Designer Julia Thompson’s dark and delicious schemes make an ideal backdrop for a divinely decadent Christmas.


A Victorian townhouse in south London, comprising a kitchen-diner, utility room, snug/ TV room and WC on the lower-ground floor; a hall, living room and study on the ground floor; and the master bedroom suite with walk-in wardrobe on the first floor. One of the twins’ bedrooms is on the second floor, along with a shower room and guest bedroom, while his brother’s bedroom suite is in the attic conversion up above.


From the double-aspect living area to the roomy landings on each floor, this property mixes impressive proportions with pleasing architectural details. But when designer Julia Thompson was first brought in to weave her magic, the owners had yet to use the place to its full potential.

Although the owners had already embraced ‘going down the dark route’, as Julia calls it, the reception area was originally dressed in a far more formal style.

There was wallpaper on the chimney breasts and curtains at the window – it was very traditional, so Julia painted everything out–the walls, the ceiling and the coving.

Deep grey walls, ceiling and woodwork give a luxe look outside the holiday season.

Pre-lit tree and small baubles, John Lewis & Partners. Large baubles, Habitat. Fans and balls, Pipii. Light, Graham and Green. Table, La Redoute. Foliage, Rebel Rebel. Backgammon set, Jonathan Adler.

A well-loved period portrait is zshuzshed up for the holidays in flamboyant fashion.

Foliage and feathers, Rebel Rebel. Gold garland, Meri Meri. Wall in Madison Grey, Abigail Ahern. Similar fire, Chesneys.

Julia introduced a few reclaimed storage pieces, such as vintage display cabinets, in order to better show off the eclectic accessories that now enliven the space.

Julia also brought in all the plants and their accompanying stands, as she feels it’s these accessories that really make a house a home.


Handleless cabinetry and matching the units and worktops keeps things sleek.

Cabinetry, Oikos Cucine at Simply Italian. Pendants, BSweden at Simply Scandinavian. Indoor plant (just seen), Pearspring.


The kitchen extension on the lower-ground floor was already in situ, however its decor was rather uninspiring. Originally, the walls were painted in a mid-grey, so Julia suggested painting them in a deeper RAL shade to match the colour of the sliding doors.

This also provides tonal continuity with the patio area at the near side of the garden, which enhances the indoor/outdoor feel.

A cascade of Verner Panton FlowerPot pendants adds definition to this open space.

Eames DSR chairs, Vitra. Panton Flowerpot pendant lights, &Tradition. Hurricane lamps, The Conran Shop. Floral display, Rebel Rebel. Fairy lights, Lights4fun.


Upstairs, the story was rather different as the owners had already decided to extend up into the attic to get another bedroom, so Julia worked in and around the builders as that project progressed. She came up with simple design solutions, such as rehanging the doors on the second floor so that they opened in, rather than out, to create additional space both on the landing and in a revamped shower room.

Julia’s expert touch is also evident in the master bedroom suite. The old layout had a separate bathroom and in the bedroom there was a huge antique wardrobe, which totally dominated the space. She took out the wardrobe and reworked the floor plan to create a free-flowing suite, including a dressing area between the bedroom and the bathroom.

An industrial-style pendant light looks perfectly at home alongside the more traditional panelled wall.

Pendant, Buster + Punch. Bed, Made. Table, The Modern Warehouse. Ruched cushion, Rockett St George.

At the foot of the bed is an oversize gilt mirror. The owners wanted a calm space with a bit of drama, which the mirror delivers.

Mirror and chair, eBay. Pendant, Vinterior. Curtains in Designers Guild fabric. Lamp, Mrs Benn. Rug, Hide Rugs.


Picking out the blue from the stand-out floor tiles and using it on the walls and ceiling gives a lovely cocooning feel.

Floor tiles, Martin Moore. Vintage tables, eBay. Similar bath, Drummonds. Dressing area door handle, Buster + Punch. Plants, Pearspring.


A feature in this space – the pegboard wall – was Julia’s doing. She got the idea from a shop she’d visited and decided to install one here on the same grand scale.

Shelving unit, Midcentury Modern fair. Pegboards, Kreisdesign. Similar armchair, Swoon.


The graffiti art is the star of the show, but the wall of hidden storage is impressive, too.

Bespoke storage, Dan Clark Furniture. Graffiti art, Rob Irish (signofdesigns@gmail.com). Bed, Loaf. Bedside cabinets, Mustard.

Photography / James Merrell

Styling / Jennifer Haslam

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