Interiorssneak peeks

A New-Build London Flat with Aged Charm

by Lauren Chorpening Day

This London flat has been almost two decades in the making for Katy Orme. Since she was a little girl, decorating, designing and redesigning rooms has been a passion that has shaped her. From sponge-painting her childhood bedroom at age 11 (and redecorating each year after) to refinishing the family’s living room floors as a teenager, Katy has a love for making spaces come alive and has turned that love into her career. Now as a freelance interior stylist and blogger, she gets to be surrounded by projects, images and spaces that she is inspired by every day.

When Katy was loft-hunting in Bermondsey, a district in south London, she knew that apartments in historic buildings would be out of the question because of the price. She found a new-build in her budget and immediately saw potential to give it an edge. “I knew this flat was the one because of the floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room and bedroom, so the light floods in and it has brilliant views across London, as I’m up on the sixth floor,” Katy says. “My main decorating goal was to add character to what is essentially a white, soulless box. There are no period or quirky architectural features, so I had to try to add as much style as possible. I didn’t want to lose any of the white walls as I love the brightness and flexibility of the space, so I tried to layer up character and color by using furniture, textiles, books, plants and artwork.” Katy’s eye for balancing color with white space and seamlessly incorporating pieces from various eras has been in practice since she was a girl, and her talent for layering a room is unmistakeable.

Katy met her now fiancé, Jules Copeland, just a week after moving in and when he moved in a year later, Katy got to transform the space again to suit both of them. “I consciously decided not to buy anything new until I had lived there for a few weeks and had a better understanding of how I was going to use the space, what the light was like, what I needed,” Katy says. “Very gradually over the next year I bought new pieces of furniture and made it all pretty perfect. Then Jules moved in and everything got turned upside down. I had to rearrange the whole flat to fit it all in.” Her time arranging, rearranging and DIYing over the years has served her well. Katy’s new-build flat is vibrant, beautiful and full of character. —Lauren

Photography by Katharine Peachey


Striped sofa – Sofa Workshop
Cushions – Abigail Borg
Teal loveseat – Habitat
Kilim rug – Etsy
Trunk coffee table – my mother’s school trunk
Green glass vase – belonged to my grandmother
G-Plan sideboard – eBay
Terrarium – found in my parents’ garden
yellow lamp – John Lewis
Dining table – French brocante
Ercol chairs – my parents’ neighbor gave them to me to take to my university house. I nearly left them there when I came back to London!
Mirror – Antiques shop on Camden passage.
Small antique bureau – present from my parents for my 7th birhday
Letter press drawer mounted on wall – Antique shop

Blue shelf – antiques market
Stool – came from a science lab at the school I taught in as they were throwing them all out!

Desk – Made MDF tops and used IKEA trestle legs
White desk chair – Out There Interiors
Black desk chair – Herman Miller
Pegboard – Amazon
Sideboard – bought from eBay and I painted it and lined it with Mini Moderns wallpaper
String Shelving – Haus
Pendant light – eBay
Blue table lamp – Loaf
Large anglepoise – Dwell
Do Re Mi print – Double Merrick

Bed – Coco bed from Loaf
Linen – Loaf
Bedside table – Victorian washstand from eBay
Glazed pink vase – House Doctor
Round mirror above bedside table – belonged to my grandmother
Lamp – Houseology
Gold framed painting – used to hang in my parents’ bedroom
Old pine drawers – eBay
Tall ceramic jug – House Doctor
Nude pink vase – Bloomingville
Mirror on drawers – used to hang in my parents’ wine bar
Wardrobes – eBay and I painted them
Floral chair – belonged to my grandmother and it’s covered in 1950s Sanderson fabric
Curtains – John Lewis
Jute rug – Heal’s
Bloomingville brass hanging planter – Out There Interiors

Table – an old school desk
Atomic hooks – eBay
Yellow cushion on chair – Orla Kiely

