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
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
Life and Style
Baroness Lane-Fox warned that large companies such as have become so powerful that governments and regulators are left behind
techTech giants have left governments and regulators behind
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor