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March 2020 / Homes & Interiors / by Ali Howard

At Home With: Reece and Paul Black

With over 43,000 Instagram followers, Reece and Paul, AKA Little Edwardian, are savvy home stylists. We caught up with Reece to talk renovations and noir interiors.     

Photography by Reece Black

The London couple live with their miniature dachshund Izzie in an Edwardian two-bed end of terrace house. It was their first property purchase and the very definition of a doer-upper: interiors were dated and worn, it had suffered some dubious DIY attempts, and the layout was far from ideal. But with an ambitious plan to renovate, and a vision to create a home of rich textures with a glamorously dark aesthetic, it became a true labour of love.

Did you do anything structurally when you moved in?
Initially the property had three bedrooms, but we decided to move the bathroom upstairs. Having a big bathroom upstairs was really important for us and the downstairs WC wasn’t suitable for a bath. One of the biggest issues with any project like this is finding a good builder. We went through a couple but eventually found someone we could trust to do the work.

Any further plans to improve?
We still have some renovating to do, we want to add a single-storey extension, which will consist of a kitchen, second reception space and a dining area. We also want to convert the loft into an extra bedroom and bathroom. But the biggest change we made was to the exterior: removing the dated pebbledash, re-rendering, and also improving and modernising the front garden.

How important is character to you?
It’s the most important aspect. I love a property with lots of period features. It’s so important to preserve character in a property or to add it back in if it’s been taken away. If there’s history or a story behind a property it’s very appealing to me. Character also adds architectural interest. I want my eyes to dance around a room when I look at it – hence why I also love maximalist design. We were able to strip back and renovate an original fireplace in our bedroom, which had been hidden under layers of paint. It’s now one of my favourite features in the room.

Describe your interiors style
Maximalism is close to my heart. We have so many beautiful objects that mean a lot to us – things we’ve picked up on our travels; things we’ve been gifted from friends and family; and things we’ve both found that we admire. I want to be surrounded by them. I feel darker colours offer atmosphere and ambiance, I like a room to feel cosy and inviting. Upmarket bars often have a darker colour palette, which is good for entertaining and conversation, and I wanted to reflect this in my own home.

How did the look come about?
As we were renovating I created mood boards for my lounge and hall, which helped me get a clear idea of what I wanted to achieve. I can often see what I want a design to look like in my mind’s eye, but throughout the process I may change my mind or have a better idea and the final look can evolve drastically.

How does your online presence influence your interiors choices?
I really enjoy sharing my home and my ideas with my followers on social media but I don’t design my house for Instagram. More often than not, my favourite pictures don’t do so well! I love the visuals I’ve created on my Instagram page and it’s very pleasing that the images look great together. I’ve met some amazing people from Instagram with a wide range of aesthetics and styles. There are some fantastic interiors accounts out there, which have been a huge inspiration for me. I always think, post want you like! We all have our own style and we should own it.

Tell me about your use of colour and texture
I chose black to create a beautiful rich, deep, masculine ambiance. I don’t have a huge budget but I associate the use of dark colours with brave and indulgent design. My goal was to portray this from the walls to the furnishings. I used deep and heavy textures in my home to add interest, I’ve done this in my lounge with the curtains, sofa and cushions. Using house plants brings a freshness to a room, especially when you’ve chosen to be bold with dark colours on the walls. The use of metallic finishes makes for a nice contrast, too. They reflect the light. I’m like a magpie, if it’s shiny, I want it.

Which interiors brands are your favourites?
House of Hackney is one of my favourites for their use of clashing prints, depth of colour, and beautiful images. I used them a lot throughout the house. I also love Swedish hardware company Buster + Punch. I’ve bought many light switches and handles from them and we’ll be finishing our kitchen off with their handles. A huge part of my design aesthetic is colour, and for this I went bold. Ahead of the renovation I discovered Irish brand Colourtrend, who produce a massive range of high quality paints. As soon as I painted a sample on the wall I knew it was right, I loved the depth of colour and it created a warm atmosphere.

What was your best thrifty find for the house?
Our bed is the most expensive piece, but it was also a bargain. It’s from Heal’s, but I found it new on eBay. A lovely family in Surrey were selling everything in their home because they were moving back to the Middle East. It cost £4,000 new, but we got it for £350. An absolute bargain and also the best bed in the world.

Which room is your favourite?
I love my lounge. It’s the perfect place to relax in and I particularly love it in the evening when I have
all the candles lit and the lamps on. Second favourite is my bedroom because I love the Fornasetti Cole & Son Nuvolette wallpaper with clouds on.

Instagram: @littleedwardian