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An Eccentric Town House in Islington by Design Star Rachel Chudley


An Eccentric Town House in Islington by Design Star Rachel Chudley

December 9, 2019

A while baxck, our London correspondent Christine sent me a late-night missive to say she’d met a promising young designer at a dinner. “I sat next to this lovely interior designer last night at the Ochre party (which was fab, by the way). Her name is Rachel Chudley, and she is married to the son of paint colorist Donald Kaufman and she only uses Donald’s paint. With her personality and work, I think she is a rising star on the London design scene.”

Of course, I quickly Googled “Rachel Chudley” and was instantly entranced. Her work is fresh and quirky and hard to pin down stylistically; a mix of antiques and modern (so hard to pull off) with unexpected color. And it doesn’t look like anything else we’ve seen lately.

“I’ve loved interiors, art, and color since I was small,” Rachel says. “I studied art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art and went on to intern at Thurston/Boyd Interiors in Laguna Beach, California. I then worked in the art world, at the Cob Gallery, where I curated exhibitions of art and design with my great friends Victoria Williams and Cassie Beadle. The exhibitions were centered around themed interiors and provided a platform for us to play creatively with art and design. My first interior job really came from there. My style is playful with a focus on color and texture. At odds with formalized style, it reflects the environment of our clients: their quirks, passions, and humor. Art is at the center of my practice; I look at color and compositions in artworks to get inspiration for my interiors. I believe art and artful living can bring moments of joy into everyday life.”

Join us for a tour of a town house in Islington, which Rachel designed for an artistically inclined writer friend:

Photography by Sean Myers, courtesy of Rachel Chudley.

rachel chudley islngton town house hallway 2
Above: The entryway is papered in a custom mural: “We worked with an amazing company called Surface View using a blown-up detail from a J.M.W. Turner painting; his brush strokes become abstract and create a cloud-like entrance, which makes you feel like you are stepping off the street and into another world.”

rachel chudley islngton town house 10
Above: “The client is a great friend of mine; she is a writer who leads a creative life,” Rachel says. “The brief was to create a fresh modern feeling space while paying homage to the elegant town house. I love to buy things at auction: You can find hidden gems and upholster them, completely transforming them. I think my favorite piece in the house is the antique chair in the living room, which we reupholstered in a Clarence House Tibet Print tapestry fabric with tigers repeated in a very satisfying pattern—just heaven!”
“I try to look at the challenges of a house as an opportunity to try interesting design choices, and work with the natural personality of a space rather than against it,” Rachel says. “We love Donald Kaufman Color, of course; the paints are a revelation and have the power to make a room come alive. For this house, Don created custom colors for most of these rooms.”

rachel chudley islngton town house sofa
Above: “We used the client’s love of Pop art as our color inspiration starting point,” Rachel says. “We chose lighter candy-floss-like pinks, greens, and blues to complement the strong primary colors of the artworks. The light, bright ground-floor living room was painted in a light-reflecting custom pink Donald Kaufman DKC color, highlighting the height of the ceiling and the natural light that floods the space.”

rachel chudley islngton town house fireplace
Above: A classic Butterfly Chair and a Marcel Breuer Wassily Chair flank the fireplace.
We asked Rachel for her favorite sources, and this is what she told us: “Fabrics from Abbott & Boyd, as well as Clarence House. I love architectural salvage purveyor Lassco in London’s Brunswick House—fabulous finds and a great restaurant. Also Pure White Lines in East London and Dimore Studio and Fornasetti in Milan.”

rachel chudley islngton town house living room 10
Above: Rachel sourced most of the lampshades from Ben Pentreath. Shown here is a Marbled Paper Lampshade).
“We looked into the feeling of the house as a whole when considering the paint colors,” Rachel says. “The large, dark lower ground floor was split into two spaces; we painted half of this space in a soft, light color, with the wainscoting painted in a deeper color to pull both spaces together while defining them and turning one large space into two more manageable ones.”

rachel chudley islington kitchen
Above: The kitchen/dining area overlooks the romantic walled garden.
rachel chudley islngton town house sitting room
Above: “The deep, complex DKC 98 color works well with the golden mustards and reds in the sitting room,” Rachel says.
rachel chudley islngton town house sitting room 2
Above: Every surface in the sitting room—shelves, shutters, trim—is painted a uniform moody shade of blue.
rachel chudley islngton town house sitting room 3
Above: Rachel used velvet upholstery on the sofa and side chairs to add a shimmery effect.
rachel chudley islngton town house bedroom 17
Above: Rachel found the midcentury modern Scandinavian teak bed at a vintage shop.
rachel chudley islngton town house bedroom
Above: A writing desk and chair occupy a corner of the master bedroom.
rachel chudley islngton town house bath 2
Above: “I wanted the bathroom to feel cozy and warm,” Rachel says. “I did this by focusing on the fireplace and including an armchair. The walls are painted in Donald Kaufman DKC-62.”
rachel chudley islngton town house bathroom
Above: “The bathtub is a one-off vintage find; the taps and fixtures are from my favorite bathroom shop, Aston Matthews.”

For more quirky English spaces, see:

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