A writer’s colourful home has a story to tell

Bold shades and open spaces add lots of character to author Huma Qureshi’s 60s house

I cringe when people say it’s colourful,” says award-winning author Huma Qureshi. She’s perched on the edge of a blue sofa in the front room of her four-bedroom north London home, where she lives with her partner, Richard Birch, and their children. “It’s not! It’s considered. It’s intentional.” The floor tiles are a faded terrazzo yellow and the walls are pink, with pale green architraves framing the doorway leading into the kitchen-diner. In this home, neutrals serve as accent colours. There isn’t much white, grey or beige in sight, but she’s right, it’s not colourful, it’s brilliant. Behind her a collection of seven patterned wall plates hang next to the cover artwork for her 2021 memoir. “My friend Parul Arora did the cover for the book and she gave me the print,” she says. “These are my take on the plates my mum would buy on her travels and hang up in our family home. It was the sale of that home that led us to this house.”

Huma’s mother was downsizing from their family home in the Midlands and moving to north London to be closer to her children. This was during lockdown in 2020 and she wasn’t able to view houses, so they did it for her. “I saw a tired-looking house and half jokingly showed it to Richard, who is used to me sending him pictures of properties we could never ever live in. He said this actually looks interesting,” says Huma. They went to view it and she distinctly remembers that they were both struck by the light and the big windows on both sides, plus the spacious rooms. “At a certain point in the afternoon the sun comes into the house from the back and front, filling the centre so it glows. There were slices of sunlight coming through and it felt like a summer house. On holiday in Denmark, we fell in love with these traditional, black-painted summer houses and when we saw this place, we immediately knew we’d paint it black on the outside, too.” This is also why she decided on faded terrazzo floor tiles. “It’s as if they’ve been washed out by the sun over time and have been there for years.”

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