A Textile Designer’s Home Is Unapologetically Colorful

By Diana Budds / Published by Dwell

Orla Kiely furnishes her renovated Victorian house with her signature prints.

Like her line of fashion, housewares, and furniture, Irish-born designer Orla Kiely’s four-story, 3,000-square-foot home in southwestern London, is vibrant, warm, and layered with pattern and color. "I know what I like and what works for me," she says.

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Textile designer Orla Kiely’s renovated London Terrace House is punctuated by her distinctive palette and motifs.

The interiors could be none other than Kiely’s—nearly every room is festooned with her signature prints—yet it’s more than just a one-note samba, thanks to her careful consideration of how each element plays off the others. Kiely honed her eye studying textile design at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin and knitwear design at the Royal College of Art in London. In 1997, she established her eponymous company. Now her pieces are available at retailers like HD Buttercup, Target, Nordstrom, and Anthropologie.

Light My Fire

"I didn’t want to compromise the Victorian nature of the house," she says. Although the original fireplace was in good shape, the flooring needed to be replaced. Kiely didn’t want to use new wood, so she sourced the weathered ebony-colored boards from an architectural salvage yard. "I wanted the floors to really feel like they were part of the house," she says. Kiely found the rug at Heal’s and the chandelier and art are vintage.

Alongside designer Susan Minter and architect Maxim Laroussi, Kiely gently recast the house while keeping the original detailing intact, including the moldings, ceiling roses, and bay windows. "It’s a Victorian house, and we didn’t want to make it into something else," she says. The team removed walls, clad surfaces, replaced flooring, and incorporated bespoke furnishings of Kiely’s own design. "Sometimes you have people who say, ‘I don’t want to live in my work,’ but, in the end, I love what I do and how it looks—so I’m happy to have it."

Sitting Pretty

The ground floor was originally two rooms; now it’s been transformed into one continuous space. To compensate for a low ceiling, Kiely’s team dug into the ground to create a true sunken seating section leading to the garden. Built-in sofas, an Eames rocker, a stool by G Plan, and concrete tiles outfit the space. Kiely chose a neutral charcoal finish for the Malm fireplace to balance the green linoleum floor and her own Rhododendron wallpaper in Sunflower.

Kitchen Confidential

Kiely and architect Maxim Laroussi designed the kitchen unit. "I originally didn’t want an island, but I liked what we did because it feels like a piece of furniture. It’s cozy to cook around," Kiely says. Panels of orange and olive Formica accent the 1950s-inspired piece, which houses a cooktop by Smeg. A checkerboard of closed cabinets and open shelves offers storage against the far wall for Kiely’s collection of dishes, knickknacks, cookbooks, and small appliances, like the KitchenAid stand mixer and radio by Vita Audio. The floor is green Marmoleum, selected because it feels warm underfoot. Kiely’s own Stem dish towels and ceramic storage jars add more lively color to the room.

Home of the Brave

In the ground-floor eating area, the design team wrapped the walls in rich walnut to instill warmth often found in mid-century homes. "Sometimes one bold move is enough. Be brave with fewer statements," Kiely advises. "Go for the big thing rather than lots of little things." Kiely’s Upholstered Dining Chairs from her House collection surround a Danish vintage dining table. Her Gloss vases adorn the hallway console, which is also from her House line.

A one-room retreat outside Providence, Rhode Island, takes up no more space than a standard two-car garage.