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Inspiration of the Week: how an east London townhouse became a romantic rus in urbe

Though it’s just a short walk from Dalston, this two-bedroom Victorian home has been elegantly countrified, becoming a beguilingly peaceful enclave in the city

Inspiration of the Week: how an east London townhouse became a romantic rus in urbe

Rus in urbe is the illusion, usually created consciously, of rurality in urban areas. The concept has existed almost as long as cities have, as parks and heathland, or as the farming enclaves of metropolitan monasteries, for instance. In more recent history, the Garden City movement placed this notion at the fore, expressing on a macro scale the idea that life in built-up areas need not mean concrete and crowdedness. But rus in urbe can be defined in more domestic terms too. Take Graham Road, in east London, which has recently come on the market. While outside all is buzz and bustling busyness, step into this pretty brick house and you’ll shrug off the city in a second.

The garden, of course, has something to do with it. Spacious, generously planted and shaded by mature trees, it feels especially private for London. But really, it’s the interiors of this place that lend it such a bucolic air. In part, this is thanks to the materials the current owners have chosen for the major – and meticulous – renovations they’ve done to the house in recent years.

We’re particularly drawn to the use of terracotta tiles underfoot. Sourced from the south of France, they bring a certain Provençal je ne sais quoi to the house, though their rich red tones and slight unevenness also remind us of the clay floors traditionally found in rural East Anglia too. In fact, reclaimed materials throughout – stone fireplaces, vintage fittings and bare wooden boards bought from Lassco – imbue the whole house with a farmhouse-y aura of which we’re fond.

Decoration-wise, however, Graham Road feels more refined rectory than rustic smallholding. Downstairs, this comes courtesy of handsome dark-brown furniture and charming chintzes – all eyes on the blowsy faded florals on the sitting room’s squishy sofa, and the verdant fronds of Colefax & Fowler’s ‘Kendal’ on a nearby buttoned chair. Upstairs, a bathroom has been papered in Morris & Co’s ‘Willow Boughs’. This huge space, fitted with reclaimed sanitary ware and with treetop views, feels markedly to the manor born. Meanwhile, throughout the house, the paint palette spans stylish shades of sand, dun and umber. It’s classy without feeling flash – the epitome of the country-house aesthetic. In fact, that could be said of the place as a whole. Who needs country when you’ve town as tremendous as this?

Graham Road, London E8

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