A Room of One’s Own: Violet Dent’s sultry blue ‘gentlemen’s’ laundry room
Years of laundry hanging here, there and everywhere while renting was enough to encourage Violet Dent, creative director of fashion and lifestyle brand Cabbages & Roses, to carve out a dedicated (if diminutive) space in her resplendently pink west London flat. A series of bolts from the blue have since followed – not least a new-found love for a more masculine, moody hue
- Sophie Sims
- Ellen Hancock
Within half an hour of ushering us into her apartment in west London, Violet Dent is busy, hanging up framed napkins. Hardly an inch in the Cabbages & Roses’ creative director’s home is bare – framed newspaper cuttings, vintage prints and drawings of the horticultural, sartorial and miscellaneous sort line every aspect. She later tells me that when Harry, her husband, comes home from work, there is always a new picture. Does he notice, I ask? “No, but today he’ll wonder, ‘Where’s the light switch gone?’ because I just hung those napkins over it.”
Violet’s home is filled with beautiful and wonderfully varied objects that are as useful as they are nice to look at (“I always see minimal houses and think, ‘This is wonderful!’ but I have too much stuff”). In many ways, it’s an exercise in Cabbages & Roses’ tagline of ‘living life beautifully’, something that informs the company’s delicate floral fabrics and vintage, feminine silhouettes. More than just a motto, this is a necessity in Violet’s home: when living in an apartment, you are aware of the need to “use every inch of it well,” she says.
This is, of course, particularly pertinent in Violet’s small laundry room. She and Harry moved into the apartment around five years ago (their daughter, Dolly, was born two years later). The apartment’s idiosyncratic layout meant this small room at the back of the flat was, as Violet puts it, “perfect for a laundry because it was just so weird – there were two bathrooms on this floor but only one bedroom.” It’s now a masterclass in the clever use of a small footprint, making the most of limited space with fitted cabinetry above and below, a Pulleymaid suspended from the ceiling, and a substantial work surface. A smart reimagining of the room means it can still double as a loo, too.
“None of the other flats we’d seen had space to carve out a laundry without devaluing the property, which just seemed a bit silly.” But years of propping up clothes horses in the living spaces of rented flats had begun to grate. “Before, when I’d wash knitwear, it would take three days for a chunky jumper to dry, hanging in our kitchen so would smell of whatever we’d eaten.”
A laundry as beautiful and useful as Violet’s seems fitting for the person at the helm of Cabbages & Roses’ creative output. Having taken up her current role in 2022, working alongside Kate Howells, the company’s managing director, Violet has, most recently, worked on her first solo collection for the brand. “I worked with the founder, Christina Strutt, for 10 years, the first five of which were in the shop and as her assistant, and the last five were as her co-designer. She was still very much the lead, but we would do everything together,” Violet states.
How does she feel now, having done it for the first time without Christina, who died in 2022? “It was terrifying,” she confesses, but adds that the support of the team has been indispensable: “When I’m getting a bit stuck, I can always say to the others, ‘Is this nice?’, and they’ll be honest with me about whether it’s right for our customers.”
I wonder, as Violet talks about Cabbages & Roses, who – if anyone – she consults when it comes to interiors. “I will ask people, but often it’s just to say it out loud. If I want to do something, I will do it anyway.” This isn’t to suggest there isn’t a considered methodology behind Violet’s decorative approach, though; for the first two years she and Harry lived here, the apartment was painted entirely white. “I liked living in the space first, seeing the light, assessing which colours work, figuring out how we used it and then working backwards. It’s not the most practical thing to do, but it’s a way of making sure that, when you do make decisions, you don’t have any regrets.”
Having a smaller space like the laundry room has encouraged Violet to experiment with a colour palette that goes beyond the rosy pinks that permeate the rest of the apartment. “It’s not particularly light in there, so painting it darker wasn’t going to affect it much and I wanted something cosy. You can go mad with colour in a small room.” There’s also something in the transient and functional nature of a laundry that emboldened Violet’s decisions: “It’s not as risky as in a living room, where you might sit in it all the time thinking, ‘I hate this colour,’” she says.
Happily, Violet is still fond of the blue: “It was fun, because it was out of my comfort zone to use this darker, more masculine style.” Violet worked with Paddy O’Donnell, a masterful colour consultant at Farrow & Ball, to decide on which shade to use. “I already had some vintage blue-framed sketches and the blue ‘Three-Inch Stripes’ linen from Cabbages & Roses. From there, we decided on a moody shade that reminded me of a gentleman’s downstairs bathroom.
“It’s been a wonderful room to have because we’ve naturally had a lot more laundry since Dolly was born. And you know what? She loves it in there. She’ll often pretend to do the washing.” Violet also says she’ll undoubtedly take forward the lessons learned from experimenting in here: “Now, every time I go into Dolly’s room, I think about how I wish the ceiling was wallpapered because the painted one in here has turned out so well.”
Above all else, “it’s so nice that no one’s going to get cross when you make changes to your space, unlike when you live in rentals. You could cover every inch in prints if you wanted to. Actually, in the laundry room, there are a few spaces that could still do with a few more pictures…”
Violet on Instagram
Cabbages & Roses on Instagram
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