By Jordan Cluroe and Russell Whitehead
We are living at a time when we are all being constantly bombarded with images of perfect homes. And as much as we both love Instagram and Pinterest, they have a lot to answer for when it comes to homogenising the spaces we live in. Rather than telling people what to do, at 2LG we — Jordan Cluroe (above right) and Russell Whitehead (above left) — have always wanted to empower people to have confidence in their design choices, which we explored in our book, Making Living Lovely: Free Your Home with Creative Design.
We both worked as actors for 10 years and it’s been surprisingly useful in our subsequent careers as interior designers. A core value in our studio is that you should have the freedom to be who you are, without question, at all times and the insight into people and personalities that we gained in the theatre has enabled us to help our clients express themselves.
This four-bedroom maisonette in London, on the market for £5.95mn, is our dream project: perfectly proportioned, classical but modern. It could do with an injection of personality, though. Taking the example of the dining room, we’ve put together five tips for creating the perfect home for you.
Start with colour
When it comes to expressing your personality at home, painting can be a relatively easy and inexpensive way to transform a space. Rather than focusing on rules such as “a north facing room must be bright” or flicking through magazines for inspiration, look inwards. What is your favourite colour? How does that colour make you feel? Where do you want to feel that way?
The dining room in this house is screaming out for some colour — something deep and inviting. We never really stick to one brand but some of our favourite colours at the moment are from Mylands’ Film, Television and Theatre collection.
Find artwork that speaks to you
Art is one of the more personal and private choices you can make for your home and, as with this dining room, you can never have too much art. It’s not about what it costs or how famous the artist is. We love to discover young artists — art school degree shows can be a great place to come across young talent and we’ve found many great people on Instagram including Kris Knight (example, below left) and Emma Stone-Johnson (example, below right). Yes, it takes patience to find artists, but once you do it’s a great way to connect directly with them and support their work.
Play with lighting
Lighting can really change how we interact with a space. We always put several different light sources in a room — the aim is to be able to change the mood of a space with the flick of a switch. We might use a large central light, wall lights, lamps and picture lights but it’s not as complicated as it may seem.
The spotlights in the dining room are functional but you would want something with more of a sense of occasion if you were hosting a dinner party. The room is crying out for a grand chandelier or centrepiece, though if you are just decorating and are not looking to hardwire anything, there are still options available to you. We love the Flos String Light pendant because it can be positioned anywhere in a room.
There is nothing worse than a beautiful double-aspect Georgian drawing room with small sofas clinging to the walls. Sofas can be tricky to get right, however. Start with the function. Is this a sofa for watching movies? Is it more a salon sofa for occasional perching? How many people do you need to seat? If in doubt, go as big, wide and deep as you can. Comfort is king!
We think this dining space could be reconfigured to include a sofa. We love the Song range from Maker&Son — yes the brand is pricey, but these will be with you for a long time.
Free yourself from the idea that your home will one day be “finished”. Like you, your home is always evolving. Allow yourself the freedom to play and move things around or discover a new piece of furniture. This is not to say you need to be constantly shopping, but don’t be too rigid with the objects in your home either.
We will scour antiques markets and online auctions for the perfect “something”. One of our favourites is The French House in York and its London cousin, Pintor Studio, where you can pick up this pair of Castelnaundary pots — ideal for the mantlepiece in the dining room.
Photography: Megan Taylor; AlexWinship Photography Ltd/Strutt & Parker