It’s 8am on a miserable winter’s day, a team of six are shuffling furniture around Abisola Omole’s apartment and photography equipment is being awkwardly assembled. It’s grey and raining outside and our coffee delivery has gone awry. And yet, all is calm. The lights are low, classical music is playing and everyone feels at ease. More than once someone comments on how chilled it feels in the space, a three-bedroom apartment a stone’s throw from King’s Cross in which Abisola has imbued her unique and considered sense of serene style. Making a home that felt relaxed, peaceful and disconnected from the outside world was the goal for the Creative Director and Founder of lifestyle brand Studio Arva, who is also known by her Instagram handle @abimarvel. Her first time living alone, she wanted to design a haven for herself where she could retreat.

“The aim was to create something really relaxing and calm,” she explains of her peaceful home design. “I wanted my mind to feel at ease whenever I came here, and so I ensured the colour palette wasn’t too busy and prioritised textures instead.”

A pull quote reading: “I wanted my mind to feel at ease whenever I came here, and so I ensured the colour palette wasn’t too busy and prioritised textures instead.”
A minimalist sitting room featuring two linen sofas and a wooden coffee table with twisted legs.

When considering how to create a calm environment within her apartment, Abisola knew that neutrals would be the perfect base, choosing to add interest and detail with contrasting textures of oak, walnut, teak and linen. In the open-plan kitchen and sitting room, a custom-made oak and travertine kitchen island brings softness to the darker doors and slate countertops of the built-in cabinets, enhanced by our own Vasa Linen Bar Stools in complementing shades. Dividing the room is our Filippo Linen Sofa, which adds texture and interest thanks to its sloped back and rustic upholstery. It was this piece that Abisola used as a springboard for the interior design, taking cues from its silhouette and tactile texture. “I wanted the sofa to be the pièce de résistance,” she explains. “It set the tone for the rest of the room; I wanted everything else to fit into a family that was based on that sofa.”  

Next to it sits our oak Solomon Coffee Table, whose twisted legs and curved edges echo the Filippo’s sloped form, as well as our Coleridge 2-Seater Sofa and Footstool in a harmonious Natural linen. Set against a backdrop of floor-to-ceiling linen curtains, the space nods to Malibu beach houses and the relaxed West Coast aesthetic Abisola is so drawn to. “I always like the light to feel diffused, and so those curtains were so important,” she explains. “If someone picked you up and put you here, you wouldn’t necessarily know you were in London, and that’s what I wanted this space to feel like – disconnected.”

Abisola Omole wears brown trousers and a camel-coloured top, and is standing with her hand one one hip looking at the camera.

Adding to the apartment’s sense of otherworldliness is the third bedroom, which the designer has transformed into a meditation space. Relaxing home decorating ideas don’t come much better than this; with Japanese shoji screens arranged in front of the windows and tatami mats placed on the floors, the room feels completely removed from the outside. A bouclé armchair of Abisola’s own design, paired with our Extra Large Faux Olive Tree, brings another layer of serenity to the space. “I really like sound baths and I’m trying to prioritise my own mental health,” she explains of the decision behind the design. “Nature’s such a big part of creating a space that feels relaxing, and the OKA tree looks so incredibly real; it really adds to the calming aesthetic of the room. It’s such a showstopper.”

Though Abisola’s rooms may be considered, she’s been careful to make sure nothing is too permanent. Living in a rented apartment and with a busy creative mind that’s constantly thinking of new ideas, the designer wanted to ensure that everything could be easily changed if needed (or desired) ­– that’s why you’ll find wheels and foam padding on most of the furniture legs to ensure easy mobility. There have also been efforts to ensure the space can adapt to fit more people – an extendable dining table allows dinners to expand from six to 12 – and clever storage ensures clutter can be easily concealed. In the master bedroom, our Divan Bed Base with Drawers provides space to store clothes and accessories, while our Lauretta Sideboard makes a stylish statement in the dining area.

A pull quote reading: "My home is inspired by Japanese design elements and the West Coast aesthetic... because I wanted the space to feel relaxed."
A white lamp, white vase, red cup and black candle holder sit on a wooden console table.

Key to decorating a rented home is not just allowing for flexibility, but ensuring you invest in those core pieces that speak to your style, Abisola says. “The main elements that really bring a space together are the rugs, curtains, artwork and the big pieces like the sofa. To me, those are the items that add character to a space,” Abisola explains. “Honestly, I do think it’s important to try and find a place that has good floors too. Without good floors, this space would feel very different.”

How a home feels is the most crucial element of Abisola’s design ethos. Whether she’s putting together a room for herself, redesigning Studio Arva’s showroom in Islington or working on a concept for a client, her first port of call is “how you want to feel in a space. Whether you want to chill or feel energetic, these are the things that help you decide colour schemes and what pieces will feel special,” she explains. Though she agrees she has an “underlying, neutral softness” to her style, she doesn’t lean on one particular era or theme, instead adapting her taste to suit a mood. Sourcing pieces for Studio Arva has opened her eyes to new designers, and it’s her preferred trio of custom, vintage and off-the-shelf pieces that she believes brings a home to life. “Each space is different. I wanted my store to feel quite playful and so it embodies that, but I would not say my apartment is playful,” she says. “My home is inspired by Japanese design elements and the West Coast aesthetic, but that’s because I wanted the space to feel relaxed. I was going for something that felt really chill. For me, it’s all about the vibes.”

To find out more about Abisola, follow her on Instagram @abimarvel or visit Studio Arva’s website.