“How I used my love of vintage and antiques to create a maximalist family home”

Written by Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a senior digital writer for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about homeware (particularly candles), travel, food trends, restaurants and all the wonderful things London has to offer.

Calling all maximalists and vintage fiends, you’re going to want to recreate every detail of this stylish family home.

It only takes a moment of looking at Tara Allison’s renovation account, Stokey Abode, to recognise this as the work of a person with a history of design.

Interesting colour palettes, thoughtfully picked accessories, an impressive selection of vintage gems and just-so art work; it’s a masterclass in mindful maximalism.

And indeed, Tara has 25 years of experience in fashion as a designer and head of design, and has recently side-stepped into the world of interiors. So, it makes sense that she’s created a home which is brimming with personality, colour and style.

“I was pregnant with our fifth child when we started looking for a large-ish family home in Hackney. While I had, maybe naively, been hoping for a complete do up space with lots of quirks and potential, my husband had something with less grief in mind,” Tara explains to Stylist.co.uk.

“In the end we met in the middle and landed on our current home; a large end-of-terrace period property. I was drawn to the unusual layout which gives it bundles of character. We only got the keys two months before I gave birth so timings were tight, however, sheer optimism, a strong vision and a lot of antique finds later we were on the road to achieving the home we had dreamed of.”




What was your biggest source of decor inspiration?

“The house aesthetic is pretty eclectic. It’s mostly driven from my love of vintage homeware and a background in fashion. I am also an antique fair devotee; from my local haunts at Alexandra Palace to renown fairs such as Kempton – so this plays a big part, too.

“If I can’t get to a fair in the flesh, my favourite online antique sites include Ebay, Etsy, Selency and even Facebook Marketplace. They’re all dangerously only a few clicks away! I love shopping from lots of different eras and definitely go through phases of obsessing about a particular style, piece, colour or look within vintage homeware and textiles. The fun part is then getting it all to work together.”

Which DIY hack are you most proud of?

“I’m not amazing at DIY, but I have a good idea of construction and so I like re-purposing vintage and salvage pieces. I’m also lucky to have a good handyman and electrician who enjoy a challenge.

“The piece I’m most proud of transforming is a trio of marbled globes that I tok from an old 80s ceiling light that I found in a charity shop, that I re-worked as a modern pendants which now hang in our bedroom.”




What part of your renovation was the biggest challenge?

“The stairs needed the most work. After we ripped out the glorious red carpet it revealed stairs that were wonderful, but also seriously unsafe and uneven.It was nearly a week of sanding each stair, banister and spindal before painting them in Railings by Farrow and Ball. 

“We went one step further and accessorised the staircase with a gorgeous houndstooth monochrome runner by Hartley Tissier, which is offset beautifully against the dark staircase. Thankfully I had my friend, the lovely @manuinteriors on hand to advise along the way! One of the next projects is designing the hallway and picking wall colours to compliment the monochrome stairs.”

Which is your favourite room and why?

“It would have to be our pink loo because it is so unapologetically pink in a house full of boys! The top-to-toe Bert and May tiles are so gorgeous up close with an uneven handmade finish.”




Tara’s favourite interiors follows:

  • Beata Heuman

    “Beata is one of my favourite interior designers. Every room she works her magic on simply ‘sings’. 

    “It’s so refreshing to have someone like her bringing a fun playfulness to the interiors industry.”

    Follow now

  • Clare O’Connell

    “This is a small newish account highlighting the best interiors shots on Insta. Clare’s eye for styling and colour is second to none!”

    Follow now

  • Athena Calderone

    “I’m not a minimalist, despite my efforts, however I can appreciate from afar the gorgeous Athena Calderone’s eye for detail and perfectionism!”

    Follow now

Tara’s go-to homeware brands:

  • Ottoline

    Ottoline

    “Their prints are just stunning. They are perfect for injectinga bit of fun into your interiors, either with their wallpaper or upholstery fabric.”

    Shop library red lampshade at Ottoline, £90

    Buy now

  • Vaisselle

    Vaiselle

    “What’s not to love about these gorgeous gingham ceramic pieces? It’s hard to pick a favourite item ,although I have my eye on the oil dispenser.”

    Shop SWEET ME lilac and white plate at Vaisselle, £40

    Buy now

  • Matilda Goad

    Matilda Goad

    “I have followed Matilda Goad for a while and have really enjoyed watching her product range grow. 

    “I love her modern take on chintz, scallops and frills. One of my favourite pieces has to be her scalloped lampshades.”

    Shop raffia scallop lampshade at Matilda Goad, £132

    Buy now

Images: Tara Allison

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