A fine balance: How furniture designer Bethan Gray plays the local markets

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Bethan Gray has mixed her own pieces with vintage finds from the markets on her doorstep in a home as charming as it is reflective of her design talent, says Holly Williams

The furniture designer Bethan Gray admits to struggling with her work-life balance – her office is at home, part of the Victorian villa in west London's Ladbroke Grove that she shares with her husband and a dog. And it doesn't make it easy to know when to put down her pen.

"I'm lucky, because there are a lot of benefits to working from home and I do love what I'm doing," she acknowledges. "But I am considering getting a studio to try to get a better balance. It's the end of the day that's the problem, really – knowing when to finish."

It's easy to understand why the 35-year-old designer finds it hard to wind it up of an evening: as well as designing her own range of contemporary furniture, she has a new line in John Lewis this autumn, teaches final-year students studying product design at St Martins, and is a global furniture-trends consultant for Stylus Media Group. But then, if you've going to be busy, it must be nice to be busy somewhere as charmingly decorated as her home.

Gray likes to mix vintage furniture she sources at flea markets and stalls on the nearby Portobello Road with more obvious designer pieces – including a few of her own. So a rocking chair and little yellow table picked up on the nearby Golborne Road cosy up to a black sofa she designed for The Conran Shop and the lacquer-topped table she's just produced for John Lewis.

Of course, being a designer means she gets first dibs on some products, such as the black sculptural table in her kitchen. "It's actually an outdoor table – it's a sample that never went into production," she explains. "There's only one that exists, and I always really liked it, so it's nice to have it."

Gray and her husband decided to keep the layout of their home clear and open when they moved in a little over a year ago, which means it's beautifully bright and airy. "It's very simple and has large windows at the front, so it's very light," she says. "I also like that it feels very communal – the living space extends into the kitchen, which goes into the balcony." For Gray, having a fairly plain backdrop is ideal: she's not a fan of clutter, preferring to show restraint and let pieces speak for themselves.

To that end, there are a lot of neutral tones in the soft furnishings, swathes of chunky knits and simple, wooden block pieces. "I love working with wood," she says. "It's a love I inherited from my father, and from my grandfather, who was a forester. "I tend to do things that are solid and square," she adds, "mixed with occasional pieces that are more sculptural. The upholstery is chunky, and it's nice to offset that with things that are soft and crafted."

Not that it's a boringly beige home. Gray is also fond of the odd injection of colour: a set of neon-bright chairs perk up the dining area, while the living-room is enlivened with splashes of yellow.

Indeed, she often finds herself organising her possessions by colour – even the books in her office (right) are arranged by the hue of their spines. "I'm a visual person, and I think it looks nice," she says. "I try to remember what I'm looking for and I think, 'What's that book? Oh, it's green...' It's an easy way to keep it organised."

Stylish organisation – well, she's obviously nailed at least one aspect of the work-life conundrum.

Bethan Gray's line for John Lewis is in shops now. For more details: johnlewis.com

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Yaya Touré has defended his posturing over his future at Manchester City
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
Life and Style
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Property search
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows, Network Security)

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice