In their first home renovation, this millennial power couple mix fun entertaining spaces with cosy textures and a darkly glamorous colour palette.
Photography by Adam Fussell
Emma Lou and Ollie may be young homemakers but when it comes to matters of architecture and interiors, they can be charmingly old fashioned: for the model and the reality TV star, there was no question that their dream home would be anything but a period property. As much as the couple like to champion contemporary brands, namechecking Buster + Punch, Loaf, and Murals Wallpaper amongst their go-tos, they can equally be found trawling the Capital’s antiques markets for one-off vintage finds. It’s this penchant for the pre-loved that drew them to their west London Victorian terrace in the first place. “We love character,” Emma Lou explains. “A new build or modern property was never, ever on our radar. We love the sense of history, imagining all the families who’ve lived here previously and all the goings on. I have to stop thinking about it too much or I do freak myself out a little… But we have a really lovely energy in our house. It was something we both felt on the first day we viewed it.”
The three-bed townhouse is indeed bursting with character and energy but any unwanted ghosts of previous ownership have been well and truly exorcised by a chic renovation that saw the pair put their stamp on the property – with the help of interior designer Georgina Walker-Duncalf. “It really is a minefield out there,” admits Ollie. “Sometimes the choices and colours can be overwhelming, so Georgina was pivotal in our final decisions,” Emma Lou agrees. “She planned each room and the general feel of the house before starting anything. As it was our first renovation, we didn’t really have much structure, which was a bit of a downfall. I’m pretty impatient, and I was really pushing our amazing builders hard. But thankfully everything was done perfectly,” she adds.
With a side return and kitchen extension already part of the floor plan (thanks, previous owners), the transformation was largely a cosmetic one – save for a few irritating structural hiccups which were documented in the duo’s highly watchable YouTube series From Crib to Casa, which follows the renovation journey. Now, the four storey property is a wholly glamorous affair full of rich textures, gleaming metallics, mood lighting and dark, broody tones. It’s not short on pre-owned treasures, either: “Emma is obsessed with finding second hand junk and bringing it back to life,” says Ollie, recalling their best thrifty finds. “She found an old Singer sewing machine and we made it into a sink for our cinema room WC. We also found various copper pots, pans and a fire extinguisher in an antique shop in Henley for pretty cheap!”
Originally a five-bed, the pair were able to play around with the property’s living spaces and have created a couple of “juicy fun rooms,” as Emma Lou beautifully puts it: a cosy home office in the attic and a seriously plush cinema room, complete with one enormous velvet sofa and state-of-the-art surround sound, in the basement. “I’ve dreamt of having a movie room since I was a teenager, so it’s a real ‘pinch me’ moment every time we go down there for a movie-off!” says Ollie.
With Georgina’s guiding eye, the couple were able to realise their vision of a wonderfully inviting home that’s as much a relaxing sanctuary as it is a fashionable party pad: the colours simultaneously evoke nature and nightlife. “Our initial idea was Buster + Punch (dark, sexy and a little rock ’n’ roll) meets Ralph Lauren (cosy, homely and comfortable),” says Emma Lou. “Georgina brought it to life so seamlessly, which is something neither Ollie or I could have done on our own without it taking us 10 years,” she laughs. With the use of just four colours on the palette, “a really deep, dark blue; a kind of mushroomy light grey; an almost black, and a khaki green” (all from Mylands Paints), there’s a pleasing continuity that leads you from one room to the next, creating that all-important flow. “Each room is so different, but almost a cousin of the previous,” observes Emma Lou. “We have a lot of deep dark velvets, warm woollen carpets, mahogany wooden floorboards and flashes of gold throughout.”
And while Ollie is in his element in their luxurious basement cinema, Emma Lou’s happy place is undoubtedly their open-plan, marble-clad Terence Ball kitchen: “It’s the heart of the home, and somewhere that we regularly host friends and family for long, lazy lunches and dinners. We have already made some great memories in our kitchen,” she says. Ollie wouldn’t disagree: “Emma loves to cook, feed our friends and host parties here. She also loves to drink wine and that’s where the wine lives,” he smirks. It’s hard to imagine that their guests would ever want to leave.