Buchanan Studio share decorating tips for creating drama at home

The west-London studio whose colourful spaces have their roots in the world of theatre and set design know how to add imagination to interiors

the studio chair by buchanan studio
Buchanan Studio

Based in west London, Angus Buchanan’s studio is a multidisciplinary practice, working on set and event designs alongside interiors projects. Buchanan grew up with creative parents who ran a design and garden-furniture business. ‘Our home was a colourful environment,’ he says. ‘As a child, I would continuously be building dens, redecorating bedrooms, building models and helping my father make furniture.’

charlotte and angus buchanan

Knowing that he was destined for a creative career, Buchanan went to work for photographer Mario Testino after leaving school, and thereafter for the late, acclaimed set designer Michael Howells. ‘The years I spent with him shaped everything I am now,’ Buchanan says. ‘I travelled the world, designing sets for theatre and fashion shows. I have no formal training, but set design allowed me to experiment with a variety of projects and aesthetics. From then, it was a natural path into interiors.’

Buchanan Studio was set up in 2018 with his wife Charlotte, a brand expert. It now has an impressive client list, including Dior and Harper’s Bazaar.

buchanan studio kensington mews house
This Kensington mews house by Buchanan Studios is imbued with warmth from the soft colour palette and varying textures
Kalina Krawczyk

What is Buchanan Studio’s style?

A fusion of traditional and modern influences, with theatrical flourishes of colour and pattern. ‘We work across many different creative projects, so we are chameleon-like, which is the set designer in me,’ explains Buchanan. ‘But there’s also a certain aesthetic that underpins our designs – people say there is a romance to them. I love to use natural materials, antiques and reclaimed pieces in an unconventional way. Creativity, imagination and originality are at the core of our ethos.’

Buchanan’s list of influences reflects his eclectic background, and includes Belgian interior designer Axel Vervoordt, photographer Tim Walker and filmmaker Wes Anderson.

buchanan studio kensal townhouse project
Kensal Townhouse project
Kalina Krawczyk

What are Buchanan Studio’s recent projects?

The Buchanans have been designing their own London home, an Edwardian townhouse that was bought as a ‘wreck’. ‘It hadn’t been touched in decades,’ says Buchanan, ‘so we had to make it work for us on a practical level – Charlotte and I have two children and a dog. It was also a blank canvas to experiment with new ideas, including furniture designs, launching soon, and our new fabrics.’ These will complement the existing ‘Studio Chair’, a stripy armchair that reinterprets the freeflowing aesthetic of 1970s furniture.

buchanan studio new fabric collection
A bedroom featuring fabric from Buchanan Studio’s new collection
Buchanan Studio

What is the studio currently working on?

New projects include a large country house in Oxfordshire, a London home, a restaurant in Battersea Power Station and a number of villas in the Mediterranean. The studio is also about to complete a new Brixton outpost for modern kebab restaurant Le Bab. ‘The two founders were early supporters of ours, and allow us a lot of creative freedom,’ says Buchanan. ‘In the new space, we’ve installed a huge floor-to-ceiling wall of coloured glass bricks, revealing the open kitchen behind.’

They say: ‘Colour, pattern and texture can be used to elevate a space into something extraordinary, but it’s possible to overdo things. I wouldn’t describe myself as a maximalist – I like to be bold, but also exercise control and restraint. It’s all about balance.’ buchanan.studio


Angus Buchanan’s tips for creating interiors with drama and personality

A bathroom is a great place to experiment with pattern and colour. We’ve just tiled our children’s bathroom in pink, cream and mustard tiles in a combination of stripes and checks. I tend to use strong colour and pattern in smaller spaces.

Natural materials and reclaimed objects are the building blocks for my design process. I especially love marble. It feels simultaneously traditional and modern. I like to contrast textures – gloss with matte, rough with smooth. Blending opposites creates a harmonious tension that’s very pleasing.

Mixing old pieces with new makes a space feel authentic, suggesting that you have accumulated them over time. It also gives an insight into your personality, which makes a home more interesting. I love to combine really aged antiques with modern lacquered furniture. The new elements make the old ones all the more impressive.

Plants add character and make a space feel lived in. I use dried flowers a lot, as well as living greenery. People can feel restricted about using plants indoors, but there are no rules: trees are often reserved for large living rooms, but they also look amazing in smaller bathrooms.

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