Cover The children's bedrooms are designed as a cheerful ode to colour and pattern

Designed by Angel O’Donnell, this townhouse in Chelsea, London, is transformed with a beautifully layered mix of art, wallpaper, and colourful furnishings

With “gorgeous Goldilocks dimensions”, this classic stucco-front townhouse in London’s buzzy Chelsea neighbourhood already had great bones to work with.

The homeowners, a  jet-setting couple who mostly lives overseas but whose children are attending boarding school in the UK, approached British interior design studio Angel O’Donnell to breathe life into the interiors with colour and splendour.

Don't miss: Home Tour: A Bali-Inspired House is a Surprising Find in This Stylish Vacation Home

“We were tasked with creating a quintessentially British pied-à-terre, which draws inspiration from the playfully print-filled and colour-rich boutique hotels of London,” says Ed O’Donnell, lead designer and co-founder of Angel O’Donnell. “The property needed a full decorative overhaul; the interiors were what you might call ‘lazy luxe’: greyscale and bland. It was reminiscent of a three-star chain hotel—respectable but nothing to write home about—and thus the potential was huge.”

Drawing on the clients’ love for London’s boutique hotels, O’Donnell sought to create a colourful three-bedroom sanctuary that also pays homage to the city’s rich heritage. “We firstly set about defining what ‘quintessentially British’ means to us,” he recalls. “We concluded that it’s about craftsmanship and the assemblage of unique and creative pieces. Once we settled on this definition, we worked on producing a series of lively and vivacious interiors filled with expressive prints, rich hues and beautiful detailing.”

In case you missed it: Home Tour: A Historical House with a Beautiful Blue Home Office and Cosy Bedrooms

And lively and vicarious it is indeed. The living area is designed with an eclectic mix of prints and colourful accents. “We wanted this space to feel refined and sanctuary-like, similar to the lounge areas you find in the Capital’s high-end boutique hotels,” the designer explains. 

The team segmented the large open space into two distinct areas. At one end of the room, a classic George Smith Channeled sofa, upholstered in a sapphire blue chenille with a delicate feather pattern, holds court. Designed as an entertaining area for hosting guests, the space is further livened up with an array of geometric patterns and neon-coloured artworks.

Read more: Home Tour: A Glamorous House With a Fresh Mix of Green and Purple Accents

The other end of the room is a cosy nook that looks out onto the garden. “We love the contemporary reimagining of classic English designs, such as the unapologetically traditional armchairs with rolled ‘English’ arms and plump feather-and-down cushions,” says O’Donnell, on the whisky-hued armchairs. “They are reassuring pieces because their silhouettes are instantly recognisable and insolubly linked to comfort and quality.”

A handspun wool rug and a large buttoned-top ottoman designed in Baltic blue cotton velvet and a mercurially iridescent Le Jardin Du Palais Velours fabric from Pierre Frey further defines the space. “We also really love the sculptural plaster wall lights here, which light up wonderful, artisanal irregularities in the geometrically patterned wallpaper,” says the designer.  

O’Donnell is not one to shy away from mixing maximalist patterns and colours, as demonstrated in one of the most popular spots in the home—the dining area. The dining bench, one of the children’s favourite spots, is upholstered in a snazzy striped fabric, while the chairs feature upholstered seats that make for a bold and colourful statement. 

A well-laid display of striking artworks adds life onto the blank walls. The art pieces were carefully curated by the design team, who worked closely with an art gallery to source for the best and most suitable works. 

“The budget allowed us to lavish each space with an exciting mix of media, including oils, prints, hand drawings, ceramics and metal wall sculptures,” says O’Donnell. “The mix of thickly-impastoed shapes, explosive brushstrokes and kaleidoscopic colours works beautifully with the hues and textures found in our fabrics and furniture.”

The striking medley of colour and pattern continues in the bedrooms upstairs. “We took care to balance embroidered fabrics, densely textured wallpapers and bright pops of colour with warm neutrals and smooth finishes,” explains the designer. “That way, we could create quieter moments throughout the house. Each room ebbs and flows with pattern and calm.”

The master bedroom features an undeniably maximalist, Rococo-inspired Savoir bed that's upholstered in a sumptuous, embroidered cotton satin fabric depicting bountiful flora and fauna. “For us, boutique hotels are all about unique and exuberant bedrooms,” explains O’Donnell. 

Each room is tailored to its occupant—the daughter’s room, for example, is designed with her love of Japanese art and culture in mind. “Naturally, we wanted to create something magical for our 12-year-old client; that said, we didn’t want to produce a pastiche of East Asian culture,” he notes. “It couldn’t look thematic or stagey. Children grow up, their tastes evolve, and we needed to ensure that she could happily grow into anything we designed for her.”

The designer thus skilfully incorporated quality pieces with a timeless appeal, which could be “easily adapted at a later stage to reflect her maturing tastes”. A Savoir bed with a plush headboard that features hand-painted fabric imported from Japan is placed against a soothing backdrop with wallpaper featuring hand-drawn mountains, clouds and temples. 

Prints of early 19th century botanical drawings of Japanese Sago Palms adorn the walls. “We even included Yayoi Kusama’s famous ‘Red Pumpkin’ ceramic to the girl’s bedside—it’s a serious collector’s piece she can cherish and perhaps one day pass on to her own children,” O’Donnell reveals. “We’re thrilled with how this room turned out. And, more importantly, so is our young and discerning client.”

Don't miss: 10 Beautiful Children’s Bedroom and Nursery Designs That are Decor Goals

For the young boy of the family, the designer created a space-themed room that showcases his love of constellations and planets. Wallpaper featuring billowy cloud motifs creates a whimsical setting for an adventure to space.

“We’re smitten with the circular wall lights in the boy’s planetary-inspired bedroom,” O’Donnell enthuses. “They’re gold-coated and suffuse the room with a warm, syrupy tincture. They also cast dreamy shadows in the shape of crescent moons and eclipsing suns.”

Brimming with personality and character, the completed home was a delightful surprise for the family. “They loved it; the big reveal was impactful as they hadn’t seen any stages of the transformation, so for them it was like walking into a completely different house,” O’Donnell shares. “The children’s reaction was especially delightful. Kids can be tough critics, so when they ran into their bedrooms animatedly pointing out lots of details, we heaved a sigh of relief.”

For the designer, the project presented an opportunity to showcase his skills in balancing the delightful mix of pattern and colour. “This was a gem of a brief for us, quite unlike anything we’d done before,” O’Donnell reflects. “In essence, the biggest challenges we faced were self-imposed, because every time we fell in love with another shape, another pattern, another texture, we had to balance it with the other elements in the room.”

He adds: “And, of course, we had to deliver on mum and dad’s love of boutique hotels, a daughter’s love of Japan and a boy’s love of constellations, distant planets and spaceships. On paper, it’s a heady mix, but in the end, these diverse influences worked well together.”

© 2022 Tatler Asia Limited. All rights reserved.