Modern Rustic #21

By giving classic colours and furnishings a modern edge, interior designer Emilie Fournet has created a home that speaks volumes


A Georgian townhouse in east London. On the ground floor is a double reception room, kitchen, breakfast room and a bathroom. On the lower ground floor, there is a guest suite and a utility area. On the first floor are the master bedroom and a further guest bedroom, with a WC at the top of a short flight of stairs.

This is a house rooted in its Georgian history, but its beauty has been illuminated with dashes of modernity. Creative colours, vintage furniture and clever architectural ideas have been brought together by interior designer Emilie Fournet to create an enduring whole. ‘If you surround yourself with art, objects and furniture that have an emotional memory, the look will transcend time,’ she says.

Initially brought in to advise on one small room, Emilie went on to transform the entire ground and first floors – and then created further living spaces in the lower ground floor. The most radical move was adding a glass box to a back wall so the kitchen and downstairs areas benefit from natural light.


‘This property has beautiful bones, from the panelling and mouldings to the shuttered windows,’ Emilie says. ‘My aim was to stay true to the period, but also bring the house into the 21st century, with a nod to key design eras along the way.’

The flooring needed replacing in several areas, so Emilie chose a dark stain for the new boards. ‘I had the image of an 18th-century Spitalfields house,’ she says.

That historic atmosphere comes to life in the breakfast room on the other side of the hallway. A muted green paint hits the right note and is warmed up with low-key reds. ‘I’m not usually a fan of red, but this project converted me,’ says Emilie. A vintage rug highlights both colours, creating an effect that is suitably gentlemanly (the homeowner is a single guy), but never fusty.

‘We wanted the look of a Spitalfields townhouse with a dash of gentlemen’s club,’ says Emilie. Using the earthy green all over, including on the window frame, delivers a modern aesthetic.


Emilie designed the kitchen layout and then took her plans to deVOL. ‘I wanted to make the most of every inch,’ she explains. Textures are key, with the island topped with slabs of salvaged iroko wood, which were science-lab worktops in a previous life. ‘There’s even a bit of smutty graffiti scratched into one edge,’ she smiles.

The deep grey-green paint shade on the cabinetry works with the marble worktops and brass splashback, but to balance the look so it didn’t become too masculine, Emilie added a row of lacy glass pendants from Retrouvius. ‘They have a hint of art deco, which is like catnip to me,’ she jokes.

The original doors between the kitchen and the breakfast room were reworked as sliding pocket doors, then customised with salvaged brass handles.


A wallpaper that looks like wood adds drama to this space, which is used when friends or family stay over.


Blush was the starting point for the geometric colour-blocking in this bedroom.


Emilie likes to include surprising elements. In here, it’s the blue ceiling.


The steel-framed shower enclcosure acts as a contrast to the more traditional panelling and vanity.

In this home, there’s now a flow between spaces but the moodstill subtly shifts from room to room. With mellow colours andclever furniture choices, it segues from edgy to relaxing, surprising to reassuringly trad.

‘I’m always searching for a look that’s unique but, ultimately, a home is somewhere where you need to feel comfortable and relaxed,’ says Emilie.

See more of Emilie’s work at

Photography / James Merrell

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