"Setting foot in Yasmin Sewell’s tucked-away home in Dalston, east London, is a sensory overload. Think ASMR for the soul. You’re instantly swimming in verdant shades of green and enveloped in wafts of chai tea, mixed with subtle notes of scented candles. Her dog – Pizza the Cavapoo – is barking while Stevie Wonder is on the speaker. On paper, it sounds like an awful lot. But in person, it gives vibes of a mini retreat.
Indeed, there’s more to the decor than meets the eye. ‘I was at a point of transition and transformation and green felt like a healing colour,’ Sewell explains of why the colour features so prominently. So, in 2019, with the help of her friend, interiors designer Joel Bernstein (he also conceptualised her Soho store Yasmin Cho) she settled on Papers & Paints’ Pale Egyptian Green for her front rooms. ‘I got a clear message from somewhere saying that everything had to be green.’ Bernstein took it and ran with it, while she slightly panicked. ‘In my mind I pictured a chic, obvious green. I thought he was mad,’ she laughs. But he insisted and, in the end, it worked in her favour. ‘What happened was I spent so much time in this green room that eventually my brand came to me.’
Sewell is referring to her wellbeing business, Vyrao – the name deriving from the latin verb vireo, which means ‘I am verdant, I sprout new, green growth’. Founded in 2021, it was a pivot from a career spent in fashion. The Australian- Lebanese single mother of two began work at US Harper’s Bazaar before moving to London to open a boutique aged 22. Stints at Browns as fashion buyer and as vice president of style and creative at Farfetch followed before, in 2018, she stepped away from fashion to be with her sons. ‘I suddenly had the time so the house was the first step.’
She didn’t rush though. When Sewell moved in nine years ago – pregnant and with a newborn in tow – the Victorian house was charming, but all white and ‘slightly soulless’. Still, she lived with it, quite literally. ‘I didn’t have the time, I was in the early stages of motherhood,’ she says of why renovations didn’t begin for five years. She also didn’t rush to furnish the place, spending days on end in Kempton Market and Alfies Antiques with Bernstein. ‘Some pieces were affordable, some were expensive. I think I spent all my savings on the house and it was the best thing I ever did because I am truly happy here.’
At some point during my visit, I notice a sound from a bygone era. Is that a landline, I ask? Sewell laughs. ‘Oh my god, it actually is. I have it in case of emergencies but I don’t even know where it is.’ It’s not the only relic. The dining room table, made from salvaged marble by Marble Partners, is surrounded by rattan Maison Drucker chairs, shipped from Paris. The vintage Tiffany-style stained glass lamp shade in the living room camouflages into the ceiling, and there are paintings in every corner of the house, including what she calls ‘weird paintings’ by her mother.
Alongside tchotchkes scattered around the place are modern design classics, including the Utrecht and Ekstrem chairs – in summer greens, of course. Where you do see a departure from green, Sewell hasn’t strayed from a commitment to saturated colour. The bright yellow stair runner seamlessly meets chartreuse walls on the first landing. And she let her boys – aged nine and 11 – choose their bedroom colours – a Yves Klein blue and bright, yes, green. Sewell’s kitchen, overlooking the garden, is one of the rare spaces that feels sober by comparison. ‘It’s where I start most days,’ she says. ‘My home feels like an oasis. It sounds cheesy,’ she warns me, ‘but it’s almost like I decided to choose joy and happiness and therefore made my house feel that way.’
By Henrik Lischke