Bohemian Living in London

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When Cate St. Hill bought this third-floor flat in a 1930s red-brick building about six or seven years ago, the neighborhood of King’s Cross, London was a bit rundown, but since the development of King’s Cross station and St Pancras International, the neighborhood has begun to improve. Central Saint Martins, the renowned art school, has moved to King’s Cross and now Google  has a massive office planned for behind the station. In the years since Cate has called this apartment home, the decor of the space has grown along with her.  Cate has a design background. She studied architecture and worked in a firm for a couple of years before deciding that it wasn’t for her. She is now the staff writer for Blueprint, an architecture, art and design magazine set up in 1983 by Deyan Sudjic (now the director of the Design Museum London), Richard Rogers (who designed the Pompidou Centre in Paris),  and Terence Conran (of the store Habitat, amongst other things).  In addition to her work for Blueprint, Cate also works as a researcher for FAT Architecture, the British architecture firm who are working on the exhibition in the British Pavilion for the Venice Architecture Biennale. When it comes to decorating her own space, Cate prefers to let the space evolve over time with bits and pieces picked up from antique and flea markets over the years or with items bought on travels. She doesn’t like anything to look to staged or styled, avoiding new pieces from catalogs (although she admits to being a sucker for an Ikea bargain). The biggest change in Cate’s decorating style came when just six months ago, her boyfriend Olivier moved in. In a spurt of nesting energy, the couple repainted everywhere, replastered the living room, redid the bathroom and bought new furniture. And Cate has incorporated elements of French style (such as the road sign, which hangs in the kitchen) as a little nod to Olivier’s French roots. Thanks, Olivier and Cate! –Amy

(Ed note: If you’re thinking about making a trip to London in the near future, check out Cate’s tips here.)

Image above: If there was a decorating style I was most influenced by it would probably be Scandinavian. I went on a month-long trip to Scandinavia, spending a week in each country (Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark) and I really like their aesthetic of clean white walls, Modernist mid-twentieth century furniture, lots of light and natural materials. I was really inspired when I visited architect Alvar Aalto’s studio in Helsinki and all the trendy Scandinavian brands popping up at the moment like Muuto, Hay and Ferm Living. The round white table is a Saarinen Tulip table look-a-like bought on eBay for the fraction of the price of a real one, while the two Ercol wooden chairs were found at Ardingly, an antiques market in the southeast of England, for just £15 each. My mum and I love trawling through antique shops and flea markets, we’ve become experts at negotiating good deals! I’m a fan of Mario Testino’s photographs and remember fondly going to his exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London, I would have been about 14 at the time. (The paint is French Grey by Little Greene although it is so light it looks white, I wasn’t daring enough to go for anything darker.)

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Image above: The grey sofa is from trusty old Ikea, but the cushions I found on Etsy from a company in Cornwall called Andshine who makes cushions out of Scandinavian prints. Virginia Woolf is a big inspiration and one of my favourite British authors, the dust jacket was painted by her sister Vanessa Bell and is a reminder of the bohemian Bloomsbury group of artists who lived not too far away from my flat in the early twentieth century. The sausage dog is from Muji, I hope there will be a real one with us in the not so distant future!

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See more of this London home after the jump!

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Image above: The Eames chair was a recent birthday present from Olivier and my first bit of designer furniture, it makes me feel very grown up! The cushion is by Donna Wilson (she also designed the round Owl and the Pussycat cushion in another image), she’s a great Scottish designer who creates cute lambswool cushions and also quirky knitted ‘creatures.’ I love having all my art and architecture books on display, alongside cards from loved ones and a ‘c,’ which my mother found for me on eBay. It’s apparently French.  I also have an unhealthy stash of British Vogue magazines!

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Image above: The paint is Dulux brilliant white.

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Image above: I’m really into colour coding books at the moment, I think it makes more of a feature out of them.

