Arts and Crafts
Where did your passion for interior design begin?
My mother moved between France and England quite a bit and she was very good at transforming some fairly average houses into very stylish and interesting homes in a short space of time. I suppose that had an influence on me. After I left school I went to Central St Martins to do Art before deciding to do Product Design at London College of Fashion, both of those were good training in looking at spaces and objects with a critical eye and learning to manipulate them.
How would you describe your style?
I have only realised I have a style as I've been working on The Restoratory and The Butlery along with the main house. Without any formal training I've just gone along choosing things that I've liked. With a fairly lose scheme in mind and I have been surprised to discover looking back that I actually have quite a strong style! I'm most drawn to traditional shapes/motifs/ crafts that have been re-imagined in contemporary ways.
Do you have any rules when it comes to designing?
I'm not sure its a rule but I like to start by just sitting in the space for a while without any distractions, to just think, absorb the space and visualise how it will be used. I always try and pick a starting point - a wallpaper or a tile perhaps and then develop a scheme around it. You don’t want things to be too matching, so just keep moving things around and editing until it falls into place. Also I find its all very well to design the perfect room on paper but you actually need to go out and find the real life pieces, so I try and keep an open mind and let things develop in quite an organic way.
What inspires you most today?
I'm inspired by all sorts of things, I always have my phone out snapping away at odd bits of sculptures or window displays etc. I look for things that catch my eye as they get saved automatically, I delete them from my phone quite quickly but then rediscover them again at a later date on my computer! I'm quite fascinated by hotel interior design too as they get so much wear and tear that there is always a balance between aesthetic and practicality, sometimes beautifully done and sometimes disastrously! I think that’s the product design element in me coming out.
Talk us through The Butlery an The Restoratory project, what did you want to achieve and how did you go about it?
We moved down to Sandwich Bay in 2012 in search of the coastal ‘dream’ when we found our lovely home. The potential was obvious but it had been neglected for ages and the whole house felt much in need of some serious love and attention. We started work on The Butlery and Restoratory immediately, replacing timbers on the outside, putting much of the roof and guttering back up.
In The Butlery there was very little worth keeping, we needed to rejig the bedrooms and bathroom slightly so eventually we decided just to strip it all out and begin again. The floor boards weren't worth saving either so with no floors and no walls it was easy to really consider everything that went back in to create a space that although on the smallish side is perfectly formed. I sat and wrote a list of everything that needed to be accommodated in the house and made sure that there was a space for everything. I think our guests really appreciate the attention to detail (well they say they do in our feedback!).
Similarly in The Restoratory there was very little worth saving so all the walls and floors came out too! As guests are only coming for a week or two at a time I wanted the space to be really colourful and fun, with lots of interesting pieces going on. The hallway had an odd semicircular opening into the living area that wouldn't have been safe for children, so I made a virtue out of a necessity and put bright blue bespoke wooden panelling all the way around the hallway. There is a beautiful round bay window in the living area and double bedroom above so the layout just fell into place as I wanted them to be the main feature in both rooms.
I wanted The Butlery to have a more cottage feel and a nod to the Arts and Crafts movement, whilst The Restoratory with its lovely curved windows and larger space lent itself to a slightly more Art Deco feel (both movements prevalent in the 1920’s when the house was built).
(The kitchen before)
What was your most extravagant purchase?
The most extravagant things in the houses were probably structural decisions rather than furniture etc. In The Butlery for example, half the sitting room was raised up a step on a concrete pad and it divided the room in two, as much as our builder tried to dissuade me, I had him chip out the concrete by hand to level the floor and make one large space. The most extravagant purchase would have been the antiqued mirror tiles in the bathroom.
The most extravagant thing in The Restoratory is the beautiful bespoke mirrored fire surround which is the centrepiece of the sitting and dining room - I love it! The enormous crystal light fitting in the seating area was also an extravagance but I really wanted to highlight the beautiful curved end of the room and this fitting sits right in the middle of it.
And your best buy?
In the twin room in The Butlery is a fantastic french toleware chandelier covered in leaves. I found it at Ardingly International Antiques and Collectors Fair which is held every few months, it was the end of a long rainy day and the dealer just wanted to pack up and go home so they let me have the light for a steal! At least I went home happy!
How do you switch off from the day job?
I have a 3 year old and an 11 month old baby so there’s no switching off from the day job! Except maybe with a glass of wine at 7pm.
Is there a space (anywhere in the world) which you find yourself continuously drawn to because of the beautiful interiors?
I think I’m probably quite fickle as I’m not particularly drawn to one place over and over again but enjoy seeing new things for the first time. In England, I do really love big grand houses that are just worlds away from the way we live now, like Chatsworth or Cliveden although having said that the Duke of Windsor (Edward VIII) stayed here in 1926!