Capital style

By Amanda Linnell

Examples of New London Style. Photo / Supplied
Examples of New London Style. Photo / Supplied

You can't beat London for its innovative style. Its energy. Its diversity. This is why London is home to some of the world's greatest artists, fashion stylists and designers - all people who also help to build the city's reputation for the quirky and the unique. New London Style is an inspiring book which takes you inside the homes of 28 leading creative Londoners, homes which celebrate the desire to create something original, homes that aren't afraid to express the owners' individuality.

We live in a world where too many people slavishly follow design trends only to end up with impersonal environments that might look chic in an interiors magazine but lack in personality or warmth. As this book shows, it's all about being brave when it comes to expressing yourself, it's about following your heart, not rules. As author Chloe Grimshaw so rightly puts it, "Just as London girls shun the head-to-toe designer look, preferring instead to pair a Primark dress with a Marni handbag, the same approach applies to their homes".

In the book we visit the home of leading fashion designer Matthew Williamson, whose neighbours in Primrose Hill include actress Thandie Newton, Vogue editor Alexander Shulman and rock-chick-turned-designer Jade Jagger.

His home draws on his passion for embroidery and textiles and reflects his love for colour with an eclectic mix of neon artworks, a tapestry couch (which features on the cover of the book) and a courtyard full of candles and lanterns.

The home of Sam Robinson, owner of the uber-chic and influential The Cross boutique in Notting Hill, reflects her eye for bold colours and unusual details. In her living room, Gerald Laing's cult series "Bikini Girls" - which Sam found in a junk shop - hangs on the walls; Peace, Love and Union Jack cushions are piled on the comfy couch, and a round resin lamp is balanced on a pouf on the floor. The use of different tones of red works to tie everything in the room together, creating a warm, welcoming haven. In the kitchen-cum-dining room, floorboards are painted white to give a clean feel, a red kilim rug continues the warm theme throughout the house and books and paintings add another level of intimacy to the room.

From NW1 to SW9, E1 to Wll, New London Style takes the reader on a visual tour visiting everything from luxury flats to old garages and churches which have been transformed into stylish living accommodation.

One such place is the home of interiors stylish Emily Chalmers. A former mini-cab office, it has been resurrected as an airy, light-filled space tucked between the City and Spitalfields Market.

A collector of vintage furniture and objects, Chalmers has cleverly divided the massive space into living areas by using generous drops of fabric and bold furniture that work to make a big impact. Two large sofas define the living area, where a giant poster leans against the wall alongside a round mirror found at Brixton Market. A favourite vintage dress hangs on the wall next to an artwork that describes the owner's favourite things.

In NW3 we visit the red-brick Edwardian home of fashion stylist Jo Berryman, which had extensive work done internally to transform it into the elegant and spacious home it is today.

In the sitting room, a bold Damien Hirst skull print hangs hangs above the fireplace. In the elegant dressing room/bathroom, an African-inspired rug by Diana von Furstenberg provides a graphic focus, while in a second sitting room, the humorous needlepoint artwork "Jubilee" by Lucinda Chambers hangs above a velvet-covered Chesterfield couch. It is a room that embraces all things British but a clever twist.

Other highlights include the Camberwell home of supermodel Erin O'Connor with its teacup-print wallpaper, floral sofa and antique cases full of butterflies. Or the funky space of DJ Rob da Bank - the man who played at at Glastonbury, is responsible for Sunday Best in Ibiza, and is the organiser of Bestival on the Isle of Wight. He and partner Josie mix bedcovers from Jaipur with French antiques.

There's the coolly minimalist interior of Carol Conrad, who worked with architect David Chipperfield to transform a 1960s apartment on the world's most expensive street, and the Arts and Crafts Chapel which is now the home of interior designer Peggy Prendeville.

If you're looking to break out from the safe side of interior design, New London Style is your ticket to free expression. Be inspired.

* New London Style is written by Chloe Grimshaw with photographs by Ingrid Rasmussen. It is published by Thames & Hudson and retails for $45.

- NZ Herald

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