Can you tell us about the project?
The owners of this beautiful, period country house wanted to breathe new life into it. My brief was to create a welcoming and above all comfortable home with space for entertaining. Early on we took the decision to re-paint the paneling using a pale grey/blue colour throughout, and this coupled with the sisal flooring provides the perfect backdrop to bold colours and prints in the form of Indian inspired textiles and rugs, and a few quirky accessories.
Can you give us your tips for hanging artwork, and especially groups of prints?
Prints are a great way of using art to decorate a room without breaking the bank. I think they’re best hung in symmetrical groups rather than spreading them individually around a room. I often favour hanging prints in a vertical rather than a horizontal arrangement (as here, in the hall) as I think it creates an interesting punctuation point in a scheme. Here I used the paneling to further frame groups of prints.
Can you tell us about the Boot Room?
A boot room is one of those spaces that are peculiar to a country house. Even if it’s just a spot by the back door where you hang your coat and store your wellies, it’s essential to have somewhere for all your outside gear (especially in winter). When I’m decorating a country house, and where space allows, I will create a good sized boot room as it invariably becomes a useful place in which to store all sorts of stuff – from vases to sports kit to logs.
A comfy chair or sofa to sit on when you’re putting your boats on or off is a must, as is plenty of hanging space. A high level shelf is also a good idea, providing useful storage for the things that you don’t use every day. A tiled floor is a good idea (as it’s much easier to clean off the mud!) but I also like to use a rug to provide a little warmth and softness underfoot once you’ve taken your boots off.
As with many old country houses, there is little or no built in storage: how did you adapt your scheme to cope with this?
The house features beautiful, original paneling throughout so it was largely impossible to create any built in storage. Instead I chose to make a virtue of its absence, using feature wardrobes, cupboards and chests of drawers instead. It did take careful planning though and close consultation with the clients to establish what storage was required and where. As a general rule you can never have too much – don’t forget space for linens as well as clothes upstairs, and crockery as well as glasses, downstairs.
What are your tips for using rugs in a scheme?
The house is carpeted almost throughout in sisal, which is a good looking, hardwearing surface and provides a great foil for a rug. I used rugs extensively here to introduce colour, warmth and texture. They’re also useful for demarcating individual spaces, for example the seating area in the hall.