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Image above: The kitchen is from Ikea and has lasted so well, I really would recommend them. The paint is French grey by Little Greene. I love collecting vintage teacups, saucers, jugs and teapots.

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Image above: The French sign is from an antique shop near Devon, we Googled the street name and it is somewhere in the west of France near Brest. I made the pin board myself by painting a standard cork board. There’s a picture of my family dog, Percy, the cocker spaniel in a bowler hat and various cards with dachshunds on them from Olivier.

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Image above: The chair was picked up from the same antique market as the dining chairs for £20, while the mirror is from Ikea. I love putting up postcards randomly on walls, it’s like commitment free art (and very kind on the wallet, too).

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Image above: The wall hanging above the bed is from India. I went on a month-long trip a couple of years ago with my best friend. We found this in a small shop on the winding streets of Jaisalmer near the desert in Rajastan. My boyfriend is a big Maximo Park fan.

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Image above: More colour coordinated bookshelves. The vintage letter trays I found on eBay and are great for sorting out clutter. The Anglepoise lamp was a present from Olivier.

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Image above: Donna Wilson Owl and the Pussycat cushion bought at her recent sample sale. I love Scandinavian design and these String shelves perfectly fit with that look. The lamp was found dusty and neglected at a flea market for a tenner.

  1. Eliza says:

    Love the space, not really getting a boho vibe though. . .

  2. Christina says:

    Loved the note, especially since it’s one of my favorite things as well :)

  3. Katie says:

    Gorgeous home. Love the bedside tables. Also, your dining chairs, but I am biased as I have the same ones ;)

  4. Lorna says:

    So simple yet so stylish.

  5. Casey says:

    Thanks for sharing your bright space, Cate! I’m trained as a landscape architect and have grand plans of getting a dachshund someday, too! 4 out of 5 birthday cards have a doxie on them. :) I love that “c” that your mom found for you!

  6. Debbie says:

    So calm…very nice!

  7. Amy says:

    I love how few furnishings they have. The place doesn’t look bare or cheap. They have just the amount of furniture that they need and it’s all solid, attractive furniture. The art/mementos look (and feel?) carefully chosen and meaningful – nothing seems to be there just to *have*. Looking at their space and reading about Cate’s travels, I get the sense of people who prefer to live rather than to own stuff; but at the same time, Cate’s eye for design comes through very gracefully.

  8. Cate says:

    Thankyou Amy, that’s a huge compliment :)

  9. Dora says:

    Sometimes I feel like 9/10 of the DS houses or apartments feature all-white walls, and an Eames chair. It’s a great look, sure, but I’d love to see some daring new takes.

  10. odile says:

    neither chic nor shabby – so very normal that it is cool would add a piece or two of handmade pottery

  11. Laura says:

    I really love this space. Clean and simple is something I am trying to achieve with my space. Good job!

  12. fiona cooper says:

    Hi Fiona from New Zealand here, love the look. We love the minimalist/white/smart space ideas here to. Nice, clean and simple. Great work. Fiona

  13. Stefanie says:

    I really like the coffee table! Where did you find it?

  14. Agnes says:

    I was also going to ask about the coffee table! Love this look.

  15. Cate says:

    It’s from Habitat!

  16. Zelda says:

    Lovely place, albeit too minimalist and generic for my tastes. I didn’t get a bohemian vibe initially either, but then realised that the title threw me off – rather it’s ‘a’ bohemian living in London and Cate says it’s influenced by her travels through Scandinavia. Nevertheless, thank you for sharing.

  17. Kelsey says:

    Anyone have an idea where that pink/coral rag rug in the living room is from?

  18. Housekeepers says:

    I year ago I moved to London and I finally have this big apartment I was dreaming for. I really love your idea and I consider using it for my place. For 2 and a half months I have been searching for the best disign for it. I think to do most of the docorations myself, including this gorgeous bookshelf you showed – with the books organised by colour!

  19. Emma-Lee says:

    i’ve just arrived in London from Australia – can you recommend any good flea markets?


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