Emma and Tom met in Sydney over a decade ago. She grew up there while Tom is originally from Brighton. Both of them have very creative personalities with their own skills and specialities. When they arrived back in the UK, they setup Junction Studio and run their projects in parallel from this South London design studio. These two are always on the move: Emma co-founded and runs the successful Ladyland blog while he supervised the whole renovation of their home which took over twelve months. Not to forget that along the way the adorable Elliot and Frida have joined the happy family that now leaves in Camberwell, South London. Their interior reflects their creative personalities without ever taking themselves too seriously. What strikes you at first is the way they have used colours throughout their home. Added to that is their unique collection of objects, ornaments and furniture which pleasantly surprises you as you discover each room. Together with the colours, it creates a great harmony and yet every object has been chosen individually over time, each one with its own enriching story. Emma and Tom both have a great eye that shows through the entire place.
When did you arrive in London?
We left Sydney and arrived in London in 2007. At that time we rented a flat in Brixton. We moved in this flat four years ago.
What brought you to Camberwell in the first place?
We really liked Brixton but couldn’t afford to buy a property there. So we looked at various places like Streatham, Tulse Hill and here in Camberwell. This area is made of lots of different parts. There is Camberwell Grove with the beautiful Georgian houses for instance. We liked all the different places to eat in the area and having a local art school adds to the atmosphere.
Eventually we set our choice on this place because it was the only place we could afford that still had a soul which hadn’t been taken away by developers. The original floorboard was still there. It was the house as a whole that we loved.
What did you like in this place when you first saw it?
It was just a feeling when we walked in.
The atmosphere at the back of the house is really nice because everyone has these little gardens. In summer time, you hear everyone out as there are these iron staircases on each house and everyone is out. It creates a real sense of community. Some people have barbecues, some play the guitar, it is all very nice.
How did you get inspired to decorate your place? What did you want for it?
When we moved in, the house was like a sort of tunnel and there was not a lot of light in the middle. So when we renovated it, the main thing we wanted to do was to get light into the house. We figured out every single opportunity to have as much glass and light coming in. We rearranged the order of the house so that the living area would be at the back by the garden. We also wanted to use colour! Because we had lived in rented flats for so long where walls are always white, we wanted the opposite so we painted the walls navy and wild green.
When we first moved in we thought about using dark grey for the living room, which was the current kids room. Everyone told us that it would be a big mistake, as it would darken everything. The room was already quite dark as it lacked natural light. Following their advice, we went for a mid-grey. Lots of friends came by to help us paint for a few days. But within a week we realised that this colour was actually a mistake so one evening we put all the furniture in the middle of the room and repainted everything dark grey! Even though the room was dark because it lacked light, the colour made it feel more snug and cosy. As a result our colourful objects stood-out much more. People are always scared of dark colour walls but I think that they make the rooms look brighter as the light hits the objects much more.
Where does your furniture come from?
The only things that we have bought new in this whole place are the sofa and the bar stools. Everything else is second-hand. We found the table and the chairs on the street. The coffee table comes from a vintage shop and we found the sideboard on eBay. The kids’ bed is from Ikea and so is the kitchen but we replaced all the doors with MDF that we painted ourselves. The sink and the worktop are not from Ikea so it feels a bit more special. Otherwise, a lot of our objects are redone. The little armchair is actually Tom’s grandfather smoking chair for which we changed the fabrics and painted the legs. We also find a lot of objects in charity shops that we redo. Many of the pots and bowls that we have in the kitchen come from these shops.
Do you source a lot of objects online?
Yes, everything is done online! The only difficult piece to buy online was the sofa that we got from Sofa.com as they had no showroom and we could not try it. But it is a lovely sofa and it has worked out perfectly well.
Tell us about the objects you have in your bookshelf.
These are from Sri Lanka and we had them as wedding favours on everyone’s chairs at our wedding. The other one is a Christmas decoration that I had as a kid in Australia. Everything is coming from our travel.
What is your favourite object?
I think that the object I would be the most upset about if it broke is the little donkey that we have in our bedroom. Tom’s birth mother made it. She was ill most of her life but had a real artistic talent and made ceramics as her hobby.
That one! (Pointing a finger towards Emma)
Not human! Or an object that you are sentimentally very attached to
(Pointing a finger towards the kids) big laughs
Yes the telly! (Big laughs)
I would say my kitchen; I love my little kitchen and cook a lot.
Do you have different tastes?
Slightly yes, but I think that we are sort of growing to have the same taste.
Sometimes Emma does buy some really ugly things (big laughs). 99% of the time we agree, but from time to time I don’t understand what she sees in some objects.
Like that golden horse outside in the garden! Part of me would really like to have our place looking like a real Moroccan bazaar with lots of fabrics and lanterns but I know that I can never sell that into Tom.
Could you share some of your best secret spots in London?
The South London Gallery between Peckham and Camberwell
Mister Bao in Peckham
I want to try Banh Banh in Peckham which is supposed to be amazing
Silk road is a delicious Chinese restaurant
Kids, what is your favourite place in the house?
My lab in the study! There is a secret door.
The bat cave! (the kids bedroom)