Designer Yvonne Ellen reveals the inspirations behind her 'spare' room

The most popular room in Yvonne Ellen’s home is something of a Swiss Army Knife with walls. The illustrator and award-winning British designer moved from a flat with her family to a Victorian house in Crouch End, complete with garden, four years ago.

Having restructured the property, there was one room left upstairs that has taken on a role of all things to all people – part home office, guest bedroom, sitting room, children’s playroom – and it works harder than any other space.

‘This is the one and only spare room in our house and it gets used for everything and anything,’ says Yvonne, who is founder and creator of lifestyle brand Yvonne Ellen.

‘It became my studio during lockdown and I have a desk on the other side of the room. The sofa is a sofa bed, so we use it as a bedroom sometimes. It was important to make it kind of neutral, with elements that can be moved around.’

Yvonne has a strong passion for beautiful vintage bone china, gorgeous pastels and quirky illustrations. Having trained as a printed textile designer at Nottingham Trent University, her appreciation of print and pattern is clear to see within her designs, which channel vintage curios and the whimsical mid-century.

Some of Yvonne’s signature animals, with a floral trail, are even appearing on a Limited-Edition La Gioiosa Prosecco Rosé Millesimato to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

But even though she has a strong brand identity, Yvonne also believes in being able to adapt her style and embrace new trends.

She explains: ‘In my design work I look at lots of different trends, one month it might be pinks, then greens. 
I like to make things changeable so I can keep up with changing tastes.

‘It’s a difficult one. You want to have a strong brand identity. However, my taste changes over time, it changes in relation to what I am doing in my life. Everything constantly changes in London and I might see things while travelling that I haven’t seen before and think, “That’s amazing”. I am really open to change.’

She has been so busy renovating the Crouch End house, which has many original Victorian features – was it a bigger challenge, perhaps, than she’d anticipated? ‘It was tired,’ says Yvonne.

‘I redecorated every room and re-did all the floors. I should have loved it, but I did find it so stressful. I think you need so much time and I don’t have it, because I have my business all day, every day, so I didn’t love doing it as much as I should have.’

Using neutral elements has made Yvonne’s ‘spare’ room a calming space, while plenty of shelving and artworks mean its style and look can be easily changed. She has incorporated different textures, too, to make it feel warm and welcoming.

‘I like to keep it cosy-feeling because we spend so much time in there, I wanted it to be comfortable. I find pastels really calming. You can use a variety of tones and it makes for a relaxing space I think.’

Yvonne says it’s all too easy to designate one use to each room, in order to make designing it easier. But by using calming tones and features that can be moved around, there is no reason why a space can’t adapt to everyone and the needs of modern life.

‘I think that, when you haven’t got lots of rooms, it makes your life easier if you haven’t said, “This has one purpose”, adds Yvonne. ‘It’s great to have a room that is flexible.’

Hanging Shelving – The Round Dorm by Ferm Living

Yvonne says: ‘l love that I can mix up what I display on a regular basis.’

Buy it for £135 at Nest.

Parrot plate by Yvonne Ellen

‘Putting my favourite plates on the wall feels like hanging art,’ says Yvonne.

Buy it for £20 at Yvonne Ellen.

Naps Cushion by Yvonne Ellen

‘I really like having quirky items within my home to add a bit of fun.’

Buy it for £20 at Yvonne Ellen.

Sansa Narrow Arm Sofa Bed from John Lewis

‘This is really easy to change from a sofa to a bed.’

Buy it for £1,599 at John Lewis.

Set of three Hexagonal Side Tables by La Redoute

‘Perfect little tables to move around the room and use for a variety of things including photography, drinks and candles.’

Buy them for £259 at La Redoute.

Squares print by Tom Pigeon

‘A really nice way of injecting colour into the room.’ Exact print not available.

Buy this alternative, Sintra 1, for £65 from Tom Pigeon.

Wall paint – Farrow & Ball, Skimming Stone

‘This is the perfect grey tone to complement the coloured items I add to my room,’ says Yvonne.

Buy 2.5L of Estate Emulsion for £52, from Farrow & Ball.

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