x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Home of the Week: in a country of neutrals, a shock of 'Indian navy'

Cultural influences collected over a lifetime give this colourful, country cottage-style home in the middle of London a rock-chick edge.

Hanging mobiles and lots of toys contibute to the fun environment in which Nat says she wants to raise her son.
Hanging mobiles and lots of toys contibute to the fun environment in which Nat says she wants to raise her son.

Global fusion is a term more often used in connection with food, but inside the designer Nat Robinson's London house, it's easy to see why she uses it to describe her look. She clearly doesn't belong to the "less is more" school of decorating. Her Victorian terrace bursts with colour.

"My parents have lived in the Middle East for seven years, so I have a real feel for that kind of look," Nat says. "I also just love colour so it seems perfectly natural to me to create an environment that reflects that."

Diana Vreeland famously said shocking pink was the navy blue of India, and it's true to say that an obsession with "ghastly good taste", muted colours and restrained interiors seems to be a northern and predominantly European trait.

But the home Nat shares with husband, Nick, her son, Harry, and Barney the beagle is a refreshing surprise in an area where white, taupe and beige rule. She has managed to create a beguiling mixture of country cottage and rock-chick chic.

She obviously loves bright pink and she has cleverly pulled together all sorts of disparate items and "clashing" colours.

Together with her friend Lulu McEvoy, Nat runs the online home and lifestyle accessories boutique Lulu & Nat. The company was set up in 2008, shortly after McEvoy moved to Mumbai, where she is still based. The website sells a gorgeous collection of bed linen, embellished cushions, throws and wall hangings, all hand printed and embroidered in India.

Marked by vibrant colours and dynamic patterns, the modern, exotic collection easily reflects Nat's influence.

The friends planned to start out small with their business, initially selling a limited range of block-printed items, but its stock can now be seen in prestigious London stores such as Designers Guild, SCP and Liberty, and the Parisian designer childrenswear shop Bonton.

Nat uses trips abroad to source new pieces for the house. The balloon light in Harry's nursery came from a St Tropez market and she found the tablecloths that do duty as bedspreads in a souq in Qatar. "I spend a lot of time at home," Nat says, "so it's important for me that the house looks lovely. I also think that it's important for Harry to grow up in a house that's fun."

It's fair to say Nat's look is girlie. "Women all love my house," she says. But how does her husband feel? "I think that he just has blinkers on now," she says ruefully.

Nat admits that all her cupboards are chock-a-block with her finds, including a new set of mugs that she bought recently in St Tropez. "I keep thinking that there is no more room to fit anything in, but it's amazing how you can always find a space for new bits and pieces."

To allow for the riotous mixture of fabrics, colours and textures, Nat has kept the window treatments to a minimum. The sitting room and kitchen feature cream-painted wooden shutters and the paintwork, walls and floors throughout are uniformly plain. Not only does this provide a little rest for the eye, but it also provides the perfect backdrop for showing off Nat's treasures to their best advantage. The Union Jack wall hanging from The Rug Company, for example, makes a dramatic statement above the sitting room sofas.

"I'm not a fan of everything being too 'matchy matchy'," Nat says. "And one of the huge benefits - and anyone with a small child will recognise this - is that it's not the end of the world if something gets broken or spoilt. I can always find another piece that will fit in."