Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Goodbye to the Gutting Edge -- Hello to Boho

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Goodbye to the Gutting Edge -- Hello to Boho

Article excerpt

Byline: SCENE FROM LONDON Mary Ann Sieghart

USUALLY I wander through our home in a blur. But occasionally, when I'm ineffectually tidying it in advance of visitors, I have the misfortune to see our house as others see it. I spot the stuffing peeping out of the frayed upholstery, the worn carpet, the faded fabrics. "What an interesting house you have!" is the closest we get to a compliment. Or maybe, "How Bohemian!" "Interesting" and "Bohemian" have hardly been the catchwords of London decorator chic in the past 10 years or so. "Minimalist", perhaps, or "modern". I've been to any number of smart Notting Hill houses, full of chrome and granite kitchens, sleek cream sofas, and varying shades of black, grey and taupe in the sitting rooms. They are impressive and intimidating in equal measure. What they certainly aren't is cosy -- or individual.

Until the credit crunch hit, London -- at least, up-and-coming London -- had been hijacked by these values. Everything had to be new and up-tothe-minute. If you were rich and you moved house, you gutted it first, however good the taste of the previous occupant. It was sweetly ironic that the smarter your neighbourbood, the more likely you were to have your life blighted by the sound of drills from next door. (Our neighbourhood, by contrast, is so scruffy that it's never happened to us in 18 years.) Somehow, we never bought into this philosophy. Partly, we couldn't afford it, and partly, we disdained it. Why would you want to spend so much money just to make your home like every other banker's pad? We didn't want ours to look perfect, as if it had been modelling itself for a glossy magazine. We wanted it to be friendly, cluttered, cosy and individual. So it's always been full of family hand-me-downs and stuff bought cheaply at auctions.

For years, our sitting room housed an antique sofa and two armchairs, bought at Lots Road Auction House for [pounds sterling]150. They had a certain faded charm, and the odd stain or frayed cover added to it. …

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