An interior designer's Victorian apartment showcasing her botanical collections
Angela Bunt has a love of flowers and botanical art in her blood. Her London apartment beautifully showcases her collection of works, many of which were painted by her grandmother. Feature Sarah Bolton. Photographs Mark Bolton
Angela Bunt traces her first forays into collecting vintage flower prints to a book owned by her grandmother. It was devoted to the study of roses and was by the renowned botanical illustrator Pierre-Joseph Redouté. ‘I was entranced by it, even as a young child, and would look through it, mesmerised by the exquisite detail. I carried the book around the world with me as I moved, before finally deciding to frame some and hang them in the bedroom so I could look at them every day.’ Those prints became the springboard for Angela’s burgeoning collection and she now has at least 40 around the flat, with more lined up at the framers.
Angela has lived in this London apartment for 28 years – first as a tenant, before eventually buying it 12 years later from her landlord. ‘It was a shrine to Laura Ashley when I took it on,’ she laughs. ‘But I fell in love with it. There are amazing, expansive views over Tooting Common and it’s flooded with natural light.’ After taking redundancy, Angela completed a course in interior design and set up her own consultancy. ‘I use the flat as my show home. As soon as potential clients walk through the front door and see the staircase runner – made from brightly coloured, striped Peruvian rugs – they’re hooked.’
You might also like antiques fairs and auctions around the UK this month
When it came to decorating, Angela has taken inspiration from her parents and grandparents, who were all antiques collectors. Gallery walls are crammed with botanical prints, vintage oils picked up at flea markets, new work by up-and-coming artists and wonderful flower paintings by Angela’s grandmother, an amateur artist. ‘She would have been thrilled to see that I was displaying her work,’ says Angela. ‘Although she would have found some of the choices amusing, as her style changed over the years – going from watercolours of her garden before moving on to oils and a much more fluid, abstract style. Whenever I hang a new one, it’s always a talking point.’
Angela arrived in London 40 years ago from her native New Zealand and, having married an Italian, moved to Italy for 10 years. Like so many before her, she was captivated by the quality of the light and the muted beauty of the buildings with their exterior ochres, terracottas and deep reds and atmospheric interiors. ‘I’m still drawn to Italian pieces, such as the chandelier in the kitchen – it’s a reminder of my time spent there.’
Back in London, she started work as a florist – a natural choice given her upbringing. ‘I was brought up in Christchurch and my grandfather was a florist who rather coerced my 16-year-old father into helping out. He ended up doing it for 54 years.’ This background instilled in her a passion for flowers and she learnt of their power to transform a space. Her collections of prints and floral paintings are an extension of that and she uses nature as inspiration for her schemes. ‘If it works outside, it’s going to work inside,’ she believes.
You might also like inside Nikki Tibbles' flower-filled country house
More exotic touches are dotted through the house, with Indian objects a recurrent theme. ‘Whenever I’m able, I visit Sunbury Antiques Market and head straight for a stall that sells quirky pieces from India, such as the wooden animals and glass paintings in the bathroom. Of course, it’s all about the colour, but also the simplicity and childlike quality of the work.’
Angela has plans to redo her kitchen but finds that, with her hectic lifestyle, that may be some way off. ‘I seem to be busier than ever with the design business, which I love,’ she says. ‘It would be fun, though, to have a new project for myself.’
Showing item 1 of 14