It seems there is no task too bold or daunting for Rachel Chudley, one of the UK’s hottest rising design stars, who in the past year simultaneously began renovations on her home in East London while she and her husband, Nico Kaufman, welcomed baby Otis into the world. Here, Chudley talks us through her initial priorities in stylishly preparing her house for the early days of parenthood.
FREDERIC MAGAZINE: HOW DID YOU DECIDE WHICH ROOMS TO TACKLE FIRST?
RACHEL CHUDLEY: We discovered we were pregnant the day we moved into the new house, so our preliminary plans changed radically. Suddenly, we needed to prioritize the nursery, and we also wanted to make our room a sanctuary for those early days of madness after the birth. Luckily, we had great builders, Thunder Electrical, who managed to carve out the perfect space for us right at that very tender moment of being heavily pregnant.
WHAT DREW YOU TO THE HOUSE INITIALLY?
Although the house, a Victorian villa, had previously been divided into flats— which meant you entered into rooms from very strange places—we loved its south-facing light and the way its high ceilings and staircase, leading through the center of the house, created a peaceful, old-school flow.
YOU’VE REALLY GONE FOR IT WITH COLOR AND PATTERN.
I love drama and narrative—I would call my style modern baroque, where I love experimenting with interesting combinations, playing with contrasts, and bringing in unexpected original touches—so I chose a flamestitch velvet to bring a feeling of organic movement into both our bedroom, where it clashes perfectly with the black and white sawtooth tiled pattern of the floor, and on one wall of the bathroom.
YET THERE IS ALSO A LIGHTNESS TO THE PRIMARY BEDROOM.
We used a handmade silver-leaf wallpaper on the walls because I wanted to challenge my sense of what materials you would traditionally use in a bedroom—the way the colors and light from the sky outside reflect off the metallic sheen and around the room is so beautiful. Now I think every bedroom should be silver!
THE SOFA LOOKS VERY DALÍ-ESQUE.
I have always loved surrealism—making the ordinary appear dreamlike and different—but the undulating shape of the sofa was in fact designed for practical purposes. It provides privacy as a screen across the main window while allowing natural light to flow into the room. The Joe Sweeney bent Jesmonite column really transforms the room with its lighthearted nod to architectural grandeur.
AND THE BED HANGINGS FEEL VERY ELIZABETHAN.
I wanted to pay homage to the use of tapestry in traditional bed hangings, such as those seen in Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire, but with the feeling of something more contemporary. The mix of the modern geometric velvet with the chintzy Victorian-inspired floral really gives me a thrill.
YOUR OUTSIDE-THE-BOX THINKING DEFINITELY SHINES IN THE NURSERY.
I eschew all those rules of what certain spaces should and shouldn’t look like— our lives don’t operate within those traditional confines of spaces anymore. I wanted Otis’s room to feel both magical and imaginative for a small child growing up, while steering away from typical baby colorways and themes. For example, I love how the yellow of the curtains cuts through the darker hues of the medieval-inspired, animal-patterned fabrics on the walls, providing a fresh break, and the delicate touch of the embroidery will give Otis something to appreciate. The daybed is the perfect place to snuggle and read to him at bedtime while he’s still a baby, but it will also become his bed later on.
WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN MOST DARING?
Lining the walls of the primary bathroom with velvet was a big risk—I would never tell my clients to open all their windows when they have a bath—but it was worth it. I’m passionate about the luxury of having a bath, so here I wanted to create a deep, warm feeling but also fill the room with light, so we opened up the wall and installed a giant sliding door which leads into the bedroom. The way the light offsets the chartreuse of the walls is sensational!
FINALLY, WHAT DOES HOME MEAN TO YOU?
A place to rest, and then within that comfort; to be inspired.
Get the Look
THIS STORY ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN THE FALL 2022 ISSUE OF FREDERIC. CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE!