Candy stripes and pom poms: how interior designer Laura Stephens used pattern and texture to transform her tired Dulwich home

From pink candy stripe curtains to fringed leopard print cushions, you can see that Laura Stephens is an interior designer from south London. Laura Stephens, 44, describes her Edwardian semi at North Dulwich in North Dulwich as “traditional, but not stuffy”. It’s a great appraisal. There are many timeless touches, including William Morris wallpaper, elegant brushed metal handleware, and classic wall sconces. But each one is unique. This house features refined curtain fabrics paired with informal pom-pom trims. Laura, who lives with Luke, a 44-year-old tech program manager, and her daughters Daisy, 15, Tessa and Skye, 7, says that it took some time to perfect my style. The family was able to extend the side of their home to preserve as much rear space as possible. This included the original stained-glass doors. Chris Snook Photography. We wanted to keep the house true to its character, but add a sense of informality and fun. The palette is composed of soft neutrals, pale pinks, and gentle blues. There are occasional pops of bright colour in the form of a mustard lampstand or densely patterned wallpaper. This simple elegance is achieved by a pared-back base that includes plenty of natural wood, parquet flooring, and simple metal hardware. It all has a simple, minimalist base with lots of natural wood, parquet flooring, and simple metal hardware. After the birth of Daisy, Laura, a former geography teacher, formally re-trained as an interior designer. Luke and Laura were looking for a permanent home. However, the bones of this house were in great shape six years before they found it. Laura says that the house needed more cosmetic than structural work. It did have the usual tired interiors, magnolia walls, and damp kitchen. We loved it even though it was so tired. The island was designed with s-shaped curving and without a sink or hob. / Chris Snook Photography. For the next four years, the family settled down, making only minor tweaks. Laura says that living in the space for so long was a valuable exercise. It taught us that your initial desires may change over time. “For example, I was convinced that I wanted a large utility-cumboot room. But, we realized that an additional family room was a better use of space for our daughters. “Luke and Laura decided to remodel the narrow, long kitchen that had been built into the middle room. Laura recalls that the kitchen was dark and large, and that we had to light it on a sunny day. READ MOREThe playful extension to north-east London inspired by Epping Forest has just won a top renovation prize. Don’t Move, Just Improve! 2022 winners: Former Sixties’squats’ on The Dulwich Estate are named house of the Year. A refugee designer launches a crowdfunding campaign to help In Casa By Paboy. So, the couple ordered an orangery-like side extension. “We chose that because we wanted to preserve as many of the rear spaces as possible, including the original stained glass rear doors that sold us the house in the first place. “The couple decided to sink the steel from their new extension into the ceiling for a clean appearance. Laura explains that although it was more work, the pair wanted to give the illusion that the extension could have been built simultaneously with the house. “Not having any exposed supports in steel was crucial.” A stylish, scalloped sofa bench with drawer storage / Chris Snook Photography. The project was completed three years ago. It involved long weeks without a kitchen and then a temporary setup in the main room which allowed the family to eat on the bed every evening. It was hard work, but it was so worth it. The new space is now filled up with light. This kitchen has a relaxed, fresh feel thanks to open shelving instead of wall cabinets, antique French lighting and a large island with raw wood elements. Laura says that an island with s-shaped curves and without a sink or hob was designed by Laura. “We love it. “We love it.” Laura says that she likes to take classic designs such as Colefax and Fowler fabrics or Cole & Son wallpapers and give them a new twist through trimming or a contrasting material. The subtle, smart, candy-striped pink wallpaper keeps the richly-textured curtains in our bedroom in check. It gives classic design a simple, elegant look. “Laura decided to remodel the sitting room because the chenille-velvet colour scheme didn’t match the rest of the house. “We had done that room when we moved in, but I wanted a warmer, more welcoming scheme with practical fabrics, especially since we adopted Lulu, our miniature danchund, during lockdown. “The house was meant to be lived in and loved by the family of five. Lulu, our miniature daschund, was also included. / Adrian Lourie. Upstairs, the girls’ bedrooms have pretty wallpapers that range from star-studded to paisley-printed. Vintage desks and iron bedssteads are clever ways to ensure the rooms don’t get outdated as they get older. Although the house is full of texture and pattern, it still maintains the minimalist look. Laura says, “I loved the ability to combine all of my ideas in one place.” “But I didn’t want my house to feel special. It had to be lived in and loved. The family now gathers around the table every night for dinner and spends weekends playing board game in the playroom. The removal of the chimney breast has allowed ample storage. It is housed in smart, duck-egg painted joinery. Laura says, “I’m always tweaking it.” I can’t resist a good tablescape, or an interesting mantel. That’s what keeps life here so interesting.