The renovations on the flat above 11 Downing Street reportedly cost as much as £200,000, despite the fact Boris Johnson only received an annual public grant of £30,000 to spend on the home.
The couple enlisted the services of interior designer and co-founder of Soane Britain, Lulu Lytle, for the latest makeover of the property. Ms Lytle’s portfolio has been described as “glamorous” and “decadent” by Tatler.
According to reports, the flat refurbishment was spearheaded by Ms Symonds and was carried out over lockdown. Downing Street and ministers in his cabinet have insisted that Mr Johnson paid for the work himself, but Cabinet secretary Simon Case will be carrying out a review into the issue.
Prior to Mr Johnson, the flat was occupied by former prime minister Theresa May, whose interior design style was described by Ms Symonds as a “John Lewis furniture nightmare”.
According to The Evening Standard, Ms May and her husband Philip barely made any major changes to the flat when they moved into it, opting instead to decorate with key furniture, including a red three-seater sofa, a John Lewis chrome table lamp that cost £100 and a £195 glass coffee table from Habitat.
While former No10 aide Gavin Barwell told Times Radio earlier this week that the flat was “perfectly nice” when Mr Johnson and his then-pregnant fiancee first moved in, Ms Symonds reportedly wanted to get rid of “glum” decor.
The flooring in the hall was stripped and polished and the living room was painted a deep green, say reports. But it is likely that Ms Lytle’s expertise and work on the redecoration absorbed much of the money spent.
Some of Ms Lytle’s clients include interior designers, decorators and architects, as well as A-listers such as Mick Jagger. She also has a royal connection - Prince Charles toured her famous rattan workshop in Leicestershire last February.
Tatler reported that the flat would “likely” be decked out in Ms Lytle’s signature printed wallpapers - some of which start at £100 a metre. As the designer is best known as a “saviour” of British rattan, it is expected that rattan furnishings and studded sofas would feature in the makeover.
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