Portrait photographer Abi Campbell shares her Victorian terrace house in south London with her son Ellis, eight, and daughter, Jemima, six. On the ground floor are a living room, playroom and lavatory, utility room and a kitchen-diner with pantry. Upstairs is an office, shower room, master bedroom and guest bedroom. On the floor above is Jemima's bedroom and another lavatory, and at the very top of the house is Ellis's bedroom and a bathroom.
The house was a project for Abi, after her marriage broke up and she needed a fresh start. "My goal was to make something exciting out of this place," she said. "It had a good spirit, but it wasn't my style."
First task? Tackle the top two floors — something Abi began on day one. "I felt the most important thing was that the children had somewhere familiar to come home to," she said. "So I recreated their bedrooms from our previous house at the top of this house — in just two weeks."
The layout was also tweaked to create a bathroom, then Abi installed her trademark look — wall panelling and a palette of off-white shades. "The timber adds warmth and character to a room," she said. "And cool colours are both easy to live with and good for making a space hang together."
With the furniture in storage, Abi camped out in the spare room while she worked. While the upper floors were soon finished, the rest of the house took almost a year to complete. Sanding, priming or painting kept her busy every day.
She is the first to admit that she has a slightly obsessive nature and would spend months sourcing the exact wall light or paint shade.
"I sometimes take it too far," she reflected. "I'm passionate about detail. It was all-consuming, but when you get it right, it's very satisfying." The hub of the house is the Plain English kitchen. "It brings me pleasure every day," she said.
The rest of the house is furnished with a mix of decorative antiques and vintage pieces. It's a look inspired by Abi's previous home, which was renovated with the help of the late interior designer Annabel Evans. "I so admired her," said Abi. "I've done my own take on her style."
But the décor is also testament to Abi's keen eye as a photographer. She specialises in children's portraits and weddings, each shot with remarkable clarity. "Photography opened up my peripheral vision," Abi said. "I really see things now. I don't think I did before."
The wall between the playroom and the living room had been knocked through when Abi bought the house, so she had it reinstated. For similar fire surrounds, try Chesney's. The walls are painted in SC292 emulsion by Papers And Paints. Abi sourced the old cinema seats on the internet — Vintage Cinema Seats sells these — and had them re-covered in vintage linen from Parna. The rug is by The Rug Company. The photograph is by Abi. The painted panel, which Abi bought on eBay, is Dutch.
Abi redesigned the original shower room to create a family bathroom. She found the bath online and had it re-enamelled. Drummonds specialises in repairing vintage tubs. The heated towel rail is from Rads'n'Rails. The chair is a vintage piece found on the Isle of Wight. For similar antiques, try Howe London.
View to upper landing
Abi replaced the banisters with bespoke, modern alternatives, complemented by designer wallpaper. For similar banisters, try Totally Bespoke Joinery. The panelling is painted in Shaded White eggshell and the treads in Strong White eggshell, both by Farrow & Ball. For numeral stencils like these, try The Stencil Library. The Temple wallpaper is by Veere Grenney Associates. The jute flooring is by Tim Page Carpets.
The kitchen is by Plain English, with base and island units painted in SC380 eggshell by Papers And Paints. The freestanding cabinet is painted in Manor House Gray eggshell by Farrow & Ball. The wall lights are from Hector Finch. The brass tap is by Barber Wilsons. The stools are from Cox & Cox, and the flooring is unfinished oak from Waxed Floors. The sisal rug is from Ikea.
A quiet space
"I knew I was going to live here from the start," said Abi. "So I didn't want to do any major structural work. Luckily, there was already this square box extension at the back that I loved. I just changed the metal doors and windows." Abi had panelling installed throughout, for a Hamptons-chic feel, but added vintage furniture to give the scheme a rustic edge.
This quiet sitting area is at the back of the dining area, so it's a good place to relax between meal times. The MDF panelling is painted with French Grey Pale eggshell by Little Greene. The windows are from Steel Window Service. Abi found the leather club chair at La Belle Étoffe.
The standard lamp is a Hector Finch creation, using a reclaimed factory light for a shade. The selection of Hugo Guinness lino-cut prints are from John Derian, and Abi found the dining chairs at Espace Nord Ouest.
The Underground platform sign is a Twenties original, sourced from Patricia Harvey Antiques at The Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair. The pendant light above the table is from Alex Macarthur Interiors. It's fitted with a filament bulb from Urban Cottage Industries.
See Abi Campbell's work at abicampbellphotography.com the full version of this article appears in the August issue of Livingetc, out now.
Photography by Paul Massey