Modern interior design for the classic London terrace house

Interior designers Emma Pocock and Bunny Turner have have transformed more than 30 London terrace houses and are experts in making the most of this distinctive housing type.
Bunny Turner and Emma Pocock are doyennes of the London terrace house. Their interior design company, Turner Pocock, has worked on as many as 30, and the pair's confident and intelligent designs are fully expressed in their own homes. With so much experience of this distinctive housing type, Emma and Bunny have plenty of tricks up their sleeves when it comes to adapting them to suit modern life.

Emma Pocock and Bunny Turner
© Adrian Lourie
Bunny Turner and Emma Pocock have mastered the art of decorating the London terrace house with their interior design company Turner Pocock

Colour and pattern are their not-so-secret weapons for counteracting the dark and dreary corners that are the bane of the typical London terrace house. Stairs eat up a surprising amount of room and since these circulation spaces are often not the brightest, Emma and Bunny are careful to add light and personality as a distraction on those constant trips up and down.

"These houses all look the same from the outside so I want it to feel very different when you come through the door," declares Emma who lives with her husband and baby in a late 19th-century terrace in Hammersmith's Brackenbury Village.

Emma Pocock and Bunny Turner
Carmody Groarke architects worked with Bunny to create a kitchen with impressive ceiling heights and great light thanks to high-windows and extensive glazed doors, while Michael Anastassiades' lights add to the drama of the space

Bunny's home is in nearby Brook Green and while its layout is very similar, she and her husband decided to rethink the organisation of the rooms and made some other, rather dramatic alterations. They appointed architects Carmody Groarke and worked with them on the whole house including a "cathedral-like" kitchen formed by taking some space from what was previously the ground-floor rear reception room. Ikea cabinets kept the cost down and allowed Bunny to splurge on the Anastassiades lighting. In all, the kitchen cost about £14,000.

Light is an important addition in the kitchens of both designers, where high-level windows make a big difference to the sense of space — and can be an inexpensive and less radical alternative to a full-on rebuild. Emma and Bunny encourage their clients to think carefully about all the space in their homes and that, importantly, includes the basement. "It allows for a whole new floor of living," enthuses Emma, "and the space can be used in a hugely varied way."

Not everyone can afford to spend on architects or basements (Bunny and Emma are still saving for theirs) but invoking the magic of colour, pattern and personality can have equally powerful results. And not all major transformations involve five-figure sums so Turner Pocock will happily deploy paint and paper from top to bottom for a more cost-effective makeover.

Bunny's living room
Bunny combined dark walls and lighter furniture and accessories in her living room and suggests "embracing the dark" by using darker colours on the walls of less well-lit spaces

"Paint costs the same whatever colour you use," says Bunny, an expert colourist whose many shrewd recommendations include painting a dark room darker (yes, really!). "You can't make a dark room bright," she says, persuasively, "so embrace it." Emma agrees: "Make it as colourful as possible."

She recommends deciding on a particular palette for the house and implementing this over time, unifying the whole home by subtle ploys such as applying the same colour to the skirting boards throughout. A zingy citrine trellis wallpaper brings Emma's hallway to life, and the lively artwork (favourite pieces brought back from Malaysia) reinforces its vibrant effect. The whole hallway cost about £4,000.

When it comes to wallpaper, you must "trust yourself a bit", says Emma. "If you really like the sample, go for it — and don't forget to hang favourite things on the walls too — art, mirrors." Ubiquitous as the terrace house may be, if you follow this pair's advice, it most certainly won't be boring.

Emma Turner's living room
Grey walls in Emma's living room allow other colours to really sing in Emma's Hammersmith home

Bunny's top five tips for transforming a London terrace house:
* Use contrasts in a room: dark walls with light furniture, or light walls with dark furniture.

* Paint radiators: in with the walls to disguise them.

* Introduce patterns; and make a bold statement with a rug.

* Use pocket doors: in areas where you want to increase the flow of space between rooms.

* A front door sets the tone: make a statement with ironmongery and colour. We often use banister finials as front door knobs - they look great.

Emma's kitchen has plenty of natural light
Emma's kitchen has plenty of natural light and white walls in the kitchen which provides contrast to the rest of the house

Emma's top five tips for transforming a London terrace house:
* Wallpaper all the walls in a room: it looks brave and individual.
Think carefully about the hallway, it links every room in the house and sets the overall tone.

* Keep kitchens light and airy: it is important to have somewhere in your house where you can let the outside in — particularly in the UK where summer days are so few.

* Use your shelves for display: it makes the difference between a big mess or a beautiful feature.

* Be eclectic: mix old and new furniture, and add art and character with pieces collected on your travels.

Emma Pocock and Bunny Turner
Emma's contemporary glass balustrade keeps the stairwell clean and uncluttered and allows a good view of the collection of tower pictures (left); bold red, said to be a good colour for business, dominates Emma's study (right)

Getting the look
* Interior design: Turner Pocock (020 3463 2390; turnerpocock.co.uk)
* Architecture: Carmody Groarke (020 7836 2333; carmodygroarke.com)
Emma's house:
* Hall wallpaper: Manuel Canovas (020 8877 6400; manuelcanovas.com)
* Living room rug: Amy Kent (07979 594 651; amykent.co.uk)
* Study walls: Papers and Paints (020 7352 8626; papers-paints.co.uk)
Bunny's house:
* Sofa, living room: David Seyfried (020 7823 3848; davidseyfried.com)
* Lights, kitchen: Michael Anastassiades (020 7928 7527; michaelanastassiades.com)

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