Bold Colors and Bright Light Fill This Vibrant Family Home

Let there be light—and happy jolts of color. One design-minded couple creates a high-style but not-too-serious family home.

It takes a certain amount of pluck to confess that you based your kitchen renovation on ... a paper shopping bag. “An Acne Studios shopping bag,” photographer Billie Scheepers points out with a laugh, referring to the fashion brand’s beigey-pink bag.

“David came home with a new pair of jeans one day, and when I spotted the bag, I knew that was our color.” Her husband, David Harrigan, had originally imagined a different kitchen hue—“perhaps a vibrant orange or a British racing green,” he says—but he wholeheartedly embraced the shade once they had a custom-mixed paint sample. “I believe in making courageous design choices,” says David, founder of Scandinavian design platform Åben.

Billie Scheepers home tour

Anna Stathaki

The couple’s entire London house is a testament to their embrace of color and personality, as well as their practical-minded approach to renovating on a budget. That eye-catching kitchen cabinetry, for instance, is actually IKEA, dressed up by their contractor with custom doors. “It looks like a custom kitchen, but we got it done for much, much less,” Billie says.

David Harrigan

When you're about to move into a house, there's temptation to furnish it as fast as humanly possible. Resist that and take the time to find things you both love.

— David Harrigan

Parents to three children under the age of 6, the couple purchased the four-bedroom Victorian as a fixer-upper in 2016 when their firstborn was still in diapers. “It was very English, with a lot of dark little rooms and fitted carpets,” David says. From the start, their priority was to bring in more natural light. David, an Australian, craved sunshine; Billie, similarly, missed the high-ceilinged, sunny flats of her native Berlin. So the bulk of their renovation budget went toward reconfiguring the warrenlike first floor into a mostly open-plan space and adding a sliver of an extension to the house’s east side. Although the addition contributed an almost negligible amount of square footage, its yield in natural light (thanks to its windows and skylights) was transformative. “Even though London weather is famously dreary, it’s never depressing in here,” Billie says.

Billie Scheepers and family at home in London

Anna Stathaki

The lively, modern decor ensures that as well. A lifelong furniture addict who had already curated a small collection of classics, David cheerfully combed through eBay and the classifieds site Gumtree (“it’s like an English Craigslist,” he says) to fill out the rooms. Meanwhile, Billie contributed her practiced eye as an image maker, styling the furniture, accessories, books, and plants into layered arrangements. And if there’s a little clutter here or there among the handcrafted Scandinavian pieces, that’s to be expected, she says. “It’s impossible to look like a museum anyway when you have kids.”

Courageous design choices like the set of Eames chairs in different colors bring a sense of whimsy to the dining area. Other bold accents—the red light fixture and son Leo’s yellow high chair— balance the neutral rug, white walls, and expanses of glass. Houseplants by the windows seem to dissolve the border between indoors and out.

living room with house plants from Billie Scheepers home tour

Anna Stathaki

The moss green armchair and a proliferation of plants add color and life to the predominantly neutral living room. Keeping the walls white makes the room feel brighter and allows the couple to easily touch up any scuffs. “We would have loved wallpaper,” David says, “but we have three kids.”

portrait of Billie Scheepers

Penny Wincer

The pink doors on the IKEA cabinets and glamorous sheathings of brass make the kitchen the house’s centerpiece. The playful vibe is balanced by the subtle industrial feel of the white brick wall and black pendant lighting. The resin floor looks almost like concrete but is less prone to cracking and friendlier underfoot.

The couple chose custom kitchen cabinet doors made of plywood, without any hardware, for a streamlined look that lets the paint color be the star. To get the exact shade of pink they wanted, they brought a swatch of an Acne shopping bag to a shop with a color-matching scanner. They used Dulux, a British paint brand, but similar scanning services are available at most hardware stores.

As their family grew, the couple converted their former study into a kids bedroom shared by their older two. The switchover involved minimal fuss: The white walls, built-in bookcases, and pendant light remained, and a modern bunk bed took the place of the daybed and a pair of Billie’s framed photographs.

Billie Scheepers

Our house has a mix of special and designer pieces, but we always try to be playful in the way we put things together.

— Billie Scheepers

In the living room, a wall-mounted unit of shelves and drawers (the Vitsœ 606 Universal Shelving System) hosts a rotating display. “We regularly rearrange the books, magazines, objects, and other bits, which keeps the space fresh,” David says.

The couple put another storage piece, a red console table from Hay, to decorative use, curating vignettes on the shelves. The Damien Hirst paintings were a gift from the artist to Billie, who shot several portraits of him.

primary bedroom with color blocking art and bedspread

Anna Stathaki

The primary bedroom balances color blocking and neutrals, resulting in a space that’s lively yet visually uncluttered. The bedspread’s abstract geometries echo those of the large painting on the wall. The oak floors and white wall behind the bed are purposely left bare.

white tile bathroom Billie Scheepers home tour

Anna Stathaki

While the white bathroom is an exercise in simplicity, the use of large tiles is a fresher take on typical subway tile. Dark grout is easier to maintain.

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