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Inspiration of the Week: decorating with dark colours in a Victorian flat in south-east London

In our the first of a new series, Inigo gives a short and sharp shout-out to a recent listing that appeals to our architectural, historical or aesthetic aspirations. With such a bounty to choose from, the only challenge will be narrowing it down to one…

Inspiration of the Week: decorating with dark colours in a Victorian flat in south-east London

We’d like to kick things off with a trip to Trafalgar Avenue, a tree-lined street bracketing the eastern edge of Burgess Park in south London. Our listing, a one-bedroom flat on the raised ground floor of a row of Victorian terraced houses, is notable not only for its charming period features, but for its daring decorative schemes. Just look at the sitting room, which declares, in that inkiest of blues and in no uncertain terms, that colour is king.

This isn’t the first time we’ve extolled the virtues of eschewing brighter shades in favour of moody hues, but we’re struck by the boldness and beauty of this place. What the current owners have managed – with aplomb, we might add – is a careful balance. For every shadowy corner there’s a bright one; for every blue, a pink. Even its lighter rooms benefit from contrapuntal contrast. Take the bathroom, for instance, where walls the colour of coconut ice are in harmonious juxtaposition to steely tiles, their grey like concrete in the rain. In the bright kitchen, white walls meet their match in a pair of jet-black glazed doors.

Let’s talk about that sitting room, and that rich and resonant blue hue. As with all the other shades in the flat, it’s one of Farrow & Ball’s (eagle-eyed readers may recognise it from author Jane Mulvagh’s house in Kent) and it’s been used to coat not just the walls but the skirting and shutters too; to sit there is to be enveloped in a blanket of blue. Even the ceiling – in fact painted white – looks at points like it’s the colour of the sky, thanks to the light that bounces in from the large bay windows that overlook the street; west-facing, this room gets the best of the afternoon and evening sunshine.

The use of natural materials throughout the flat, from wooden furniture and surfaces to sisal underfoot, makes a warm – and quietly contemporary – counterpoint to its painted walls. And while of course we know that there’s an important place for pattern and print in the home, it’s the owners of Trafalgar Avenue’s commitment to pure colour that has transformed their home, elevating its décor into more of a livery – and a very fine one at that.

Trafalgar Avenue, London SE15

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