A sympathetic touch
PUBLISHED: 10:48 24 March 2009 | UPDATED: 15:52 20 February 2013
Situated opposite a substantial Tudor house, this new-build home in the middle of the countryside needed to blend in, both outside and in, says Tessa Harris...
Interior designers Louisa Nicholls and Linda Isaacs are used to being asked to work on large new-build homes.
Their business, KA International, based at Holme Grange Craft Village, near Wokingham, has been supplying fabrics, furniture and accessories to top end homes in the area for years. But when they were asked to dress a brand new property in rural Hampshire, their brief for the project was rather different.
Louisa explains: "Although the house is brand new, it was built to be in keeping with a substantial Tudor house opposite and many other historic homes within the village. The bricks were chosen to look like they were reclaimed and the house was designed with a timber frame, with oak beams being visible both outside and in. Our brief was to furnish the house as sympathetically as possible to suit the outside style. That meant keeping everything classic and timeless."
"Our brief was to furnish the house as sympathetically as possible to suit the outside style"
The house features reclaimed fireplaces in both the drawing room and dining room and there is traditional, hand-cast plaster coving throughout. Interesting features such as window seats and vaulted ceilings have also been included in the design.
The focal point of the spacious reception hall is a large solid oak staircase which leads to an impressive galleried landing. Throughout the house there are feature walls, where wallpaper with bold designs has been used to great effect. This is very evident in the hall where a floor-to-ceiling window at the back of the house was too large to be dressed. Says Louisa: "We used wallpaper with a simple reflective leaf design from the ground floor all the way up to the top of the landing wall on either side of the window to frame it. On the opposite landing wall, we used co-ordinating wallpaper incorporating a large flower pattern. Both wallpapers are quite neutral, however their appearances change as the light changes throughout
From the hall you step down into the drawing room, where full height French windows provide lovely views of the countryside. Restful creams dominate this room, enlivened with different textures and subtle patterns in the fabrics that reflect the rural theme. "We wanted to keep this room quite calm and light," explains Louisa. "We chose a timeless cream fabric for the curtains and blinds, and teamed this with a number of other cream and coffee based fabrics from our range. As the colour tones are the same, the finished result is very calming - you instantly relax in here."
The sofas are classic Chesterfields, and two Louis XIV chairs lend the room an air of elegance. This room also features an imposing, reclaimed fireplace believed to be at least 200 years-old. The surround stands at nearly five feet high. Hand-cast oak leaf patterned coving finishes off the look.
On the other side of the reception hall, double doors lead to the dining room. Instantly your eye is drawn to the reclaimed French limestone fireplace, which again dates back about 200 years. The pretty bay window houses a window seat which is the ideal place to relax. Says Louisa: "This is a very pretty window that looks out to the front of the house. Because this room is very light, we chose a large patterned, two-tone floral fabric for the curtains, coupled with a matching stripe for the roman blinds.
"For continuity, the window seat has been dressed in a gold flecked fabric which has been used in varying degrees in other rooms throughout the house. We also used bold red and gold oak leaf wallpaper on the back wall, which works perfectly as it is transposed on the lobby wall which can be seen when you look from the dining room down into the kitchen."
The country-style kitchen is hand-crafted with granite and oak worktops, and hand-painted in String from Farrow & Ball. The work surface is dark emerald green and appears to be 'jewelled' in certain lights. The floor is limestone and the built-in appliances include a Maytag American fridge freezer, a Stoves range cooker, dishwasher and wine cooler...
READ THE FULL ARTICLE IN THE APRIL 2009 EDITION OF BERKSHIRE LIFE