Designer Living: Ella Doran's niche in London's creative enclave

The wallpaper and home accessories designer on clutter, colour and sunshine.
Ella Doran lives in a converted school gymnasium building.
Ella Doran lives in a converted school gymnasium building.

Where do you live and how long have you lived there?

I've lived in Hackney, east London, for 15 years. I love this area because anything goes. Recently it's got a bit trendy, but there's always so much going on here and I thrive on change.

There are so many designers and artists in this corner of the city. It's got a really creative vibe. I've heard it described as "crunchy", which sounds odd but is quite a good adjective to describe it, actually.

What's your home like?

We live in a converted old school gymnasium building, which only has three bedrooms but feels spacious because of the lovely high ceilings.

What made you choose the property?

I fell in love with the open-plan kitchen-diner; it's the hub of the home. Although it's important to have rooms where you can be alone sometimes, I think having an open-plan living area helps to create a real sense of family. Everybody shares the same space and we always sit down to eat dinner together in the evenings.

What does your home say about you?

It's a colourful, eclectic environment and a real family home. I have young children, so kids' clutter has accumulated over the past few years and we need to have a bit of a revamp to get our storage sorted out. My husband, Simon, is a sound engineer and musician, so he has hundreds of vinyl records stacked up and guitars everywhere.

What item can't you live without?

I've got a beautiful piece of art that I've really grown to love. It's a paper work by Sam Aloof, and it's my favourite possession.

Where do you like to shop for pieces for your home?

There's a fabulous little shop in London called Caravan. It's run by the stylist Emily Chalmers, who sells all sorts of gorgeous pieces of furniture and home accessories. I also like Liberty - it celebrates the best of British design and you never know what you're going to discover when you pop in. When I'm in Paris, I always pay a visit to Merci. I love that place.

Do you incorporate elements of your work into your home, or do you like to keep your domestic environment separate?

I've incorporated a few of my designs into our home - I've been experimenting with my wallpapers recently. The patterns are so powerful. I've only papered a door and an alcove so far, but just a small panel can change the look of a whole room.

What are you working on right now?

I've just completed a really fulfilling project, designing bay curtains and cabinets for the Royal London Hospital's paediatric ward. It's a very different kind of design project to what I've done before and I've enjoyed pushing the boundaries of what's possible with a limited budget. It's been so rewarding to create an environment where people can heal. This project has such purpose, beyond just creating something beautiful.

I'd like to do more work like this in the future. If you're a creative person, you tend not to want to stand still for long. You continually want to try new things and move forward.

Who or what is influencing you at the moment?

I'm particularly inspired by the designer Thomas Heatherwick; his projects are so thought-provoking. I'm really interested in architecture at the moment, too.

How would you describe your interior style?

My look is bold, modern, colourful and bright.

How do you like to relax?

In the sunshine, somewhere warm. This year, we're off to Spain.

What is the best way to simply and instantly update a room?

Painting a wall can change the mood of a room cheaply and quickly; colour can make such an impact. We have a long corridor with lots of doors off it, and I'm planning to paint them all different colours and use different door knobs on each one. But you don't have to redecorate to update your look; just rearranging all your furniture to change the orientation of a room can dramatically alter the feel of a space.

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Published: July 14, 2011 04:00 AM


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