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Inside Rishi Sunak and Akshata Murty’s Downing Street home

Akshata Murty, prime minister Rishi Sunak’s wife, has become the February cover star of Tatler magazine.

The Indian heiress and businesswoman, who entered The Sunday Times Rich List alongside her husband in May thanks to their joint £730 million fortune, has given the magazine access to people close to her for a detailed look at her life and background.

Along with this came a closer look into Murty’s interior design choices for 10 Downing Street. The couple moved into the prime minister’s residence in October after taking up the role after Liz Truss resigned.

Prior to the Sunak family’s move, the private flat was occupied by Truss for only a month during her tenure as prime minister, and before that, Boris and Carrie Johnson lived there with their son, Wilfred.

The Johnsons’ flat refurbishment came under scrutiny after a leaked invoice suggested it cost more than £200,000 and was designed by interior designer Lulu Lytle, who owns the upmarket Soane Britain firm. The redecoration included 10 rolls of £225 wallpaper and a £7,000 rug.

Now that the Sunaks and their two children, Krishna and Anoushka, have settled into their lives on Downing Street, the public will get a glimpse into how they are making their mark on the flat.

The wealthy couple are known for having expensive taste, with Sunak seen wearing £450 Prada loafers and drinking from a £180 “smart mug”. On their moving-in day, Murty brought out tea and coffee for the movers in mugs that reportedly cost £38 a pop.

Their penchant for the finer things in life continues with their furniture and design choices, but without the maximalist tastes the Johnsons were fond of.

According to Tatler, Murty commissioned “exquisite fabrics” from her favourite company, Challis Interiors in Richmond. She also commissioned a rug large enough “to almost fill the room” and had decorative cornices “hand-gilded”.

John Challis, who runs Challis Interiors with his wife Alice, told the magazine: “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. The ornate cornicing was hand-gilded, as it would have been originally, and a rug was commissioned to almost fill the room.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Wire)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Wire)

“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 added.

Murty also had “opulent curtains” installed in the entrance areas of the flat and window seats in most of the rooms. Challis also said that she ordered velvet sofas “in jewel colours” with cushions that “also became a work of art”. Asked if Murty’s redecoration could be compared to Carrie’s Lulu Lytle revamp, both Challis and his wife said: “Oooh, no. Far less glitz.”

It appeared that the prime minister and his wife were keen to distance themselves from Boris’ flat refurbishment saga, as the Tatler profile said it was “paid for by the Sunaks, at a very substantial, undisclosed cost”.

Sunak’s predecessor found himself at the centre of a row over how he funded his own flat refurbishment, as it emerged that Lord Brownlow, a Convervative Party donor, had contributed at least £52,000 towards it.

A large proportion of the couple’s wealth is driven by Murty’s £690 million stake in Infosys, an Indian IT company founded by her father, Narayana Murty.

Her non-domicile tax status was criticised after it was revealed that it could have saved her £20 million in taxes on dividends from her shares. Murty eventually agreed to pay UK taxes on her worldwide income.