A New-Build London Flat with Aged Charm | Design*Sponge
The giant windows are what grabbed Katy's attention. Her layered furniture and pieces give the space such a warm, cohesive look that it's easy to miss that the space is architecturally modern without much character.
A New-Build London Flat with Aged Charm | Design*Sponge
"Most of the pieces in my home have a story behind them that makes it feel more special and personal. I have used quite a few antique pieces handed down from my grandparents and parents," says Katy. "I’m also very good at wasting enormous amounts of time searching for vintage stuff on eBay."
A New-Build London Flat with Aged Charm | Design*Sponge
The furniture in the home is from various styles and eras. Katy's design is really about the complete room, not about the pieces. She has created rooms that can't be identified as traditional, shaker, old-world or mid-century and are that much more lovely by setting labels aside.
A New-Build London Flat with Aged Charm | Design*Sponge
Katy's rich style, color and texture combination works so well in this bright, airy space.
"The terrrarium was in a bush in my parents' garden when my family moved into the house more than 20 years ago," says Katy. "I begged my mum to have it for years until she finally relented. Once I had cleaned it up and planted it she asked for it back - no chance!"
A New-Build London Flat with Aged Charm | Design*Sponge
Katy at her dining table. The large-scale mirror above the table reflects the gorgeous light from the giant windows on the other side of the space.
" I love to have as many fresh flowers as possible, especially in the hallway as it’s the first thing you see when you walk in the door," says Katy. "The hallway table is an old school desk that I found in an antiques market. We use the antique iron as a door stop."
A New-Build London Flat with Aged Charm | Design*Sponge
"I painted all of the internal doors in the flat white because there were eight doors leading off our small hallway and so it felt very oppressive," says Katy. "I painted the bathroom door with chalkboard paint as it is right next to the front door so it’s perfect for reminders and notes."
A New-Build London Flat with Aged Charm | Design*Sponge
"The bedroom was the last room that I tackled and I loved lightening and brightening it by painting the floors white," says Katy.
A New-Build London Flat with Aged Charm | Design*Sponge
The subdued colors in the bedroom play up the casual, carefree feel of the space.
A New-Build London Flat with Aged Charm | Design*Sponge
"The chair used to belong to my grandmother and it was in her guest room. It’s falling to pieces now but I can’t bring myself to reupholster it as it’s covered in beautiful 1950s Sanderson fabric and it will lose all its special memories," says Katy.
A New-Build London Flat with Aged Charm | Design*Sponge
"I’ve tried really hard to have as little stuff as possible on the surfaces in my bedroom as I find it mentally far more calming to be free of clutter."
A New-Build London Flat with Aged Charm | Design*Sponge
"When Jules and I started working from home we decided to change the guest room into a home office," says Katy. "We could no longer justify using a whole room for guests who may or may not come to stay once a month or so."
A New-Build London Flat with Aged Charm | Design*Sponge
The 1930s factory pendant was a gift to Katy from her old colleagues when she transitioned to working freelance. It adds a bit of edge to this otherwise bright, airy and new space.
A New-Build London Flat with Aged Charm | Design*Sponge
"I hung pegboard in my office for all of my crafty bits and pieces. I’m always making or doing DIY for my blog so this is a very practical storage solution," says Katy. "The phone is an original and still works although no one ever uses a land line anymore."
A New-Build London Flat with Aged Charm | Design*Sponge
Baskets have found their way into almost every room of Katy and Jules' home as a way to organize anything from fabric to odds-and-ends.
A New-Build London Flat with Aged Charm | Design*Sponge
"I worked so hard on turning our guest room into this home office. I painted the floor, hung the pendant, mounted the pegboard and put up the string shelving as well as making the desk tops," says Katy. "I love how light, bright and motivating this space is."
A New-Build London Flat with Aged Charm | Design*Sponge
The bright light, white cabinets and wood details make this a clean slate for Katy and Jules, but they'd love to renovate it some day when they can justify the cost of changing a brand new kitchen. "I love blogging about my room makeovers, so my next project is definitely going to be my kitchen," says Katy. "I want to replace the work top and make some DIY leather handles for the kitchen cupboard doors. I’d also like to source some unique tiles that will inject a bit of character."
A New-Build London Flat with Aged Charm | Design*Sponge
"I made the hanging planter from a vintage jelly mold," says Katy. "I grow herbs in it, which is perfect for a small kitchen, especially as I have no garden."
A New-Build London Flat with Aged Charm | Design*Sponge
"I love this vintage shelf that my sister bought me from an antiques market for my birthday," says Katy. "This color runs into the living area and is picked up in the mirror and armchair."
A New-Build London Flat with Aged Charm | Design*Sponge
Katy repurposed enamelware and vintage kitchen pieces into planters for her balcony by drilling holes in the bottom. Her view of London from the balcony is beautiful.

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  • I’m in love with the look of this space – the floor-to-ceiling windows are the main attraction for me, the amount of light that fills and floods the room is simply gorgeous. The colour accents give the room a lovely sense of character too!

    Thanks for sharing this awesome space in my much adored home city.

    With love ♥︎ » Paris by Friday

    • Thanks so much for mentioning that it took two decades to complete your house. I am always in such a rush to get everything done perfectly as quickly as possible. I loved the openness an airiness and especially the small bedside table. It is great and wonderful house I will be following your blog. I do so wish you could come to my 18 eighty’s townhouse in New Jersey and help me get my house finished.

  • What a lovely apartment. The vintage pieces add soul and atmosphere. Love her grand mother’s chair in the bedroom. It would have a lot of stories to tell. I treasure the family pieces in my home. They’re filled with memories. Would live to have a cup of tea and chat at that little table.

  • This is just beautiful, and proof that you can put “old” furniture in a new-build and have it work brilliantly. I love the colours and the sense of texture, warmth and character. You also clearly have an excellent sense of this particular space and what to do with it. I think you were absolutely right to paint all the hallway doors white, but I love the one chalkboard door too. It’s little touches like this that make this place so special.

  • Fantastic work, Katy. I particularly love the way all the colours pop out of the white background. Having white floors as well as white walls is what makes this work so well, I think. Because I have 30+ years on you I am in a constant state of de-cluttering to make sure that my interesting acquisitions don’t get smothered by ‘stuff’. Everything in your flat sits so comfortably in its own space without looking ‘placed’. It is beautifully harmonious.

  • I love this mix of vintage and new – and the white with the muted colors and the pops of color too. Very fresh.

    And I just wanted to say that I’ve been following Katy on her blog Apartment Apothecary for several months now and enjoy taking part in her monthly styling challenge, Styling The Seasons. Not only is it a very friendly community of Instagrammers and bloggers who enjoy playing with style in the home, but there is a large growing body of inspiration there as well and I would encourage anyone interested to have a look.

  • It is so beatiful decoration, the amounto of lights, the colours … I love with the big large windows but here very small windows continue being constructed. The light and the Sun are the life. All the houses should have large windows like that !

  • Ohhh, I love this. It’s in my neighborhood! So much light, so much sun (critical in London) and so much soul! Thanks June for the tip about Katy’s blog!