While modernising her London terrace was an epic project for interior designer Victoria Gray, perfecting its decor was simple
The first house Tom and I bought after we were married was in Cape Town,’ says Victoria, ‘and it needed to be completely renovated. The kitchen had a terrible counter top but the wood from it was too good to let go, so my father made it into a dining table for us. It has moved with us wherever we have gone and has huge sentimental value’
Co-founder of online interior design company Olivine Life, Victoria Gray lives in a three-storey terrace house in Parsons Green, Southwest London, with her husband Tom and their two children, Jemima and Lucas.
First loves can often be fleeting, but Victoria has made a lifetime commitment to textiles – and the more chaotic the better. ‘I don’t like things to be too perfect – it makes for a more exciting atmosphere,’ she says. ‘I prefer mixing old fabrics with new and clashing patterns – all set against a neutral palette to really let the colours sing.’
This ethos is brought to the fore in the living room of Victoria’s Southwest London family home, where polished wooden floors are softened by a sofa strewn with tapestry-inspired and block-colour cushions. On the shelves, beaded figurines, ceramic Buddhas and bold African artwork show Victoria’s passion for soaking up different cultures, from her origins in South Africa to her travels around Norway.
The chaise longue, which was an auction find, at the back of the living room is Jemima’s favourite place to read. On the shelves, dotted between the books, are Victoria’s treasured knicknacks, including a beaded hat from a craft fair and a black teapot from Ardmore (ardmoreceramics.co.za) in South Africa. ‘It reminds me of home,’ says Victoria.
Victoria also likes a challenge. ‘When we bought the house eight years ago, we had to start from scratch as the property hadn’t been touched for more than 60 years,’ she says. ‘The ceilings were caving in, the kitchen was a galley and the downstairs bathroom wasn’t even inside. We were looking for a new decorating project, but I’m not sure we were looking for such a big job,’ laughs Victoria.
The two ceramic jugs on the mantelpiece in the living room are by Ardmore,’ says Victoria. ‘I visit their studio, which is near where my parents live in South Africa, whenever I’m on holiday there. It is instant love for me when I see their work’
To breathe new life into the space, she and Tom opened up the downstairs area by knocking through walls and extending the kitchen into the garden. ‘It was totally unlivable for a while,’ Victoria says.
In Victoria’s loft bedroom the walls are painted in Stiffkey Blue by Farrow & Ball (farrow-ball.com). The white bed linen provides a neutral background for the patterned cushions and throws, which are changed with the seasons.
Having studied architecture and interior design in South Africa before going on to work with esteemed interior designer Nina Campbell in the UK, Victoria knew exactly how she envisioned the new interior to be. ‘I wanted each room to tell a story, while still maintaining a timeless aesthetic,’ she explains. ‘We ripped out the old carpets in favour of muted rugs and painted everything with soft or earthy tones for a calmer, simpler look.’
‘I find it impossible to get rid of anything,’ says Victoria of the various finds displayed in her bedroom. ‘Every item has a story or memory attached to it’
Six years ago, Victoria, together with her close friend Taline Findlater, who also has a background in textiles and design, founded their company Olivine Design. The business, which deals with large-scale interiors projects, rapidly grew and, after being approached by people asking them to redesign specific rooms in their homes, they went on to create Olivine Life. This new online branch of their business allows people to create moodboards for every room in their house, based on the wealth of products researched and curated by Taline and Victoria. ‘We wanted to create something accessible and easy to navigate for people designing rooms while still in their pyjamas. Design is something that is carefully thought out and is unique to each person. The only rule is to follow what feels right for you.’
The office is set up so Victoria can work remotely with the rest of the team at Olivine. She can create moodboards and store cuttings from ongoing projects – though the number of designs available at the company makes it impossible to keep stock of everything
For further information on Victoria and Taline’s work, visit olivinelife.com