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The Botanical Life: At Home with London Stylist Yasuyo Harvey

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The Botanical Life: At Home with London Stylist Yasuyo Harvey

December 15, 2017

After growing up in Japan and relocating to London to study in 2004, botanical stylist Yasuyo Harvey recently moved to the suburbs before her 5-year-old son, Noah, started school. Her family’s circa-1930s house in Worcester Park came with a neighborhood full of young children, easy access to “the best Korean restaurant in London”—and daily inspiration for her graceful floral compositions.

“The best plants are usually in the alleyways between houses or in someone’s front garden,” she recently told The Modern House.

After stripping wallpaper from most of the rooms in the house, Yasuyo and husband Phil remodeled the kitchen and turned their attention to the garden. Working side by side for several weekends, they built a Japanese box garden (a tsuboniwa) with raised beds to grow the flowers for her work. “I call myself a botanical stylist,” says Yasuyo. “I’m more interested in creating objects and sculptures for beautiful interiors than conventional floristry.”

Read on to see the botanical art she creates for each room in the house:

Photography courtesy of The Modern House.

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Above: “I grow some of the seeds here in the garden, and they come back every year. I also get things from markets, overseas suppliers and when I’m out walking in the fields,” says Yasuyo.
From the feathery Stipa tenuissima grasses in the foreground, &#8
Above: From the feathery Stipa tenuissima grasses in the foreground, “I harvest the seeds and shape them into bowls,” says Yasuyo.
Golden grasses and dried flowers are elements in a botanical still life above the refrigerator.
Above: Golden grasses and dried flowers are elements in a botanical still life above the refrigerator.

When the couple bought the house, “The kitchen was so tiny. Phil is quite big, and he could hardly turn round in it,” says Yasuyo. “Our friend Ryuta Hirayama, who works at Jonathan Tuckey Design, helped us draw up plans for an extension.”

The remodeled kitchen has a new range, custom plywood cabinets, and a white worktop with a sink drainboard.

A big window above the kitchen sink connects indoors to out, with a view of the back garden.
Above: A big window above the kitchen sink connects indoors to out, with a view of the back garden.
After stripping off wallpaper, &#8
Above: After stripping off wallpaper, “we skimmed the walls and decided to leave the plaster raw. It really works,” says Yasuyo.
A ball of Stipa seeds has a Tribble-esque allure.
Above: A ball of Stipa seeds has a Tribble-esque allure.
Yasuyo arranges dahlias with flowers and fronds from the garden.
Above: Yasuyo arranges dahlias with flowers and fronds from the garden.
The finished botanical composition finds a home on a chair by designer Faye Toogood.
Above: The finished botanical composition finds a home on a chair by designer Faye Toogood.

Yasuyo worked for a florist in London before she began teaching floral classes to Japanese expats, showing them “how to make a bouquet or arrangement. It was great because I could do it in my spare time,” she says. “I did that for two or three years, then started going to Paris Fashion Week with a friend, helping her as a translator.

“One year I met Faye and Erica Toogood when I visited their fashion presentation in Paris,” she told The Modern House. “Faye asked me to decorate her new studio for a photo shoot. … I’ve just finished some work for an apartment that she interior-designed in King’s Cross.”

In the bedroom, an exuberant houseplant mingles with a carnivorous cousin.
Above: In the bedroom, an exuberant houseplant mingles with a carnivorous cousin.
The power of symmetry: fern leaves in simple wooden frames impose order on a botanical composition that includes houseplants, dried leaves, and shells.
Above: The power of symmetry: fern leaves in simple wooden frames impose order on a botanical composition that includes houseplants, dried leaves, and shells.
Pods and seeds add texture and structure to Yasuyo&#8
Above: Pods and seeds add texture and structure to Yasuyo’s botanical compositions.
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Above: “I bought the Thonet rocking chair from Ardingly Antiques Fair; it’s quite an early one from the 1890s,” says Yasuyo.

The resin floor was less expensive than installing concrete, but it “does mark quite easily,” notes Yasuyo.

See more of Yasuyo Harvey’s house and garden at The Modern House.

N.B.: For more botanical inspiration, see:

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