The Co-Founder of childrenswear label Elfie, Victoria Roper-Curzon, talks to Jessica Jonzen about life with her five children in their busy and creative London home
VICTORIA AND HER FIVE CHILDREN OUTSIDE THEIR ACTON HOME. FROM L-R: NED, 8, IRIS, 3, MABEL, 5, VIOLET, 1 AND 11-YEAR-OLD ELFIE. IMAGE: VICTORIA ROPER-CURZON
There are some people in life who are just natural parents. They appear to take the sleepless nights and endless washing in their stride, and wear the all-consuming magnitude of parenthood lightly. They find fun in the chaos and in doing so create a sort of magic for their children.
Victoria Roper-Curzon is one such person. With five children ranging in age from 11 down to one, she is also the Co-Founder of the gorgeously nostalgic childrenswear label Elfie, which she runs from her four-bedroom home in Acton, West London.
“Having a big family is what I wanted so I feel so lucky,” Victoria says. One of three siblings herself, her musician husband, Peter, is the youngest of 10. “His family definitely influenced me. Just before I started having children, I would hang out with his siblings and they just made it look so fun and relaxed so I learnt from them.”
THE SITTING AND PLAYROOM AT VICTORIA’S HOME, WHERE HER MUSICIAN HUSBAND, PETER, PLAYS PIANO AMONGST THE CHILDREN’S GAMES AND PLAY FIGHTS. IMAGES: VICTORIA ROPER-CURZON
As a mother of two drowning in the general admin of motherhood, I marvel at the idea of having another three children in the mix. How do they even make it out of the front door in the morning? “The house is really messy a lot of the time. The laundry is crazy but it’s not the most important thing,” she says.
“I think it’s more important to live for the moment with the children than it is to worry about the laundry basket. It can be done any time. Having said that, I am thrilled when the house is tidy – it looks so nice. It’s not that I’m ok with it being a total dump but it happens and I have to be ok with it.”
I want the children to grow up in as charming a house as I can make it. I’m really influenced by all the old children’s stories that I read to them – like Shirley Hughes with her lovely illustrations of family homes. I want to create the same for them. ”
After years of living in small rented flats, Victoria and Peter bought their hundred-year-old terraced home three years ago. “We were so excited when we found it because it was the only house in our budget – the rest were flats. My mother is an amazing decorator but she couldn’t see the potential – she just thought it was disgusting,” Victoria laughs.
“Inside was a disaster. Everything was vinyl, the walls had holes in them, there was bizarre purple paint everywhere. It had been rented to lots of students and smelt really bad, but all I saw were the walls and the ceiling and the space – I was so excited. We were lucky that the potential wasn’t obvious to other people.”
THE ATTIC BEDROOM SHARED BY IRIS, 3, AND ONE-YEAR-OLD VIOLET, SEEN HERE SHARING A BATH IN THE NEWLY DECORATED BATHROOM. VICTORIA CHOSE THE SAME BEATRIX POTTER WALLPAPER BY JANE CHURCHILL WHICH SHE’D HAD IN HER CHILDHOOD BEDROOM. THE MAGICAL PRINTS ARE BY MARGARET TARRANT AND ARE AVAILABLE ON THE ELFIE SITE. IMAGES: VICTORIA ROPER-CURZON
The couple are gradually doing the work – much of it themselves – to transform the house into a welcoming and cosy family home. “With the perspective of having rented for so long, I’m so happy with the house that we managed to get by the skin of our teeth,” she says. “We had no budget so we’ve had to live in it whilst doing the work with holes in the floor and children playing amongst that but it was ok because we could see the end gain would be brilliant. Little by little I’m doing it up and it’s so satisfying. Everything that gets done is celebrated. I just feel really grateful that we were able to buy a house.”
With a bit of reconfiguration, the house now has four bedrooms, with the girls pairing up in two rooms and a room of his own for Ned. Inspired by her love of children’s books and films, Victoria has set about creating a home full of charm and whimsy – just like her designs for her label – but sometimes fantasy doesn’t quite work in reality. “I love the children’s bedroom in ‘Nanny McPhee.’ I tried to do that here in the attic room with all the children in there but in reality, it didn’t work because they were just so naughty.” The room was duly split in two.
The youngest girls’ room is the first Victoria has finished, complete with the Jane Churchill Beatrix Potter wallpaper of her own childhood bedroom. “It’s so nice to have a few things from your childhood that you loved but my lovely decorator knew it would be a disaster because it’s white so he varnished it. It’s a tiny bit shiny but if the girls draw on it I can just wipe it off.”
THE WELSH DRESSER IN THE KITCHEN WAS AN EBAY FIND, AND IS VICTORIA’S ‘PLACE FOR HONOURING QUIRKY THINGS.’ THE WALLS ARE PAINTED IN A COLOUR MATCH OF FARROW & BALL’S SETTING PLASTER; BABY VIOLET HELPS WITH THE FILING. IMAGES: VICTORIA ROPER-CURZON / INSTAGRAM
Despite running her business from her kitchen table and caring for her children, Victoria is focussed on creating a lovely home for her family. “I want the children to grow up in as charming a house as I can make it. I’m really influenced by all the old children’s stories that I read to them – like Shirley Hughes with her lovely illustrations of family homes. I want to create the same for them. It’s for me just as much as it is for them!” she admits.
Victoria plans to wallpaper the entire house, including the bathroom, in time. “Busy wallpaper does a great job of camouflaging the chaos,” she says. In the meantime, she and Peter have done all the painting themselves, and Victoria can be found trawling through eBay for furniture, or rescuing unwanted pieces left outside people’s homes and doing them up.
Peter will be in the trance of playing his piece of music and the children are having a massive war around him with their Nerf guns and none of them are any the wiser. It’s really amusing. ”
Peter, a composer, concert pianist and organist, is often found at their upright piano. “He plays all the time. It is stunning and the children are so lucky but they’re so used to it that they play around it and Peter just carries on. He’ll be in the trance of his piece and the children are having a massive war around him with their Nerf guns and none of them are any the wiser. It’s really amusing.
“The music also brings a lot of people over to our house because a lot of our friends are also taught by Peter. His musician friends also come over to play with him so the house is very busy with people.”
VICTORIA AND THE CHILDREN IN THEIR KITCHEN. IMAGE: VICTORIA ROPER-CURZON
The litmus test of whether a house is welcoming is whether new visitors know where to put themselves. “When new people come to the house and they immediately know where to sit, you know you’ve got it right because they feel comfortable. Then they get a drink put in their hand and everything can roll very happily,” says Victoria.
For the Roper-Curzon’s comfort, creativity and happiness are at the centre of their home and work life. “I think it’s important for parents to try and have a good time. You’ll be happier and then your children will benefit from that,” she says. “The laundry can always wait.”
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