My friend, Alex, lives in a one-bedroom apartment in a Victorian townhouse in Peckham, South London. It’s in such a great spot, round the corner from a lovely French cafe, a cool greengrocers and the best Indian street food restaurant and whenever she goes away, she always lets us use it as our own London crash pad. Thanks Al! It has an open living space, a cosy bedroom, stylish bathroom, big leafy garden and is decorated to look light and airy. She’s one of my most stylish friends with eclectic taste and an eye for a detail. She’s also a tried-and-true clutter lover – her words – so it’s full of flea-market finds. This Christmas when we were there, I took a few photos to share. Let’s take a tour…
This is where she spends most of her time, and because it’s a small space, she kept the decor light choosing white walls and cool wallpaper for the end wall. There’s a lovely old pine dining table in the corner, a 1960s floor lamp, a time-worn TV cabinet and some cool wall shelves filled with all kinds of nick nacks, a lot of them presents from friends over the years. Most of the furniture is thrifted, except for her sofa and coffee table from Ikea. “I bought to use temporarily when I moved in. That was 12 years ago, and I still have them!”
The little set of white shelves at the end of the room are her favourite thing in the flat. “I saw a similar set on Pinterest and wanted some similar, so I asked my Dad’s friend to make me some. He’s a hobby carpenter and makes things for friends and family out of reclaimed materials like old pallets. I love how they look with the wallpaper.” They’re filled with ornaments she’s collected or been given by friends and family.
At the other end of the room as you walk in, there’s a cool 1960s wooden dresser which she uses as a drinks cabinet and to store a stereo and CDs. The top is piled with more of her amazing finds, including a vintage enamel jug and two beautiful masks she brought back from Thailand.
The side of the cabinet is decorated with a collection of old black and white family photos. “I love nostalgic photos and I’m really interested in my dad’s childhood in the East End of London and family days out of London to go hop picking,” she says. “My mum grew up in London too, actually not far from where I live now, so I’ve some from her side of the family on there as well. I just love looking at them.”
There are more nostalgic family photos, this time in frames, on the wall next to the sofa
On the opposite wall, there’s an enchanting painting of someone’s hands knitting that her brother bought her from cool online shop, Little Paper Planes. So sweet.
Her little kitchen just off the living area is a cosy, homely space that gets lots of light, is painted a dusky pink colour and is full of more nick nacks. There’s also another great 1960s dresser painted light blue with red handles, which she got from a local second-hand shop and uses to store food.
In the hallway is another gallery of more recent photos of family and friends. She started it when she moved into the flat in 2004 and the collection has grown so much it almost fills the entire wall. As you can see she has so many friends! “I started sticking photos onto my bedroom wall when I lived at home with my parents, so this is basically a ‘grown-up’ version of my original one!”
Her plain modern bathroom has been given the ‘Alex’ touch with the addition of this lovely cabinet filled with old perfume bottles and the vase of huge dried hydrangeas. “I eventually found the right one from Achicha but it was blue, so I painted it white.” She also found some 1960s door handles and fixed them onto the cupboard above the loo. Nice touch!
The best bit about her bedroom is her collection of hand mirrors on the wall above the bed. “I was inspired to start the collection after seeing something similar at a place called The Recycled House, recently open to the public as part of a local artists’ open houses trail. I just wanted a small selection, so my collection is finished. I got pretty much all of them on eBay and a lot of them came with the matching brush and comb or hairbrush and clothes brush. I didn’t like the idea of breaking the sets so I’ve kept all the other bits in a cupboard somewhere so that they can one day be together again!”
And finally, her jewellery collection: “I don’t see the point in putting jewellery away in the drawer. It just gets all messy and tangled so I thought I may as well display it, along with everything else!” she says. “I went through it a while ago and threw lots out. I’m not sure why I kept what I have as I haven’t worn so much of it for years. I guess I’m waiting for chunky jewellery to come back into fashion again!”
So there you have it! I hope you enjoyed the tour of my friend Alex’s eclectic London apartment – with the coolest collection of vintage hand mirrors.