An East London Art Deco Flat for Family

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Our very own London-based contributor Rohini Wahi — a trends forecaster who also runs the design and lifestyle blog The Beat That My Heart Skipped — started jotting down thoughts on her home three years ago. Back then, she and husband David Burpitt, a games developer and owner of Big Pixel Studios, couldn’t imagine the flat they loved would adapt so seamlessly to suit a daughter, one-and-a-half year-old Aarya. Regularly traveling to the US and India, Rohini and David drew interior inspiration for these changes from global influences, but they adore their family life at home. Rohini’s cousin lives opposite them, and her mother stays there during the week to help look after Aarya. In the bucolic Wanstead neighborhood of the big city, this first-floor two-bedroom apartment also provides good old-fashioned community.

The couple used to walk past this unusual block of 1935 Art Deco flats everyday from a rental home on the same road, dreaming of one day living there. The development reminded Rohini of the candy-colored apartments she saw growing up in Mumbai and Calcutta, and she would feel heartsick for them each time she passed. When the perfect one came up for sale, it felt like fate to them. The Grade II listed development (a historic preservation designation) causes visitors to feel like they’re walking into a time warp. Upon entering the complex, two curved arches lead to a circle of 40 units looking like they belong in sunny 1930s Palm Springs as opposed to misty England.

Rohini and David never thought they would be able to acquire and renovate their dream home. The apartment, at the front of the development, fills with daylight streaming in from its original Crittal windows, wrapped around the entire exterior. Having two outdoor balconies in London is also a rarity and a luxury. The family wanted to create an elegant home with good bones, and sourced the best materials for their renovation budget. Three long months spent stripping, painting, sanding, and tiling details in each room — and replacing bedroom and living room flooring — paid off, as did a Cararra marble-tiled hall inspired by Rohini’s grandparents’ home (her favorite feature to date). When they imagined their beautiful, restful sanctuary “that is a balm for sleepless nights and long days,” they envisioned a home that would work hard for them so they would be able to relax. The historic and listed nature of the property means they can’t put their own stamp on any of the original features, but it’s not like they would want to, anyway. —Annie

Photography by Jon Aaron Green

  1. Dre says:

    Absolutely gorgeous home. Thanks for sharing.

  2. isabel says:

    A beautiful home, serene and welcoming. I especially like the family gallery. Do you recall the name of the paint color on your one wall in the bedroom? Thanks.

    1. Rohini Wahi says:

      Thanks Isabel! Yes it was India Yellow by Farrow and Ball. I’m very cautious with colour but this was just delicious – i’m so glad it’s on! : )

  3. isabel says:

    Many thanks. I enjoyed your website also.

  4. I love the color palette in the living room!

  5. Swati says:

    Love that terracotta plate with your daughter’s name in Bengali! The account of the colonial 4 poster and the stories on your blog about Calcutta made me nostalgic. Such a shambling, poverty stricken city, but with such a gentle, joyous, soul. *Feeling nostalgic for the city I grew up in*

    1. Rohini Wahi says:

      Hi Swati, I’m so glad you spotted that plate. My mother drew the design and her name with her fingers using rice flour during her ‘annaprashan’ (first rice ceremony). I was born in Calcutta and return every year it is such a special place and yes so gentle as you say…

  6. Catherine says:

    This place is so beautiful, I think I might cry!

    1. Rohini Wahi says:

      You are too kind!

  7. madlyn says:

    What an elegant,gracious home! And I love the ancestral gallery wall for little Aarya! I am also intrigued with the tiny ottoman in the main living area. Wherever did you find it? I must say that this is one of the very best sneak peeks-thank you for sharing!

    1. Rohini Wahi says:

      Hi Madlyn, thank you so much – the ancestral gallery needs a lot more work – lots of memories framed waiting to be hung!

      We use the ottoman as a coffee table and got it from a great store here in the UK called Homesense the homeware arm of TK Maxx (TJ. Maxx in the US). It’s great for entertaining and also Aarya to climb on!

      1. madlyn says:

        Actually,I’m talking about the little 5 sided one with the zig-zag pattern-next to the blue chair-perhaps it’s a storage box?

  8. Mary Beth says:

    I cannot remember the last time that I looked at pictures of a home that I loved as much as these. Every single element of your home is simply lovely to me. I especially like your ancestral gallery wall and your stunning hallway. Your home must be like a constant hug and cuddle for your daughter – well done!

    1. Rohini Wahi says:

      Wow Mary Beth, I am humbled by your praise. Our home is simple but I have strived for it to be warm and emotive – so glad that it comes across that way to someone else! Thank you so much for your thoughtful words.

  9. hayley says:

    Pure envy. Absolutely love everything.

  10. Jen says:

    So lovely. I am particularly enamored with the ancestor gallery, that little pedestal table in the hallway, and the little mosaic hand mirror (?) on the dressing table. So many beautiful little details.

    1. Rohini Wahi says:

      Thanks Jen! The pedestal table was one i found on sale many years ago from the Conran Shop and the hand mirror was actually another sale item from Anthropologie.

  11. nvrm says:

    Very beautiful, just not much art deco about it.

  12. madlyn says:

    the tiny ottoman with the zig-zag pattern-perhaps it’s a storage box for toys?i wonder where you purchased it? I scrolled your home again this morning and it really is the best!

    1. Rohini Wahi says:

      Ah I see! That is a kids beanbag (also pretty suitable for adults) its by a great Spanish company called Nobodinoz and comes in lots of other great prints.

  13. Nancy A. says:

    Pure Beauty. Love every single detail.

    1. Rohini Wahi says:

      Thank you so much Nancy!

  14. barb says:

    hi lovely – where did you get the bed? lovely

    1. Rohini Wahi says:

      Hi Barb, We got it around 6 years ago from a UK store called Dwell… I don’t think its still available but there are lots of similar modern four posters out there on the market right now. Good luck!

  15. Jessica says:

    This is stunning. I held my breath looking at some of these photos.

    1. Rohini Wahi says:

      Jessica! Can’t believe your kind words for my humble home! Thankyou! x

  16. Susan says:

    This home is perfection, not just for its magic combination of timeless aesthetics and personal touches, but for the sentiments expressed by the owners. The thoughtfulness you put into every aspect of the design is inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing your process and the incredible end result!

  17. Rachel says:

    Beautiful. But most of all, I love the mouse candlesticks! Where could I find such cuteness?!

    1. Rohini Wahi says:

      Hi Rachel! They were a family ‘heirloom’ passed down by an animal loving aunt – they look pretty cute at Christmas table too. I just googled ‘mouse candlesticks’ and some pretty similar stuff came up so give it a go? Oddly the exact same set appears to be sold out on Ebay. Good luck!

  18. Katie E. says:

    What a beautiful space! Where are the large scale floral prints from? I can’t seem to find a source for them. Thanks!

    1. Rohini says:

      Hi Katie E – so sorry I missed this – they are from Surface View – from their National Gallery Collection. Rohini


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