Velvet sofas and opulent curtains: the Sunaks’ makeover of No 10 flat revealed

PM and Akshata Murty got rid of ‘very tired’ decor largely installed for former chancellor George Osborne

Rishi Sunak and his wife, Akshata Murty, undertook a makeover of the No 10 flat with opulent curtains and velvet sofas in jewel colours at their own expense, according to a new profile of the couple in the society magazine Tatler.

John Challis, the upholsterer behind the transformation, told the magazine that the redesign got rid of the “very tired” decor largely installed for the family of former chancellor George Osborne.

But in contrast to Sunak’s predecessor, Boris Johnson, the refurbishment was carried out at the prime minister’s own expense.

Johnson was subject to an investigation over the funding of the refit of his flat in No 11 Downing Street while in office, which was paid for by a wealthy Tory donor, Lord Brownlow. Johnson later repaid the cost of the £112,000 project, which was carried out by designer Lulu Lytle.

The Sunaks employed the upholsterer John Challis from Richmond, the PM’s North Yorkshire constituency, who told Tatler what his work for No 10 involved: “We made long, fully interlined curtains for all five windows overlooking the garden, hand-pleated and held back with heavy coordinating tassels in red, gold and the ivory of the damask.

Akshata Murty on the Tatler February cover
Akshata Murty on the Tatler February cover. Photograph: Tatler

“The ornate cornicing was hand-gilded, as it would have been originally, and a rug was commissioned to almost fill the room. Akshata was very involved and keen to see how things are made. She is also not afraid of getting stuck in and helping, either,” he said.

Challis also described “window seats in most of the rooms in a complementary colour. Most of the sofas were velvet, in jewel colours, and the cushions also became a work of art.”

He described the previous decor as “all very tired” and said that in comparison it had “far less glitz” than the Lytle makeover of No 11.

The full profile of Murty is due to appear in the February issue of Tatler from 5 January.


Rowena Mason Whitehall editor

The GuardianTramp

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