Pandora Sykes London house | House & Garden

Rachel Whiting

Journalists are accustomed to deadlines. Even so, completing on a house when seven months pregnant and being determined to redecorate entirely before giving birth was ‘quite a punchy move’, concedes Pandora Sykes, a writer and co-host of the weekly culture podcast The High Low. More so, when one learns that Pandora had never done anything similar before. However, equipped with strong aesthetic vision and gung-ho optimism, an ability to budget and an encyclopedic knowledge of ‘what was out there and where to find it – I’m a big believer in doing your homework’ – Pandora says she never considered relinquishing the project. The result is a triumph of intention: bold and colourful, with moments of romanticism.

The house, a Victorian terrace in Kensal Green, north-west London, retains much of the original detailing – cornicing, ceiling rosettes, fireplaces – and had been expanded upwards and outwards by its previous owners, so no structural work was needed. The starting point was the textiles and wallpapers Pandora had coveted: the Scalamandré ‘Zebras’ wallpaper in the study and the sitting-room curtains made from Le Manach’s ‘Guépard Cambridge’. ‘They were my biggest investment – and a controversial one. A lot of people advised against it, but I knew if I had a really good leopard print, it would work.’

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These fabrics and wallpapers informed the colours of the adjacent furnishings, which were employed with impact and restraint. Most of the rooms have a palette of two predominant hues, with occasional tonal blocking. This is best seen in the sitting room, where those leopard-print curtains are set against Farrow & Ball ‘India Yellow’ walls and a sofa in a turmeric chenille from The Cloth Shop. In the main bedroom, a headboard upholstered in Pierre Frey’s ‘Lasso’ cotton is paired with calming pale pink walls. And, in the nursery, curtains in Nina Campbell’s ‘Beau Rivage’ co-ordinate with similar shades of blue in Christian Lacroix’s striped ‘Beach Club’ wallpaper.

And then there is Pandora’s love of vintage finds and antiques, encompassing much of the furniture, lamps, vases (a confessed weakness) and pictures in the house. Her devotion to various vintage websites – including Selency, Vinterior and Ceraudo – and to nearby Portobello Market and the antique shops on Golborne Road, as well as the twice-monthly antique market at Kempton Park, turned up many treasures. It is this tirelessly tracked-down assortment that adds depth to the interior and the suggestion of objects collected over many years – exactly what Pandora did not have.

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