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This compact home is a lesson in colour and clever styling

Interior designer Kim Stephen’s home combines her signature flair for colour with a clever use of its relatively compact spaces

As it is situated in a row of brick homes, the facade of this house is almost identical to those on either side of it. Step inside the front door, however, and the uniquely colourful style that interior designer Kim Stephen has brought to her own abode rapidly becomes evident.

“I am naturally drawn to colour… and I’ve certainly got a very wide range of colours in this house,” says Kim. She’s not exaggerating – from the bright blue
and green ikat wallpaper in the guest cloakroom to the bright pinks and yellows in the open-plan dining, kitchen and living space, a plethora of vibrant shades meets the eye all over the house.

Asked where her affinity for colour comes from, Kim simply says, “Colour makes me feel happy and brings interiors to life. My use of it feels intuitive – I’m just drawn to it when given a choice.” As her mother owns an interiors textiles showroom, she grew up being exposed to a huge array of interiors fabrics, “and I think I just found the colourful ones more exciting and interesting,” says Kim.

Bold moves

As anyone who has tried to put together a decor scheme using a range of bright shades knows, it’s not easy to get this sort of look right. Kim says that to make colour work in interiors, “it’s always important to temper with neutrals and texture,” and adds that here she made sure both of these elements were effectively used.

The best example of this is the textured charcoal wallpaper that covers one long wall on the open-plan ground floor, and then wraps around the far end of the living space to subtly demarcate the lounge area. The wallpaper is one of Kim’s signature materials. She says, “It is the perfect ‘antidote’ to my full-on colour, and art looks amazing against it [too]. It brings warmth and texture and the light bounces off the linen-like effect of the paper.”

It’s got personality

Against this neutral backdrop, Kim has used a combination of boldly colourful pieces – the acid-pink rug and striking abstract artworks that feature various shades of yellow – as well as a cleverly chosen hanging light fitting, to make the space come alive. But these elements all came together very intuitively and ‘organically’, says Kim. “I spend so much time meticulously planning interiors within my work sphere, so I quite enjoyed just letting this space develop its own personality over time.”

Also a boon was the fact that the house had previously been given a considered structural renovation. This meant that its layout had been enhanced with excellent built-in storage, high-quality appliances such as the kitchen cooker and extractor hood, and skylights that give a number of the rooms
a greater sense of airiness and spaciousness.

The home’s location – a stone’s throw from a main shopping area – is another key part of its appeal to Kim, her husband Graham and their two children, Jamie and Anna. “When we moved from South Africa, Graham loved the idea of living in a village but I really wanted to be in the city – and to our surprise we ticked both of those boxes when we arrived here.”

While the family very much enjoys life out and about in their ‘village’, they must all equally relish time spent in their home’s more private spaces on the first and second floors. Here, Kim has created a cocooning yet contemporary main bedroom for herself and Graham that features an upholstered headboard in a bold blue pattern. Add more graphic pieces in the form of scatter cushions and punctuate with a mix of blue and yellow throws, and the effect is all breezy summertime – yet one can easily also imagine a more moody blue atmosphere here, created via the inclusion of velvety textured throws and decor accessories in deeper blue tones.

Creative collaboration

Also on the first floor is Anna’s room, and Jamie’s is situated on the loft level above. Both very much reflect the personalities of their occupants and clearly came together as a result of real collaborations between them and their mother. Jamie “wanted a room that felt like his own little den, which it is,” says Kim, while Anna “seems to acquire and collect all sorts of artwork and knick-knacks, hence the emphasis on display space.”

Back downstairs in Kim’s home office – situated at the front of the house – a monochrome patterned wallpaper repeats another of her regular signatures, this time the use of black and white as a ‘neutral’.

The Schumacher wallpaper used here is called ‘Deconstructed Stripe’ and, Kim says, “I find it jazzy and light, and it brings me joy while I work.”

Last but very much not least is the guest bathroom, with its blue ikat wallpaper and large brass-framed mirror. Kim says that from a decorative point of view, this is “the place to go a little mad in – you are in there for such a short time and it’s such a great opportunity to give someone an ‘experience’. I want them to come out with a sense of wonder.” Which is probably a very good way to describe the effect a visit to this effortlessly chic house achieves in general.

Words by: Robyn Alexander. Photography by: Elsa Young.

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