How to pep up a featureless room with an injection of drama and colour

Nels Crosthwaite Eyre employed a dramatic wallpaper to inject pattern, scale and colour into a converted building in north London.

The Hampshire-based decorator Nels Crosthwaite Eyre was asked by a young client to design an apartment that is part of a development of an Edwardian sorting office in Islington, north London. Converted in 2020, it offered a blank canvas and she was asked to bring it to life with a rich mix of patterns from designers such as Soane Britain, Penny Morrison and Robert Kime.

The hall, stairs and landing are devoid of windows, so there was no natural light to soften the feel. Even in large houses, these are areas that can be quite featureless, so a dramatic pattern was deemed to be the most effective option. Sameera, a wallpaper from Lee Jofa, created by the fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, was chosen. Sold as double panels, it is based on an 18th-century Indian textile and has a wide repeat pattern that lends significant drama to the space.

The colour is a berryish red that the designer describes as ‘subtle and not too shouty’. Colour, she thinks, is important when choosing large-scale prints. ‘Bold patterns can work well in both large and enclosed spaces,’ she says. ‘I find they draw the walls in and create an intimate feel.’

The designer says that the choice is a real commitment, because these areas are not contained within a neatly defined room, so they always beg the questions about how far they should go and where they should stop.

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Care, she says, is vital. ‘It’s important to bear in mind that whatever looks great in a hallway usually travels upstairs and is visible from multiple areas of the house.’

Here, faux bamboo table, woven mirror and a complementary paint colour complete the look.

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