Victorian Gothic grandeur: at home with interior stylist Marianne Cotterill

Leading interior stylist Marianne Cotterill likes nothing better than hitting the road in search of sofas, tiles and tables...

Her sprawling Victorian Gothic home in a leafy road in Kilburn is a place of exquisite and eye-catching colour combinations.

They range from sage greens to pink and lemon sorbet, pale ultramarines set against moody indigo, as well as metallic wallpapers and even a romantic rose wallpaper hand-painted by Cotterill. The north London property is furnished up to the eyeballs, too, with a grand total of 17 sofas.

“I’ve got a sofa problem,” says Cotterill, 55. “I acquire lots of things for styling, but then I like to keep them. I don’t go anywhere without my van.”

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Individual styling: a crowd of contrasting cushions, a collection of pictures - and the inevitable sofa - in the colourful sitting room


Most rooms are lit by sparkling chandeliers that Cotterill has picked up from antiques markets across Europe. She and her husband, Terry, a property lawyer, have always liked expeditions with the trusty van, so there’s room for booty, as well as the grown-up children - Ted, Bea, Cormac, Declan and Bridie. Not to mention Lolly, their Kerry Blue Terrier. 

Cotterill, who was born in Wales, came to London at the age of 19 and studied interior design at Chelsea College of Art, which she hated. “They made me design stairs for three years,” she says. Later, she went on to work for a stylist and loved it. 

After a brief first marriage, at 26 she met Terry, who was the boy next door. The couple lived in a flat in Hackney when it was still a grim area. 

“We were burgled to death. After the eighth burglary the policeman said, ‘I’ve got one thing to say to you - move.’ So we did.”

They ended up living in Kilburn by chance after their car was stolen. A man who had been offered the vehicle called them after he found the logbook with their details in the car. When they went to retrieve it, the car was parked outside a dilapidated old house in Kilburn. 

They liked the area so much they bought a house there. Then, some years later, they noticed that the neglected property their stolen car had been parked outside was on the market, so they sold up and bought it.

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Neutral approach: white walls create a relaxing atmosphere


The building dated back to 1882 and the previous resident was an old woman who died in the late Nineties. The house was dark and outdated but full of original fittings, including fireplaces and parquet floors, and big rooms, except the little kitchenette, so they took a wall down and made a big family-size kitchen. They did up the bathrooms, but left one that had a pretty bath. “I won’t rip out for the sake of it,” says Cotterill. 

Over the years, she and her family have gently adapted the house. It has a remarkably good feeling, from its old-fashioned pantry to the romantic lawned garden. 

“Every time I come home from a work trip, I think that this is the most lovely place,” Cotterill says.

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European union: encaustic tiles in the kitchen came from a Belgian cafe


MARIANNE'S TIPS AND SOURCE BOOK

What it cost
House in 2001: £1.1 million
Spent over the years (including new roof): about £250,000

Where Marianne shops
Styling: by Marianne Cotterill, visit mariannecotterill.com
Paints: from Farrow & Ball. Current colours include Dix Blue, Blackened, Hardwick White, French Grey, Purbeck Stone, Drawing Room Blue, Pitch Blue and Stone Blue.
Sofa covered in metallic snakeskin: from Robert Allen
Silk for curtains: from Pongees
Peacock blue silk on pom-pom sofa: Osborne & Little

Images by Debi Treloar

Marianne’s favourite antiques fairs include:

The annual Braderie de Lille at braderiede-lille.fr; Sunbury Antiques Market (held at Kempton Park) at sunburyantiques.com; Ardingly Antiques & Collectors Fair (this and many other UK fairs can be found at www.iacf.co.uk/antique-fair-calendar), and Tongeren in Belgium.

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