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The Botanical Life: Inside Stylist Yasuyo Harvey’s Quiet London Remodel

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The Botanical Life: Inside Stylist Yasuyo Harvey’s Quiet London Remodel

December 12, 2018

After growing up in Japan and relocating to London to study in 2004, botanical stylist Yasuyo Harvey moved to the suburbs before her then-5-year-old son, Noah, started school. Her family’s circa-1930s house in Worcester Park came with a neighborhood full of young children, easy access to “the best Korean restaurant in London”—and daily inspiration for her graceful floral compositions. “The best plants are usually in the alleyways between houses or in someone’s front garden,” she told The Modern House.

After stripping wallpaper from most of the rooms in the house, Yasuyo and husband Phil remodeled the kitchen and turned their attention to the garden. Working side by side for several weekends, they built a Japanese box garden (a tsuboniwa) with raised beds to grow the flowers for her work. “I call myself a botanical stylist,” says Yasuyo. “I’m more interested in creating objects and sculptures for beautiful interiors than conventional floristry.”

Read on for a tour, original botanical art included.

Photography courtesy of The Modern House.

in yasuyo&#8\2\17;s kitchen, golden grasses and dried flowers are elements  9
Above: In Yasuyo’s kitchen, golden grasses and dried flowers are elements in a botanical still life above the refrigerator.

When the couple bought the house, “The kitchen was so tiny,” says Yasuyo. “Phil is quite big, and he could hardly turn round in it. Our friend Ryuta Hirayama, who works at Jonathan Tuckey Design, helped us draw up plans for an extension.”

The remodeled kitchen has a new range, custom plywood cabinets, and a white composite worktop (“the whitest we could find,” Yasuyo says) with an integrated dish drain area.

a big window above the kitchen sink connects indoors to out, with a view of the 10
Above: A big window above the kitchen sink connects indoors to out, with a view of the back garden.
after stripping off the wallpaper, &#8\2\20;we skimmed the walls and decid 11
Above: After stripping off the wallpaper, “we skimmed the walls and decided to leave the plaster raw. It really works,” says Yasuyo.
the dining area, in pastel shades. note the botanical art behind. 12
Above: The dining area, in pastel shades. Note the botanical art behind.
yasuyo arranges dahlias with flowers and fronds from the garden. 13
Above: Yasuyo arranges dahlias with flowers and fronds from the garden.
the finished botanical composition finds a home on a chair by designer faye too 14
Above: The finished botanical composition finds a home on a chair by designer Faye Toogood.

Yasuyo worked for a florist in London before she began teaching floral classes to Japanese expats, showing them “how to make a bouquet or arrangement. It was great because I could do it in my spare time,” she says. “I did that for two or three years, then started going to Paris Fashion Week with a friend, helping her as a translator.

“One year I met Faye and Erica Toogood when I visited their fashion presentation in Paris,” she told The Modern House. “Faye asked me to decorate her new studio for a photo shoot. … I’ve just finished some work for an apartment that she interior-designed in King’s Cross.”

in the bedroom, an exuberant houseplant mingles with a carnivorous cousin. abov 15
Above: In the bedroom, an exuberant houseplant mingles with a carnivorous cousin. Above the bed is an accordion peg rack; source something similar in Five Favorites: The Useful—and Inexpensive—Accordion Peg Rack.
the power of symmetry: fern leaves in simple wooden frames impose order on a bo 16
Above: The power of symmetry: fern leaves in simple wooden frames impose order on a botanical composition that includes houseplants, dried leaves, and shells.
pods and seeds add texture and structure to yasuyo&#8\2\17;s botanical comp 17
Above: Pods and seeds add texture and structure to Yasuyo’s botanical compositions.
&#8\2\20;i bought the thonet rocking chair from ardingly antiques fair; it 18
Above: “I bought the Thonet rocking chair from Ardingly Antiques Fair; it’s quite an early one from the 1890s,” says Yasuyo. The resin floor was less expensive than installing concrete, but it “does mark quite easily,” notes Yasuyo.
seaweeds and corals form a quiet vignette. 19
Above: Seaweeds and corals form a quiet vignette.
yasuo collects feathery stipa tenuissima grasses for her arrangements from the  20
Above: Yasuo collects feathery Stipa tenuissima grasses for her arrangements from the back garden.
&#8\2\20;i grow some of the seeds here in the garden, and they come back ev 21
Above: “I grow some of the seeds here in the garden, and they come back every year,” says Yasuyo. “I also get things from markets, overseas suppliers and when I’m out walking in the fields.”

See more of Yasuyo Harvey’s house and garden at The Modern House.

More projects we love in London:

N.B.: A version of this post first appeared on Gardenista; for the original story, see The Botanical Life: At Home with London Stylist Yasuyo Harvey.

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