Along with red buses and Big Ben fridge magnets, Victorian terrace houses are one of those things that are everywhere in London – cute, recognisable and characterful.
But as these Albert Square-spec terrace houses are almost identical on the outside, they can also end up being a bit samey on the inside, too.
When it came to renovating her own freshly bought terrace in north-west London, up and coming interior designer Stephanie Barba Mendoza, who cut her teeth as an associate at Martin Brudnizki Design Studio, decided she wanted to shun the en vogue neutrals, whites and woods that are seen in so many London homes and create something more colourful, luxurious and unique.
‘Houses like this can be repetitive, so it’s important to make them your own,’ she says. ‘That’s where the colour comes in and furniture.’
Hailing from Mexico, Stephanie moved into the house with her husband and two children five years ago and wasted no time covering the white walls in the living room with an opulent Blue Gum from Paint and Paper Library, giving the room more richness and depth, with a touch of unobtrusive glamour.
‘It is easy to be scared of colour and play it safe,’ she says. ‘It seems like you will get bored of a colour, whereas with white you will be happy, but I don’t think that is the case – it’s important to be brave.
‘It doesn’t have to be a bright or dark colour, just add warmth, and feel different. It’s an unassuming house so it was important for me to make it different. I like to think I have been a little bit more brave by doing something I really like.’
The trick, she says, is to write down or take a photo the next time you see a colour you like, whether it is in a gallery, a hotel or a friend’s house, and don’t be afraid to apply it in your home.
‘Just do it, you will enjoy it,’ she smiles. ‘Every time you walk in it will bring you happiness. And when it comes to paint you can change it too – it’s not a big financial commitment.’
When it comes to furnishings, Stephanie has trawled antiques markets and curio dealers – as well as a bit of eBay – both at home and abroad, looking for items that will create a relaxed and cosy mood as well as reflect her personality.
‘Whenever I feel something positive from an interior, I ask myself, is it the colour, the lighting, the décor, the furniture? It is good to always collect ideas that will later help create a room that you will love and feel good in.’
As an interior designer she is often working to a strict brief, but at home, she says, she can be more adventurous. ‘It’s bold but it is also a family home, so it’s inviting and not a museum, everyone uses it. It’s user-friendly with a bit of character.
‘I love to find special things and unique pieces, I don’t like to buy on the high streets, rather antiques and treasures that I can place everywhere.
‘Almost everything in the living room is antique, and in places I have reupholstered in modern fabrics. It’s a more ecological approach and old furniture tends to last much longer. Now I have a living space that is calm, stylish and, most importantly, reflects me.’
Stephanie says: ‘It’s a 1970s brass table found on eBay, in the style of Karl Springer.’
Alternative: Belvedere Coffee Table
Buy it for £449 from Atkin and Thyme.
Custom-made leopard print cushion
Alternative: Luxe Leopard Velvet Cushion.
Buy it for £22 from Dunelm.
Stephanie says: ‘It is from the antique shop Le Troi Garcons in London. I bought it because I love low-level lighting, not spotlights, and this has a milky glass so it glows really nicely at night.’
Alternative: Laura Ashley Penelope Pineapple Table Lamp Base.
Buy it for £80 from Next.
Stephanie says: ‘I carried it all the way back on the plane from Sicily.’
Alternative: Pair Of Heads.
Buy them for €550 from Ceramiche Britllantine.
Pink antique sofa
Stephanie says: ‘I had it reupholstered in mohair velvet from George Smith. Mohair is a natural fabric but also very durable.’
Alternative: Rutledge Two Seater Loveseat.
Buy it for £429.99 from Wayfair.
Casey Moore photograph
Stephanie says: ‘It looks like a painting but it’s a photo of the sky in Australia.’
Buy more from Casey Moore.
Flat weave custom-made rug
Stephanie says: ‘I wanted something neutral with a texture – there is a lot going on and needed something to balance it all out.’
Alternative: Stoense Rug, low pile, medium grey.
Buy it for £90 from IKEA.
Blue Gum paint from Paint and Paper Library
Stephanie says: ‘It’s like of sort of blue with a green hint – two of my favourite colours. I wanted a darker colour in here because we use it at night and in the evening. It’s cosy and inviting.’
Buy 2.5l for £54.00 from Paint and Paper Library.
Find out more about Stephanie’s work on her website and Instagram page.
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