Sandra Barrio von Hurter lives and breathes colour, from the cheeky cherries that dangle from her jewellery to the sun-blasted yellow of her kitchen. Her business, Sandralexandra was in its early days when the first lockdown hit last year, so she feared that when stockists (including Harvey Nichols and Selfridges) closed their doors, she would be in trouble. But then her earrings became a must-have Zoom accessory, and online sales took off.
Embellished with cute curvy bananas, plump pea pods and fiery chillies, Sandra’s designs add zest to even the greyest Monday-morning meeting. ‘Sales went crazy,’ she says. ‘If my colourful style helps put a smile on people’s faces, that’s great.’
At home, her style is equally vibrant. Bold paint shades and fabrics feature in every room of the Victorian house she shares with her husband, Felix, and their one-year-old daughter Frida. Born in Barcelona, Sandra came to London when she was 23 with hopes of finding a short internship in the fashion world. That was 11 years ago, and she’s worked non-stop ever since, including stints at Matthew Williamson, Max Mara and Hackett before she moved into jewellery.
Working from home, she’s surrounded by crates of faux fruit for inspiration, and citrus shades are reflected throughout the house. ‘I decided I wanted an orange room, a yellow room, a pink room…’ she says, though the process of finding just the right hues took a while. ‘At one point, there were paint swatches daubed on every wall,’ Sandra remembers. ‘It was important to see how they looked at different times of day.’
Sandra and Felix, who is the co-founder of Freestar, an alcohol-free beer brand, worked their way through the more ‘obvious shades’ before discovering that they much preferred tones and colour combinations rooted in nature, such as olive greens and an orange reminiscent of the flesh of an overripe papaya.
To ensure the array didn’t become too dazzling, they had a steer from interior designers Angelica Squire and Emily Todhunter, a long-time friend of Felix’s family. ‘Colour is tricky to get right, so it was great to get their input,’ says Sandra.
The paint that injects sunshine into the kitchen year-round is Orangery by Farrow & Ball, which is teamed with striped blinds in Sailboat by Mulberry Home, mix-and-match tiles, and cabinets in a selection of vivid colours. In the living room, a more serene green – Lichen by Farrow & Ball – sets the tone, while woodwork, door frames and shelving are in Hunter Dunn gloss by Paint & Paper Library. ‘Adding that glossiness brings the whole scheme to life.’
For furniture, the couple shopped at places like Sunbury Antiques Market in Kempton, Lots Road Auctions and online platform Vinterior. They added paintings, prints and framed posters, including artworks on long-term loan from Felix’s parents. ‘They started collecting art in the 1970s but recently downsized, so we were very happy to accept some of their colourful pieces,’ says Sandra.
She used the lockdowns to fine-tune the interiors, along with running her business and looking after Frida. ‘Yes, I’m always on the go,’ she laughs.
Most recently, she set Felix to work redecorating the hallway, adding a warm band of yellow to the bottom half of the wall and a shelf with a scalloped trim that fits over the radiator: ‘I always try to find a way to add some extra decoration.’ More scallop shapes are dotted around the house, including on the living-room rug by Vanrenen GW Designs. The fruit and vegetable theme also pops up regularly: as well as the faux fruit, there are giant vintage vegetable tins that Sandra has had made into lamp bases. ‘The jury is still out on whether my jewellery influences our home style, or the other way around,’ she says. ‘I like to think the inspiration can flow both ways.’