Photography by Angus Williams

Published on March 23, 2021

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Custom Desk, Smooth Grooves Carpentry; Lamp, Sveg; Pot, Serax.

Sarah Stemp and her younger sister, Caroline, run their design firm, Sascal Studio, from their London apartment at a custom desk built for two. Inspired by antique spindle furniture yet illuminated by raffia lighting, the workspace perfectly embodies the siblings’ old-meets-new aesthetic. Thanks to a recent series of upgrades influenced by their childhood, the rest of the Victorian home follows suit.

Putting their signature spin on the space was surprisingly straightforward: Each sister pulled together a mood board for a room, then they swapped and edited the other’s work until they both felt equally represented by the design. “It took a few attempts to get just right, but we got there in the end,” says Sarah.

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Sofa, Camerich; Throw Pillows, Isobel Sippel; Paint, Farrow & Ball

Neither had to compromise when picking a color scheme for the living area, though. The room’s powder pink sofa and equally bubbly backdrop are the realization of a shared childhood dream. “Growing up, we knew we wanted to live on our own together one day, and we always talked about our future place having a soft pink room. Clearly that never changed,” says Sarah with a smile. 

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 Sisal Carpet, The Wicker Basket; Paint, Farrow & Ball.

Breaking up the blush bonanza is a collection of artwork that extends all the way down the adjoining hallway. It’s a masterful mix of genres that, again, was inspired by the past. “After our parents got married, they lived in New York and Tokyo before settling in London. They used their souvenirs to decorate, which made our childhood home feel really soulful,” explains Sarah.

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Throw Pillow, Birdie Fortescue; Blanket, Maison de Vacances; Paint, Farrow & Ball

When it came time to outfit their respective bedrooms, the ladies diverged—with a few caveats so the two spaces would feel cohesive: They would both install the same sisal carpet as in the corridor and stick to colors found in nature.

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Vintage linens, a pumpkin spice throw, and enveloping green walls serve as comforting counterpoints to the busy street just outside Sarah’s window. She grabbed a paintbrush for the other touches. Her DIY marbled headboard wears leftover samples, while the cabinetry is covered in a hand-done checkerboard wallpaper. “It took us a solid week to watercolor the whole thing,” says Sarah of the latter. “It’s a wink to this incredible black-and-white checkerboard couch our parents had when we were kids.”

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Headboard Upholstery, William Morris; Paint, Farrow & Ball

Their parents’ statement sofa sat in front of a flashy yellow wall, which Caroline nods to in her bedroom with a little help from Farrow & Ball. She doubled down on sentimentality by pairing her William Morris headboard with a gingham pillow that mimics the curtains that once hung in the family’s kitchen.

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Pendant Lamps, H&M; Paint, Farrow & Ball

In their cooking space, a hand-me-down clock is joined by minty-fresh cabinets and retro bamboo shelving, yet another example of the designers’ knack for making multiple styles feel melodic. Mom and Dad taught them well.

The Goods

Go-to local vintage shops: Kempton Market, Spitalfields Market, and Northcote Road Antiques Market are great. So are Sauce LDN and Beton Brut.

Bookmarked home sites: Instagram. Some of our favorite accounts are Max Keys and Barker and Churcher.

Fabric store we can’t get enough of: Simply Fabrics in Brixton.

Most affordable thing in our home that gives us the most joy: The embroidered tapestry in the hallway that we got from Portobello Market and stretched over a huge canvas. Every time we walk past it, we’re amazed by the colors and fine detailing.

This pattern in our home is so us: Checkerboard!

Who to Know

Nicest contractor we’ve ever met: Smith and Williams Construction.

Carpenter who can do no wrong: Smooth Grooves Carpentry made our bobbin shelves, and we’ve worked with the company on a number of other projects. It can be reached at 44-20-8117-4290.

Our Winter Renovation issue is here! Subscribe now to step inside Leanne Ford’s latest project—her own historic Pennsylvania home. Plus discover our new rules of reno.

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