The Colourful Houses of Notting Hill

Scattered throughout Notting Hill and Ladbroke Grove are clumps of painted houses, from bright crimson reds to pale lavenders. From what I can tell, there is no real logical order to them. They are usually in groups of five or 10, surrounded by classic brick terraced homes that line streets throughout the city.


There was a book published in 1991 called Notting Hill in the Sixties. A quote from authors Charlie and Mike Phillips is often sited in writings about the area now as it illustrates how much it has changed in recent decades: “If you saw Notting Hill at the beginning of the sixties, it would be hard to recognize it as the same place you can see today. Nowadays Notting Hill is wealthy and gentrified. Go back thirty years and the area is a massive slum, full of multi-occupied houses, crawling with rats and rubbish.”


Even now, when you walk along Portobello Road, starting at the top where Notting Hill Gate station spews hoards of tourists onto the top of the road every Saturday to the bottom of the road as it snakes toward Harrow Road, you notice a gradual decline.


The further you walk from Notting Hill, the more the faces change, the fashion fades, the buildings crumble and the shops and restaurants begin to look a bit dodgier. The posh shops cut off around midway, where Westbourne Grove intersects Portobello Road.


The atmosphere is more lively after that, the market stalls dedicated to second hand knickknacks, cheap imported dresses and mugs with Union Jacks. Toward Notting Hill Gate, you’ll find more jewellery, old antiques and china.


I enjoy the atmosphere of both ends of the road, and it always makes for some good photos. I’ll share them with you soon, but for now, I just wanted to show you how colourful it is, with all the painted houses.


Even the peeling paint is appealing.


The people are just as colourful as the houses. If you missed them, here’s a few photos of the folks who hang out around Portobello:


That’s it for now!


If anyone knows the story behind these lovely coloured buildings, leave a comment. I’d love to know.


This last one was made into a coaster for my photography shop, Photo Larks.

24 comments on “The Colourful Houses of Notting Hill

  1. My old home. Well the poor bit…..
    Since it was built the poor/rich divide existed. Westbourne Grove was the ‘Bond St’ in 1880’s but further north/west the houses did not fill with rich. The 60’s saw it become home to pop stars, and some musicians, and now is full of ‘trendies.’ The vast number of bedsits replaced under the mad Thatcher in the 80’s by expensive flats. Check the prices now!

    • Oh yea, the prices around there are outrageous, especially if you inch more toward Holland Park! My boyfriend’s boss has a house on Ladbroke Grove, toward the Notting Hill End and I’ve seen some photos. It’s a pretty stunning place with a big beautiful garden. Oh the life. But the history of the area and how it’s changed over time is fascinating. I used to live in Kensal Green (where we had a mouse infestation and burglers…) and work in Notting Hill so that was my daily walk to the office.

  2. Your first and last photos are of the street we see from our kitchen window. I too love that view. 🙂

    As for walking Portobello, it does get dicier as you go farther north, but I love the area north of the Westway and along Golborne Road. It’s much less touristy and much more REAL.

    • Oh how cool! What a great view to look out at in the morning with a cup of tea. And great place to live with all of that on your doorstep.

      I also love the bit under the Westway. I agree it feels more real. It has much more of a personality and an attitude! Plus some street art 🙂

  3. Easily one of my favorite places in London! Last time I was there, I went shopping along the road flanking Notting Hill Gate and had a great time. The music shops there are fantastic. 🙂

    • Oh yea, there’s a smaller branch of Rough Trade from the East there and then the one with the black front on Notting Hill Gate near the tube. That one has a branch of retro clothes and another branch of books – both really cool shops as well. I think those are the only two music shops I know in that area. Are there any other good ones?

      • Rough Trade is fantastic! I found so many artists I was looking for. I know I wandered into at least two other shops, but I have no idea where exactly – there are a lot of side streets. 🙂

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  5. I thought you might be interested to watch The Origins of Notting Hill Housing, a short documentary which shows how a group of passionate social reformers set about tackling the appalling housing conditions found in Notting Hill in the mid-1960s. Here’s the link:

  6. Just to add to Richard’s comment. The yellow fronted buildings in Colville belong to the Notting Hill Housing Trust. We painted them when we refurbished them around 14 years ago, and the colours (yellow and blue) were chosen by the residents.

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  9. Wonderful photos!
    I’m going to London for a few days, and do not know the area at all, except via the famous Hugh Grant film. Other than Portobello Road, are the other streets in the vicinity as interesting and colourful?

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