House Call: London's Accidental Decorator
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London decorator Adam Bray started life as an antiques dealer. Breaking away from the trend of specializing in one particular genre, his shop on Ledbury Road was a treasure trove of midcentury delights and rare textiles gathered on his travels. Bray’s humor and charm attracted a star-studded clientele including Donna Karan, Lucien Freud, and Anish Kapoor, and his eye for color earned him his first commission when a client asked him to color consult on an interiors project. Bray’s skill with color led to a collection with the London-based paint company Papers & Paints . “I got very jaded with the fashion for ‘period’ colors and wanted to explore colors that weren’t so rigid,” he explains, “I’m inspired by creating rooms with eclectic furnishings, so I wanted to make a collection of colors that aren’t so easily defined.” His home-cum-studio, the ground floor apartment of a Georgian villa in West London, is painted in his own colors and is bursting with textiles both old and new—the gems he couldn’t bear to part with along the way, and samples from his new collection of linens, ticking stripes, and patterned velvets for the fabric house Tissus d’Hélène . Unless otherwise noted, photography by Anthony Crolla . Above: “I’ve always bought paint from Papers & Paints and adapted them by altering the tones, which is how this color Greville came about," Bray says. "It’s a great canvas for all the disparate elements in the room.” Bray had the purple lacquer table top custom made to fit on two antique French trestles. Above: Bray mixes patterns and textiles with the cushions on his sofa. He had the floor cushion made using Indian block-printed indigo fabric bought in a flea market in Greece. The cushion was bought from Van der Hurd , the sofa is covered in an 18th-century style damask, and the antique Kente cloth is from Adam’s archive. Above: “I love these woven rush Touareg tent carpets for their bold graphic patterns, and I often change the fabric on the table to mix things up,” Bray enthuses. The curtains are made from a Bennison ticking and the dressing gown is 19th-century Syrian silk. Above L: “I love the painted Noguchi table lanterns, but since they don’t do ceiling lights I decided to do it myself with the help of my friend India Jane Birley,” Bray says. Photograph by Christine Chang Hanway. Above R: Bray used to have antique French linen bed sheets hand-dyed, but as they were becoming harder to come by, he sent his favorites to a specialist linen weaver in Scotland who faithfully translated them into what is now his Hand Dyed Linen Collection . Above: The tablecloth is a panel of provincial Italian embroidered linen circa 1810 and the lilacs are fresh from Bray’s garden. Above L: The vignette of objects on the kitchen shelves include a personalized Ikea clock by veteran art director Willie Landels, pictures of his two sons, and an Alessi coffee pot. Above R: A 1950s striped African cloth bought from an antique dealer in Paris inspired Bray’s Fela Ticking Stripe Fabric. “It looked like the craziest French ticking, so I adapted the colors and had it rewoven by a specialist," Bray says. Photography by Camilla Belton. Above: The Ikoku wood bath was custom made, and Bray used basic green mosaic tiles and a wall-to-wall mirror to maximize the tiny space. Above: The wall hanging is a Japanese Boro cloth from a collection Bray has put together over ten years. The Union Jack is Victorian and the collection of sea shells and coral was found inside a 19th-century chest of drawers bought at auction. Above: A sketch of New York on an envelope sits in front of a Venezuelan basket. Above: "My working day starts very early, before the phone starts ringing and emails start rolling in,” Bray says. The vintage industrial Dexion shelving holds part of his archive of design books, as well as boxes of fabric and carpet samples housed in storage boxes from G. Ryder & Sons . Above: Bray’s Mohair Velvets are available in 11 colors, but also in a range of Custom-Printed Velvet Gauffrage Patterns— an ancient process involving steam and pressure to flatten the pile and impress the designs. The nine designs can be applied to Bray’s linen as well as his velvets. Looking for more ideas? London has a surplus of wonderful and personality-laden shops. See City Guides—London for some of our favorites.