At Home With: Alice Palmer

With a love for bold earthy shades and eye-catching prints, this lampshade designer has styled her family home with colour and pattern.

Alice says she loves the freedom of being able to put her stamp on a property without any restrictions that might come with its architectural style, which is handy because before she put an offer in on her north London home, she assumed it was built in the 1930s. “It has that look from the front,” she tells me. But once inside she could see that it had the grand ceiling height of an earlier Edwardian property. While the high ceilings made an impression, Alice soon set about reconfiguring the floor plan to suit the needs of her growing family, and admits she was prepared to sacrifice some characterful period features for a more liveable space. Six years later and the three-bed property is now a spacious four-bed with a wonderfully open and inviting feel.

“I gutted the whole thing when I bought it and redesigned all the windows at the back, so once you’re inside it gives a totally different feel,” she says. “I did a rear extension and loft conversion, making the loft the master suite with an en suite bathroom and small dressing room. On the ground floor I kept the sitting room at the front separate – I love being able to close this off when the children are watching TV or playing in there – and I opened up the back to become one big kitchen/living room, which leads out to the garden.”

At Home With Alice Palmer

Conversely, Alice’s home is nothing if not characterful, and the moment you step inside you realise this is the house of a creative – with colour, pattern and textural interest at every turn. “I love colour and pattern, the more the merrier in my opinion! I try to inject colour into all of my rooms, I tend to lean towards strong, earthy colours – I’ve kept the walls fairly neutral and added accents of colour through painting the woodwork,” she says. “I was more adventurous in the children’s rooms, painting flag motifs on the walls and stripes on the ceilings… Pattern, I tend to add more through layers of soft furnishings, with my lampshades and cushions, as well as fabrics I have picked up when travelling.” The property acts as the perfect showroom for the designer’s lampshade collection, of which there are plenty of the playful, skirted pieces dotted around – the trio ceiling-hung in the kitchen make for a cheery, unexpected twist.

At Home With Alice Palmer

Alice opened up the back of the house to create a big kitchen/living space. The Hundi lamp above the table is a favourite treasure from Alice’s travel

Similarly pattern-rich soft furnishings are layered up to give the house its cosy, homely feel, with rugs and table cloths and scatter cushions in abundance, and in every room. But despite this, the house never feels cluttered and there’s a sense of serenity and calm throughout, even with all the colour and pattern. Of course, this is about finding the perfect balance, which evidently comes naturally to Alice. Here, brightly painted vintage pieces pop out against calming neutral walls, while houseplants big and small are flanked with bold stripes and vibrant hues to bring a pleasing contrast – you can always rely on Mother Nature to turn a room tranquil. I wonder if Alice has noticed an uplift in clients experimenting more with bold prints and colourful accessories. “I do think people are getting a lot bolder with colour,” she says,

At Home With Alice Palmer

Pattern-rich soft furnishings lend the space a homely feel

“I would say mainly thanks to Pinterest and Instagram. There are so many fab interior images now available, which give information on which paint colours they’ve used and so on, so I think people who are nervous about envisaging a colour are maybe a bit more daring than before… A good wallpaper is always such a nice touch in a room, I am planning on wallpapering my hall and the ceiling to match when our new wallpaper launches.”

The designer is about to embark on a trip to Delhi and Jaipur to finalise some new fabric designs, which she says is really exciting. In fact, travel features heavily in Alice’s life, both at work and at home, and her abode wouldn’t have its attractive, eclectic feel without her collection of interesting global finds, such as the huge green Hundi lamp, which hangs prominently above her rustic dining table. “I’m particularly fond of it,” she says. “Travel features massively in my décor. I’m hugely inspired by places I travel to and love the idea of bringing the colours and culture back to my home so I can enjoy them daily.” And the objects brought back from far flung places work so well with Alice’s mix of vintage treasures, antique finds and contemporary luxe furniture pieces, too. “I like to mix and match my furniture,” she says. “Upcycling is great, so eBay, Vinterior and antique markets like Sunbury, Chiswick car boot, Ardingly, and Lots Road are always good for that. OKA is great for staple pieces, I also love the loose covered instant tables you can get from The Dormy House, which give a classic feel, but can be made contemporary with a pretty fabric.”

At home with Alice Palmer

Visual art, too, has a big role in the house, bringing vibrant colour and interest to the walls, of which none are left bare. “My favourite piece of art is the portrait of my three children by the artist Leonie Gibbs,” Alice reveals. “She has got an amazing eye and paints expressive, colourful and fabulous oil paintings.” Given the designer’s magpie-like approach to collecting, I wonder if she had a clear vision for the house from the get-go, or as I suspect, the look grew more organically over time, and will never really be finished. She confirms: “I designed the shell of the house and then moved into a fairly blank canvas. As I lived in it, I slowly added layers bit by bit, painting a hallway or adding a cupboard here and there… There’s nothing I love more than being creative in my own home and there is a never-ending list of things I want to add!”

At Home With Alice Palmer