Join us as we visit Connie Barton, founder and owner of Studio Connie, in her home in South London, where she lives with her husband Tom and their scruffy dog Gelert.
Entering Connie Barton’s home, you are welcomed by beautifully curated colours and warm natural materials, making the space feel truly wholesome and inviting. As we make our way into the living room, it is as if London has disappeared. In here, we are seated in Connie’s cosy, mustard coloured sofa, where we have the most enchanting view of what can only be described as an urban jungle - their garden. Sitting here enjoying the view, Connie starts telling us about her career with graphic design. Connie’s journey began in New York, where she spent time after university visiting design studios and offering to make them cups of tea in exchange for valuable insights. But while she was in New York, Connie was offered work in London, which later turned into a full-time job. “At my first job, I learned so much about the design process, different materials, the importance of space, and the right furniture and lighting. This job influenced my love of modernist design and taught me how great design plays an important part in everyday life. It also brought me back to England, and I have lived in South London ever since”.
In 2013, Connie ventured into creating her own independent design studio, which specialises in graphic design, branding and art direction. In 2011 her husband Tom opened his very first Honest Burgers site in Brixton. Connie helped Tom with the brand DNA and design, but as more restaurants followed, juggling this alongside a full-time job proved to be too much, and Studio Connie was born.
Connie explains that it is the world around her that influences and inspires her. Growing up in a large family in idyllic, rural Rutland, Connie spent much of her childhood being creative and escaping into alternate worlds through books and drawings: “I now realise what a luxury childhood boredom was! We had no option but to make up our own fun and create our own worlds to keep us occupied”. Today, Connie still ventures into new worlds of inspiration through music, photography, interiors and product design or when she and Tom holiday in the wild Scottish Highlands. Many of her clients also work within the creative industry, and Connie finds it very inspiring to bring their world and ideas to life through her work: “The most important part of my job is listening and asking the right questions to ensure I can comfortably step into the client’s shoes and really understand their world. Often clients will send me books or visual references - anything that excites them. Like a magpie, I’ll gather all these treasures, words and references before beginning the design process in my beloved sketchbook”.
Moving the conversation to their home, Connie tells us that they bought the house in 2015 after seeing it just once in the dark. “Tom fell in love with the house, I fell in love with the garden and its gnarly old mulberry tree. When the previous owner dug out the rear extension, they also built up the height of the garden so that you look directly out at the beautiful planting rather than looking down from above. It’s genius. That’s what gives it the jungle-like feel”, Connie tells us. Being a traditional Victorian house with a contemporary extension, the house is made up of an exciting mix of old and new. With its wooden ceilings and large windows overlooking the wondrous garden, the home feels warm and welcoming, and the light wells, which have been added throughout the house, naturally tie the whole space together.
“Our home here has slowly become a private gallery all of our own. Our shared interests, lessons and adventures as we’ve grown up together are all here, from the art hanging on the walls and the stacks of books to the pebbles collected at our favourite beaches that I use as paperweights”
Feeling so connected to nature whilst sitting in urban south London is truly unique, and over the years, Connie’s love for the garden has not lessened: “My favourite spot is in the living room, sat with a brew on our cosy sofa and looking out through the big windows. Every season is beautiful in its own way. When the sun hits the pond and reflects light across the ceiling, it’s particularly magical. Especially when it’s warm enough to slide the windows fully open, and the garden and the house become one – that’s when you hear the sounds of running water and birdsong from outside. Our own secret garden in a corner of the city”.
One of Connie’s favourite pieces in their home is her piano. Playing it, Connie transcends into another world, where she can find renewed energy and inspiration: “While working from home during the pandemic, I found myself drawn to sit down and play when I felt stuck in my work or was struggling with a creative project. I find it fascinating that, having played for my own pleasure for years, playing can now support my creativity and my work. It tunes in to a different part of my brain, allowing me to switch off and disappear for a while”. Quoting Ilse Crawford, Connie has prioritised decorating those spaces where she spends most of her time - only inviting things she genuinely enjoys into her home. When asked what home means to her, Connie explains that she is drawn to spaces that feel personal and authentic and that her home is full of cherished memories: “Home is where my loved ones are. Our home here has slowly become a private gallery all of our own. Our shared interests, lessons and adventures as we’ve grown up together are all here, from the art hanging on the walls and the stacks of books to the pebbles collected at our favourite beaches that I use as paperweights”.
Photographer: Kensington Leverne