Inside Emma Oldham’s Victorian and Modern London Home ⇒ British designer Emma Oldham is one of the biggest names in the industry. In 1995 she went into business with Tom Dixon at Space Gallery in Notting Hill, and two years later she opened her Westbourne Grove lifestyle store, Space, that proved to be a raging success. Nowadays, Emma is the sole designer of Solange Design. Today, Decor and Style takes you inside the designer’s Victorian home, decorated with a modern and contemporary style.
With a background in fashion design, Oldham’s decoration is extremely fashionable. Detailing is exquisite, textures have been chosen for their tactile and visual qualities, and colours are eye-catching. She points, for example, to the coral silk lampshades in her bedroom, juxtaposed with shell-pink curtains. ‘I’m always looking for a gentle clash,’ she says. ‘Nothing should look too coordinated.’
Emma explains that she is ‘always led by the building’. When she bought this maisonette, it was an Eighties conversion, with one long sitting room boasting tall windows, a Tudor-style staircase and a kitchen at the back. There were two bedrooms and two bathrooms upstairs. After gutting the property, Emma specified panelled window shutters, 2.4-metre-high double doors leading from the hall into both the sitting room and the kitchen, to balance the four-metre-high ceilings and a grander staircase. Original ceiling plasterwork remained only in the kitchen, so she had the design copied and recreated in the sitting room.
The kitchen is a good example of her spatial training. The room is disproportionately tall for its size, so Emma created lower focal points. She has used two materials on a large scale: Calacatta Oro marble and smoked wood for the cupboards. ‘The big, solid blocks of texture lower the visual focus in the room and also add drama,’ she says.
Emma thinks her flexible approach evolved from art-college influences, further developed when she worked as a stylist for magazines. She likes to work with suppliers, using the best of their materials, which she adapts with bespoke detailing. For example, she has jazzed up her kitchen units with a brass cooker hood, made to order by a metal manufacturer specialising in traditional iron railings. For her bathroom, she researched a Sixties textile pattern online, then asked Via Arkadia to manufacture mosaic sheets to her specification. She chose new parquet flooring but had the suppliers ‘tumble’ the blocks. ‘They thought that I was mad trying to rough up a classic material, but I wanted the floor not to look overly pristine.’
Although Emma’s interiors look effortless, they are the result of hard work. She is also experimental, often choosing inexpensive graphic art to finish rooms. The abstract print in her dining area was a chance buy at Lots Road Auctions and a painting in the bedroom was found in Vietnam. ‘I never work by the book,’ she says. ‘Clients hire me because I take a fluid approach. They know I’ll always choose something against the grain.’
Source: House & Garden