In case you haven’t already heard, 11 Downing Street is getting a (very controversial) makeover.
The Electoral Commission has announced that it will investigate the funding of Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat renovations, after speculation that the revamp could be costing as much as £200,000.
Prime ministers are allowed to spend £30,000 of public money annually to renovate their accommodation, and Johnson has said he covered the cost of the refurbishment himself.
Johnson’s fiancée Carrie Symonds has reportedly been leading the renovations after inheriting the four-bedroom home from Theresa May – described, to the delight of social media users, as a “John Lewis furniture nightmare”.
The flat has been renovated several times over the past two decades, undergoing a refurbishment with each new prime minister. According to Tatler, Cherie Blair spent £127,000 modernising the flat with elaborate wallpaper and Samantha Cameron installed a large kitchen in 2010.
So how did Symond’s “exquisite” tastes become the most expensive redesign of them all? Namely, because she’s enlisted one of the world’s most revered interior designers for help.
Lulu Lytle, owner of interiors company Soane Britain, is said to have inspired Symonds’ opulent makeover. But who is she – and why are her designs so sought-after in certain circles? Here's everything you need to know.
Who is Lulu Lytle?
Lytle is the designer and owner of Soane Britain, an interior brand that designs British-made furniture, upholstery, lighting, fabrics and wallpapers.
Lytle grew up in the Worcestershire countryside and, after a trip to Egypt as a teenager, was inspired to study Egyptology at university before founding her company aged just 25.
Now 49, the ethos behind the designer’s brand is to make well-designed furniture with the quality and longevity of antiques.
The designer lives in London, with her husband and three children.
What is Lulu Lytle’s style inspiration?
A glimpse at Lytle’s designs reveals it’s all about maximalism. Expect bright prints clashing with vibrantly coloured fixtures, geometric shapes, fun designs and handmade rattan pieces.
In 2011, Lytle rescued the last rattan weaving workshop in the UK from administration and now the material takes centre stage at Soane Britain.
This also explains why some pieces come with high price points, as handmade rattan pieces can take up to three days to make.
Soane Britain says it aims to contribute to “the joyful atmosphere of any interior” and, as well as its rattan workshop, it uses a network of traditional crafting workshops that include iron-forging, chair-making, precision engineering and saddlery.
What is the price point of her designs?
Lytle’s designs are (expensively) handmade in Britain. On top of this, it’s a high quality brand beloved by the style set, which drives up prices thanks to it desirability and cachet.
Soane Britain's fabrics start from a staggering £100 per metre and its new Cleveland chair costs around £3,000 without VAT – so it’s a brand that certainly isn’t accessible to everyone.
Why is she a high society favourite?
As well as being the interior designer choice of Britain’s first couple, Lytle is also a favourite of the royals - Prince Charles took a tour of her rattan workshop last year and the Duke of Edinburgh was said to be among her clients.
Other famous clients include Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, while the brand is also responsible for the décor of Italian aristocrat Marella Agnelli’s Park Avenue apartment in New York and the seaweed-inspired curtains at the upscale Cobbler's Cove hotel in Barbados.
Watch: Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds return to 10 Downing Street after a victorious win for the Conservative party