project to turn their old bedroom into a great work/life balance studio. Since then the graphic designer couple have been busy attacking another major project on the upper floor. We were very excited to be invited over for a full House Tour to see how the studio has evolved in the last few months and to see how their bright and modern style translated to a truly epic gallery wall in the large living/dining space upstairs.

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Plenty of mid-century Eames hangers, ready for any accessory. (Image credit: David Telford)
(Image credit: David Telford)

In the large studio space, some of the most labor-intensive and smart solutions almost go unnoticed. The old wardrobes in the room were recycled into the new storage cupboards; the extra-long floating display shelf looks like it belongs there but took days and days to complete. The couple are quick to give credit where credit is due however. Realizing that re-imagining such a familiar space is tricky, they wisely decided to get invaluable help and consultation from Tracy Graham Interiors. She brought fresh eyes to the space they had lived in for so long and managed all the trades to create a seamless flow from electrics, to decorating, to carpentry which can so often become a nightmare.

Paula and Paul are already reaping the benefits of the new studio space. Paula was able to parlay the extra time she gained from the improved work/life balance into a new project, launching Film and Furniture, a lovingly curated resource directing you where to find the furniture, homeware, décor and art you spot in your favorite films. While Paul has been able to dedicate more time to developing his art (painting and charcoal drawing landscapes) which are now in demand from his site ( and

Upstairs the redesigned living and dining space shows off an impressive collection of artworks, each one a memory from a time, a place, or friend. The gallery wall to beat all gallery walls has a superb mix of photography, modern art classics, and personal pieces split along an invisible line between intense, almost DayGlo colors and black and white pieces. The black and white section wraps around the room’s top end, completing an exciting visual journey from funky modern to aged vintage.

Not to be outdone by the wall, the furniture in the room is a lovingly collated mix of high end practical pieces like the bookshelf and TV unit, and traditional pieces like the architectural plans chest. Peppered around the whole house are also little nods to the love of cinema, like a Twiggy lamp or those whisky glasses from Blade Runner. Swoon.

(Image credit: David Telford)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Eclectic: A mix of contemporary with vintage, antique and mid-century modern pieces. From shiny white to aged wood. I hate things to look too clinical and styled, but then again we do like clean lines and 90 degree angles – all offset with some ancient peasant farming tool or a twisted branch!

Inspiration: From hotel, restaurants and bars and galleries we visit, from interior magazines, from films, and from travels in general. For example: We stayed at a house in Mexico City a few years ago which was filled with black and white bric-a-brac finds which I loved and influenced the black and white dining room section of our main living room.

Favorite Element: I’ve been a sucker for gallery walls for years, and at last we now have our own – bringing together many cherished pieces of art which have been stored in cupboards and drawers for a while: from mono Anton Corbin and Bob Gruen photographs of Echo and Bunnymen and The Clash respectively, to the multicoloured pop art of Andy Warhol and Peter Blake, through to a Cuban protest posters and original hand-painted Manga film stills from Tokyo. We started at one end in black and white, then swept gradually into more colour at the other.

Biggest Challenge: Creating our main bedroom out of a very small guest room. We made it work by having very little clutter or too many bits; we resolved this by having floor to ceiling cupboards built so that it appears like a wall and doesn’t eat up any space and all the clutter sits behind, plus a storage bed which has a multitude of sins stashed in it. Therefore this room has little visual clutter and feels more spacious than it might. We also had no room for bedside tables to had wall mounted lights added too.

What Friends Say: Mainly ‘wow’ when the see how we’ve transformed our bedroom into a studio looking out onto the garden. But weirdly people seem to also fall in love with our little guest room. “Air BnB” is frequently mentioned!

Biggest Embarrassment: The kitchen. Too small to do much with. (Great garden view though)

Proudest DIY: Planning and hanging the gallery wall.

Biggest Indulgence: The lounge bookshelf. It may look like a few simple white shelves but it’s a high quality custom made Italian piece from a modular system. It’s incredibly sturdy and well made and has to be to sit well as a floating piece holding many heavy books on a plasterboard wall.

Best Advice: Build and layer as you go – I think you can always tell if someone has furnished a room in one go in one shopping spree. Live in it and get to know it first – work out areas you use and areas you don’t, also how the light moves throughout the day. I like to think of interior design as curating – buying and adopting things you love and cherish. Another thing I’ve learned: don’t scrimp on electrics – getting plugs and lights in places you want them is a good investment.

Dream Sources: Architectural Salvage and vintage shops off the beaten track. I’ve found all sorts in charity shops in the middle of nowhere. I tend not to buy vintage pieces in London (Too many “I saw you coming” shop prices) but from travels to Northumberland, Rye, Hastings, Bridport, plus Ebay or Etsy.
For larger contemporary (or contemporary versions of mid century design pieces) like sofas and lighting it would furniture specialists like Arum, Skandium and TwentyTwentyOne.
I also love Modern Shows which brings together lots of mid century furniture dealers under one roof in Dulwich and Haggerston in the UK twice a year.

(Image credit: David Telford)


(Image credit: David Telford)


Bedroom wardrobe and large storage wall unit in Farrow and Ball Elephants Breath (229). Walls and shutters Dulux mixed to match Farrow and Ball Skimming Stone (241).

Guest bedroom wardrobe in Dulux mixed to match Farrow and Ball Strong White (2001) and the walls in F&B Wevet (273).

Studio walls in Dulux White Mist.

Living / dining gallery wall in F&B Purbeck Stone and other walls and woodwork Dulux mixed to match Farrow and Ball Wevet.

Entry in Dulux 40YY65061 (grey).

Woodwork throughout has been painted in F&B Strong White (2001) and all ceilings are white.

(Image credit: David Telford)


  • Carpentry by Dan Frank
  • Hang it All coat racks designed by Eames from Arum.
  • Tiles from Topps Tiles.
(Image credit: David Telford)


  • Wallpaper: Cole & Son, Woods
  • Hovet floor standing mirror from Ikea
  • Lack Floating shelf from Ikea
  • Original art by Butch Anthony from Black Rat Projects
  • Rock and Roll by Julian Morey
(Image credit: David Telford)


  • Dining Table and White leather bench: Arum
  • Wooden Pigeon/Dove cott and tall shop drawer unit: Castle Gibson
  • Glass bottles in wooden crate: A shop specialising in French vintage in Hay on Wye.
  • Edwardian antique sold oak 6 drawer architect’s plans chest (took me 4 years of trawling ebay to find one the right size) = Cuckoo-vintage via Ebay.
  • Shelving unit from Living Space.
  • (Image credit: David Telford)


    • Finlay Double Bed with Storage, Persian Grey from
    • Doble Chair (Graphite Grey and Pistachio) from
    • On bed Zig Zag Small Cushion from Parris Wakefield
    • John Lewis Bogart Wall Lights, White
    • Bed throw: Johnstons of Elgin
    • Interior Design consultancy and project management by Tracy Graham Interiors.
    (Image credit: David Telford)


    • Green and wood units custom made from a modular system from TwentyTwentyOne
    • Original art by Paul West
    • Interior Design consultancy and project management by Tracy Graham Interiors.
    (Image credit: David Telford)


    • Tiles from Surface. Designed by Patricia Urquiola – one of my favourite designers.
    (Image credit: David Telford)


    • All desks, storage units and new wardrobe doors in Bright White.
    • Carpentry by Dan Frank.
    • Motti Sofa Bed, Bunting Grey from
    • White blackout electric blinds from Contoliss
    • BiFold doors by Slimline Glazing
    • Interior Design consultancy and project management by Tracy Graham Interiors.

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    Thanks, Paula and Paul!