The evolution of a Camden town house

PUBLISHED: 11:50 04 November 2016 | UPDATED: 11:59 10 November 2016

Photographer Christina Wilson at home in Camden Town

Photographer Christina Wilson at home in Camden Town

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

A piecemeal approach to interior decorating combined with a skilful eye have helped photographer Christina Wilson balance character and style in her family home in Camden, which she shares with her husband, broadcaster Robert Elms, and the youngest of their three children.

The kitchen. Photo: Christina Wilson The kitchen. Photo: Christina Wilson

“I like living with things, I like collecting things, I don’t like the house looking like an empty show flat,” says photographer, former interior stylist and now author, Christina Wilson.

We’re sitting in the kitchen of her Camden townhouse and there are subtle signs of this collector’s instinct all around, in the art works on the walls and the crockery and glass on the shelves but the overriding impression is of contemporary calm rather than clutter.

From the wide tiles on the floor, to the chalky pale neutrals of the walls and the bare wood of the long kitchen tables, there’s a cool, modern feel to the open plan basement space. I wonder how recently they did it up.

“We’ve been in this house for 22 years and I’ve never done a huge renovation on it. Where we’ve changed things it’s been because we’ve been upgrading or repairing them through wear and tear. Or, because the children have grown up in this house, and the youngest is now 17, some of the rooms have changed. My office used to be a play room.”

Collected objects and a vintage chair in the bedroom. Photo: Christina Wilson Collected objects and a vintage chair in the bedroom. Photo: Christina Wilson

There are many lessons in decorative longevity to be learned from Wilson’s home, which she shares with journalist Robert Elms, who has a daily show on BBC London, and the couple’s youngest daughter – they have a 20-year-old son currently at university and a 26-year-old daughter living in London. The big lesson comes from the kitchen where everything is free standing, meaning it can be replaced easily and hasn’t dated in the way that some of the ‘bespoke’ fitted options that are so popular at the moment tend to.

“I never wanted a built-in kitchen. When we had no money it just got thrown together. Then, over the years I upgraded a few things,” explains Wilson.

“I always wanted a food cupboard that had shelves and drawers but those things cost money, so in the beginning I had something from Habitat that cost £300. Now I’ve got this new unit with all the shelves I wanted.

“Because I was a stylist I used to rent it as a location and that paid for the jobs. It’s evolved but I feel like it doesn’t age.”

The bathroom leading out to the terrace. Photo: Christina Wilson The bathroom leading out to the terrace. Photo: Christina Wilson

A smart mix of contemporary, vintage and antique furniture and accessories helps create this trend-defying aesthetic. There’s a marble topped rolling pin table in one corner and the dining table is a battered vintage number that Wilson said she “didn’t mind getting bashed by kids.” Then there’s a newly purchased and very of the moment mid-century sideboard, filled with tea sets.

Art is also a key feature throughout the house with Wilson’s photographs featuring heavily, of course, alongside early works by artists who have since hit the big time, among them several Rob Ryan lasercuts and a large Harland Miller Penguin books painting in the living room.

“We’ll often have artists to stay in our house in Spain and I really like supporting small artists so I’ll just ask for an artwork in return. It’s how I’ve collected a lot of bits of art.”

Those bits include a painting of the southern Spanish village where the house is situated by none other than The Clash bassist Paul Simonon.

The glass-backed living room. Photo: Christina Wilson The glass-backed living room. Photo: Christina Wilson

Wilson downplays any effort that goes into the house, but having spent years working as an interiors stylist at Elle Decoration, as well as time at the helm of an art gallery in the 1980s and a flirtation with fashion, it stands to reason she has a well-honed eye for detail.

It’s this eye that’s been brought into focus in her new book, a collection of Wilson’s photography with words by Elms, released in an edition of 200.

Titled Stolen Glimpses, the book is exactly that, a series of fleeting moments captured over the decade Wilson has been working as a photographer, on holidays, at home and at the family’s house in Spain.

“I’ve always wanted to put together a book because I’ve worked on so many books for other people but they weren’t my pictures,” she explains. “I felt that as my children are getting older it was like a memento to our whole family.”

Robert's office. Photo: Christina Wilson Robert's office. Photo: Christina Wilson

“I’m always looking for the beauty in every day, rather than waking up depressed with the news. It could be anything, a night sky, windswept trees, I love the graphic quality of things.

“One lady said that the book was so beautiful it made her cry. I was really touched.”

Buy Christina Wilson’s book Stolen Glimpses, £50, from her website christinawilson.co.uk or at the Society Club thesocietyclub.com which is also exhibiting a selection of Wilson’s photographs until November 17.

Property search

e.g. Oxford or NW3
Powered by Zoopla

Other Hampstead and Highgate property news

5 issues landlords should consider in 2018

2017 saw a number of changes made to regulations governing the private rented sector and a record number of government consultations held in relation to letting in the UK, meaning there is plenty for landlords to consider and act upon in the new year.

Three great properties for sale in Little Venice

Grand stucco-fronted houses and large Georgian and Victorian brick constructions line the wide streets of Little Venice, whilst charming mews houses can be found on the cobbled street of Bristol Gardens. For the ultimate canalside location nothing can beat a narrow boat.

