Name: Claire D.
Location: London, UK
Type of Home: Townhome
Square Feet: 990 square feet (92 m2)
I Live With my husband, Andrew, and my cat, Buffer.
Decorating Style: Modern-eclectic. Contemporary meets bohemian, meets mid-century modern.
I am French, my husband is British and we live in super-cosmopolitan London. Our daily activities are mainly centered around food, so I would say that our life is quintessentially European. A typical day in our household starts when our rescue cat, Buffer, who is a very reliable alarm clock, makes sure we are ready to feed him by 7 am at the absolute latest. After that, we are both getting ready and heading to work in central London. London is a huge city (geographically about 2 times bigger than NYC, I checked!) so our commute is about 40 minutes even though we live in London zone 2/3 (Greater London has up to 9 zones!). Our work days are pretty conventional and we head back home around 6:30 pm. I usually spend a bit of time working online in the evenings, being a digital communications professional means I am on social media and reading online a lot for work.
Because I am French, I don’t do takeaway that much. We cook most of our dinners at home. We also eat out about 2 times a week; the food scene in London is incredible and there are so many places to try! After dinner, we usually binge on some Netflix shows before going to bed around 11 pm. Does Netflix count as a hobby? When we are not watching TV shows, I love blogging, I do Pilates and work on decorating the house. I am also learning to meditate and love it when I succeed doing it (it is so hard!). Outside of the house, we spend most weekends exploring the city. London is so big that it would take a lifetime to see it all!
My favorite thing about my home is having an open plan living-room/dining-room/kitchen. Having that type of loft-like space in London is quite rare and a real luxury. My home is unique because it is up-side-down house, the living space is upstairs and the bedrooms downstairs. It is fairly common in London actually and our previous flat was the same. It makes for great open-plan living!
London is one of the most expensive cities in the world to buy a property, so we had to find the right compromise between the area and the property. We knew Lewisham was up-and-coming and, with our budget, we could afford a three-bedroom house! We visited our current house and the fully open-plan living space was what sold it for us. It is very bright and modern, yet very unique, which is right up our street.
My parents had always very modern tastes, so I never grew up in a traditionally decorated French house. I have also lived abroad a lot and my appetite for travel and art is shared by most of my family members. I grew to love simple modern structures with bold statements inspired by my worldwide adventures and my artsy family. Now, we live in a big city and the house definitely feels cosmopolitan and urban.
I most cherish all of my grandmother’s paintings. If there is a fire in the house, these will be out before me! I also love to collect wall art, that is an obsession which is turning into a problem actually… A couple of gallery walls can be nice and tasteful, too many gallery walls aren’t…
The house was built by a developer so design choices made for the kitchen and the bathrooms were plain, to say the least. A kitchen is an expensive room to redecorate so we had to learn to live with it and inject soul where we could. The bedrooms are also on the small side which was a challenge to fit big beds and wardrobes.
My favorite DIY project is the shelves above our radiators that we built ourselves. We are not really DIY people, yet it was very simple, fast, almost instantly rewarding and custom-made for the house!
Our house is a new build so we didn’t make many drastic changes, however I would say that our guest bedroom made for a dramatic before/after. We went from baby-blue walls, oak furniture and net curtains to sleek, cozy, and bright.
I have a few design tricks! Don’t be afraid of dark wall colours and always go for cool tones. One of the best decision I made was to paint one of our entry hall wall black. It sounds like a scary thing to do, but I knew it worked when most of our guests didn’t even really notice that one of the walls was black. All they could see was a coordinated and balanced space. I also stay away from anything too ‘matchy-matchy’ or too symmetrical.
I have a few contenders for my favorite family traditions. Opening a bottle of wine on Friday evenings after a long week at work. Eating my husband’s delicious scrambled eggs on weekends mornings and our trips to our local farmer’s market on Saturdays. My favourite seasonal tradition is the day we decorate our Christmas tree! Each year, we buy our tree from a local market, we make some mulled wine, we play cheesy Christmas music, decorate the tree and my husband makes me dance. A little corny, but we love it!
I would describe my lifestyle as a typical thirty-something Londoner. We work, we try new food joints and bars, we go to the pub, wander in the many London parks, sometimes we go to shows or to the movies, and we spend all our savings on vacations in the sun away from the British weather!
London has some of the best food in the world and it shows in our neighbourhood. We have an excellent tapas restaurant, a couple of amazing street food markets, Japanese restaurants, Turkish places, pizzerias, wine and cocktail bars, fried chicken spots, gastro-pubs – I can go on and on. That is the beauty of London! It is so big that each neighbourhood is almost like a little town with its own high street and food scene.
Thank you to Claire for sharing her beautiful home with us! I love how she infused the home with color and art! To see more of her adventures in London, please follow Claire on her blog, claireimaginarium.com, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.