Robb and Jamie’s Schoolhouse Flat

published Jun 2, 2014
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(Image credit: Claire Bock)

Name: Jamie Gray and Robb Smigielski
Location: Islington; London, United Kingdom
Size: 2 bedrooms, 988 square feet
Years lived in: 1 1/2 years; rented
Who else lives here: 2 house cats

Jamie and Robb moved to London a year and a half ago, and found the perfect converted schoolhouse with white walls and high ceilings for adding in their own blend of creativity. This flat is a testament to the fact that white walls in a rental don’t have to be bland and boring, as you can see from all of the character that has been brought to this space by Jamie and Robb.

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The entrance to Robb and Jamie’s former schoolhouse building (Image credit: Claire Bock)
(Image credit: Claire Bock)

Robb is a creative director and Jamie is an artist/designer, and their shared love of design and travel is apparent all throughout their flat. Although Jamie describes shipping their American furniture as an extravagance, their personal effects are what make this space. Carefully collected treasures from their travels include the animal side table from Iceland and Dia de Los Muertos sculptures from Mexico. Many of the items in their home have been handcrafted by their parents, including the hand woven cushion on the sofa, which was made by Jamie’s mom, and the wooden bowl in the living room made by her father.

Of course, new items from London are now being integrated into their American West style, such as the taxidermy mouse, a birthday gift to Robb from Jamie. Jamie has been inspired by all of the iconic red in London, such as the buses, post boxes, and phone booths, and has taken more risk with incorporating red into their home. It also could be a subconscious reaction to all of the grey outside. We can’t wait to see how their next space evolves as their travels and work continue.

(Image credit: Claire Bock)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Mid-century modern meets American West in London (with a nod to the odd).

Inspiration: Charles and Ray Eames’ Case Study House. We were lucky to visit it over 15 years ago, and the unabashed mix of modern design, eclectic art objects and souvenirs has inspired us ever since.

Favorite Element: Our various collections, because they act as mementos of places we have been and symbols of dreams to come.

Biggest Challenge: Lack of built-in storage! We were used to ‘American’ closets but we’ve made do and created a semi-permanent fix with extra Expedit shelving units

What Friends Say: It’s spacious and bright, especially for London standards.

Biggest Embarrassment: The carpet! If we didn’t rent, the carpet would be the first to go. Instead we cover the bedroom eyesore with a throw rug and shield the studio carpet with a drop cloth.

Proudest DIY: It’s a rental, in very good condition, so we don’t have much opportunity or incentive to DIY. However, painting the stained grout white was a simple way to refresh the bathroom and the Washi tape headboard can be easily removed when we leave.

Biggest Indulgence: Moving most of our art and furniture with us from the U.S. Setting up our new home with our favorite furniture, books, and bric-a-brac helped ease our transition to a new country and life.

Best Advice: Use the bigger/nicer (aka ‘master’) bedroom as the home office/studio and reserve the smaller/guest room as the main bedroom.

Dream Sources: London is filled with amazing design shops, including: twentytwentyone, SCP, Conran Shop, Future & Found, Skandium, The Darkroom, Folklore, Labour and Wait, and ARIA.

Other Inspiration: Pinterest, Dwell magazine, design blogs, Geffrye Museum, Cabinet of Curiosities, Scandi design, Dia de los Muertos, and California modern.

(Image credit: Claire Bock)

Resources of Note:





  • Caleb Taylor (above dining room table)
  • Aesthetic Apparatus (USA print)
  • Heather Knight (ceramic tiles)
  • Tord Boontje (white paper laser cut out over window)
  • Paintings by Jamie Gray
(Image credit: Claire Bock)

Thanks Jamie and Rob!

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