Gavin Houghton's brief for the drawing room of a London art dealer was simple: do whatever you like, so long as it's elegant and shows touches of wit.

Gavin Houghton - designer's room

After what he describes as a ‘typical creative zigzag’ career working on both magazines and for the late, great interior designer David Collins, Gavin Houghton launched his own practice in 2008. He’s known for a quintessential English layered style with bundles of character and charm.

Having worked for this client, an art dealer, before, he was given near free rein to decorate the drawing room of her stucco-fronted house in west London with the only proviso being that it was elegant with touches of wit.

The starting point was the large painting on the back wall, with its strong, Mediterranean colours.

‘I used a plain silk wallpaper by de Gournay,’ he explains.

‘When it comes to good art, flat paint just doesn’t cut the mustard. Silk sets off the paintings and gives depth to the walls.’

A favourite cotton chintz by Robert Kime was chosen for the curtains. ‘It has a 1950s-era, prom-dress vibe about it, and is neither grand nor granny-like.

‘They’re also great colours — grey is unusual for a chintz.’

The pink determined the colour of the armchairs from George Smith. On the floor is a kilim by Robert Stephenson.

To set a more Modernist contrast, Giacometti-style table lamps stand on the side tables and the brass is continued in the chandelier and wall sconce, which are all by Vaughan.

See more of Gavin’s work at the Gavin Houghton Interior Design website, www.gavinhoughton.co.uk