Little Venice area guide: Canalside lifestyle, cafés and bars, shopping, property and more

Your guide to all the things to do in Little Venice, including the best restaurants, shops, pubs, schools and things to do by the canal. PLUS our guide to property in the area

New two and three-bedroom homes in Hampstead reflect Arts and Craft architecture of area

Thirty nine new two and three-bedroom homes, influenced by the Arts and Crafts architecture of the area, have been launched in Hampstead.

Comment: How to set the asking price for your property

Simon Gerrard, MD of north London estate agents, Martyn Gerrard, offers advice on pricing your house to achieve the best possible result

What you should know about inheriting property

There’s much to consider when inheriting property, writes Fiona Brandhorst

Camden area guide: Market, food & drink, entertainment, property and more

Your guide to all the things to do in Camden Town, including the best restaurants, shops, pubs, live music venues and Camden Lock Market. PLUS our guide to property in the area

Home of the week: Regency villa in picturesque Downshire Hill

Situated on the prized and picturesque Downshire Hill, this early 19th century Grade II-listed Regency villa is on the preferred south side of the road.

Comment: They call me the House Whisperer

Trevor Abrahmsohn, managing director of north London agents, Glentree Estates, writes about his special skills for closing a deal, which, he says, include “psychotherapy, extreme cajoling and applied salesmanship”. We’re intrigued...

How best to clear your unwanted junk

Richard Burr reveals how to clear your clutter.

Do it yourself! Great short and part-time courses in DIY, interior design, carpentry and more

With a whole new year stretching ahead of you, instead of making resolutions and not sticking to them, why not pick a fresh interest which will not only hold your attention, stimulate your creativity and keep your mind active, but improve your home, too.

What’s in store for the housing market in 2018 and how it will affect house prices, mortgages and first-time buyers

If you’re considering whether to move home this year, Ella Walker looks at potentially the main influences on house prices in London and further afield, and how they may affect buying and selling.

10 gardening trends set to blossom in 2018

These are the themes and plants predicted to dominate in the coming 12 months, writes Hannah Stephenson.

How to brick up a window like a pro

Being a brickie isn’t easy. Richard Burr reveals how to master the moves.

It’s time to get your home back in order after the festive season, but where do you dispose of your Christmas tree? We offer 3 recycling tips.

Festive season is in full flow, but soon it will be time to think about ditching the decorations and making more space for your home once again. But how should you dispose of your tree?

Comment: Stamp duty rises may be hitting more than just the property market

Are the stamp duty hikes doing more harm to the UK economy than just strangling the residential property market, asks Glentree Estates director Trevor Abrahmsohn

Landlord offers two-bedroom flat in King’s Cross to homeless for free over Christmas

Laurence Lameche, who now runs a property business but was formerly homeless himself, is looking for a single person, couple or family in need of somewhere to stay during the festive period

For sale: Highgate Mansion formerly home to Nobel Prize winner

An exceptionally restored Victorian mansion that was formerly home to a Nobel Prize winner is now on the market on Bishopswood Road, Highgate.

London design agency Studio Carver’s extensions in Belsize Park shortlisted for architecture awards

When Keith Carver, founder of design and architecture practice Studio Carver, was asked by a couple to help them realise a dream project for their retirement, he immediately saw the potential.

Average asking prices rise 19.2 per cent across borough of Camden

The borough of Camden bucked a trend of falling house prices across London in 2017, according to new statistics published by Rightmove.

How to insulate your own loft

Cold, isn’t it? The days have got shorter, summer feels a long way away, the sofa seems comfier - and the last thing you want to do is go outside and do more DIY (unless you absolutely have to).

Home of the week: Arts and Crafts style house in Hampstead

A spectacular interior designed Arts & Crafts style house, built circa 1905 for the artist Samuel Fry, a Royal Academy exhibitor

Alexandra Palace area guide: the hills, the houses and hunting for a bargain

Your guide to things to do in Alexandra Palace, including the best shops, cafes, restaurants and schools. PLUS our guide to property in N22

Comment: What’s in store for 2018?

Trevor Abrahmsohn, managing director of estate agents, Glentree International, offers his predictions for 2018 on everything from property to the World Cup

Primrose Hill family selling historic home after more than 60 Christmases

Originally constructed by renowned Victorian builder William Willett, the seven bedroom house, in Primrose Hill, is now on the market for £15,000,000

North London extensions shortlisted for top design award

Two north London extensions have been shortlisted as among London’s best and most innovative home improvements.

Three table setting themes to inspire you this Christmas

Gabrielle Fagan reveals how to create a Christmas table that’s a feast for the eyes

How to grow your own garlic

If you’re finding that shop-bought garlic doesn’t have the intense flavour you require, then it’s time to start growing your own, which will give you more choice and more flavour.

London house prices now a record 14.5 times higher than average income, figures show

Average house prices reached £496,000 and average earnings were £34,200 in London this year, yet a north London agent says the comparison is not an accurate representation of the capital’s property market

Decor experts Rockett St George reveal their recipe for stunning style

Jane Rockett Lucy St George share their vision for imaginative, inviting interiors with Gabrielle Fagan

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

2018 © Archant Community Media Ltd

Terms and conditions | Cookie policy | Jobs at Archant