Rebekah Caudwell likes to break a few rules. ‘Because sometimes that’s how you have the most fun,’ she explains. Indeed, beyond the austere facade of the Georgian townhouse she shares with husband Nick Dupart, nothing is as expected, and the pervading mood is both joyous and energetic.
Her vision for their home, in London’s historic Bloomsbury, kicks off in the flagstoned entrance hall, where a wall crosshatched with vivid bolts of magenta, turquoise and yellow is offset by peachy chairs. ‘I wanted an element of surprise as you walk in,’ she says. But there’s nothing impetuous about this look – it’s a thoughtful, informed rewrite of a classicism that Rebekah is well versed in. Her English degree, teaching the history of art in Italy and early interior design jobs that were ‘steeped in antiques’ gave her a solid grounding in doing things by the book. ‘After all,’ she says, ‘you have to know the rules before you can break them.’
And then there’s the American influence. Rebekah and US-born Nick met seven years ago and now divide their time between New York and London. But while Rebekah grew up with antiques and formal aesthetics, Nick was raised on modernism in the white light of Los Angeles. ‘Nick helped drag me out of centuries past and got me into mid-century design,’ says Rebekah. ‘In return, I converted him to colour.’
Rebekah’s skill lies in taking risks – mixing old with new, brights with neutrals – and creating something that’s both classic and fresh. So in a favourite corner of their living room, the poise of a Vermeer print is balanced by an Italian Fifties chair in citrus yellow, while tall windows are swathed in a Pierre Frey tropical fabric that could be straight out of a Slim Aarons print.
Indeed, this Georgian house, with its original features intact, provides the proportions and space to let Rebekah’s style shine through. It came with rooms decked out in nondescript beiges while the wooden floors were stained an alarmingly bright shade. ‘It was ripe for us to start over,’ says Rebekah.
First off, they threw out the polite greys and taupes, sanded back the floorboards, then dipped into a palette of sun-soaked turquoise, teal and greens, and combined high-end pieces with good value and vintage items. And if these combinations throw up some surprises, all the better. ‘I like colours and configurations that jangle just enough to wake you up and make you think,’ Rebekah confirms with a smile. In this bright, invigorating home, that’s certainly the case.
If you have a strong theme running through your home – either in terms of colour or style – make it clear from the outset, as is done here in the entrance hall. ‘I instantly loved the dynamic harlequin blocks of colour in this wallpaper,’ explains Rebekah. ‘It sets the mood for the whole house.’