Interior designer Sandra Rothwell’s Cookham home

PUBLISHED: 06:51 30 December 2019 | UPDATED: 16:06 13 January 2020

Outside Sandra Rothwell's house

Outside Sandra Rothwell's house


As Sandra Rothwell re-launches her interiors business, we take the tour of her Cookham home and fall in love with her decor

An insight into how an interior designer livesAn insight into how an interior designer lives

In picturesque Cookham Dean there's a buzz of excitement and activity as Sandra Rothwell re-launches her interior design business.

Founder of the much-loved boutique shop Cookham Interiors, Sandra has moved from the showroom to set up her new venture, Sandra Rothwell Interiors. Working from the beautiful conservatory at her home, Dean Farm House, in the village, and without the demands of the shop, she can now have a much more personal interaction with her clients and be involved in the design process from start to finish.

"I decided I wanted to be more on-site and make re-designing my clients' interiors a more personal experience," she says. "Everything is sourced individually for my customers and I can now bring everything to their home for them to view, which is better as the light changes so much and affects the colours."

Interior design is something Sandra always wanted to do since moving to Cookham Dean. "I studied at KLC in Chelsea while running the showroom," she says. "And my first renovation project was our previous property, Chapel House in Cookham Dean."

Then, she and her two children, twins who are now 22, and their dog, Rory, moved here, to Dean Farm House. "I just fell in love with it on first sight," says Sandra. "The property dates back to the 18th century. Apparently it's one of the oldest houses in the village."

The house was derelict from a fire when they bought it 14 years ago, so it needed a lot of love and work. "It's Grade-II listed, so 
we had to be careful what we did to it, but we put in the kitchen and bathrooms and made it habitable again," adds Sandra.

There are three bedrooms and three bathrooms, and it's in a tranquil, pretty spot at the bottom of the hill. "It's very peaceful here, apart from when the kids are about!" says Sandra. "My daughter has just graduated and is starting a job locally for a Pharma company next week, and my son is at university in Brighton.

"They will be at home for Christmas and New Year, which will be lovely. And then while they are back, I may take the opportunity to visit Milan and Como again for a few days. It's so beautiful and inspiring there."

The family have always adored Cookham. "We love the river and the walks. We go to the Thames twice a day to walk Rory. I also love the restaurants, like the Bel & the Dragon and the pop-up wine shop in The Old Butchers Wine Cellar. There's a wonderful community here. But we're also so close to London and Heathrow, which is perfect," she says.

When we visited, Sandra had just put up her Christmas decorations, and they were a sight to behold. She got her real, potted Christmas tree and some of her decorations from Stubbings Nursery in Maidenhead. She says: "I like to shop local." And she has recently been to the Spirit of Christmas Fair at Olympia. I admire her snowflakes hanging from the mantle above the log burner and the silver satellite stars.

"Some of the accessories trends I'm seeing this Christmas are things I had in my shop years ago," she says. "Iridescent snowflakes and beaded snowflakes - they're all coming back in!"

Sandra also says gold is back in, especially for the festive season, and she has a lot of this in her home - the coffee tables, ornaments, and even her couches in the sitting room are gold and black, and super-stylish. "You say that, but you can't be too precious with anything, especially if you have children and a Springer spaniel," she says.

Rory the dog is clearly taken with the cowhide rug in the sitting room, as he stretches out for some fuss.

Sandra says she loves wallpapers, as "they can have a big impact in a small space". "But I couldn't use wallpaper in here because of the wooden beams, so I opted for paint. I can recommend the Paint & Paper Library," she says.

As Sandra gives me the tour of her beautiful home, she points out the classy rug from Stark in the dining area, her glossy dining table from XVL, and her love for accessorising is obvious. "I buy lots of things from Arteriors, like the table light on the bar, or from Ventura in Chelsea Harbour. My candles are from there. I also like Romo fabric cushions. They're some of my go-to places," she says. "I also love Tom Dixon. I met him once while I was in Milan, when he was launching his restaurant. He's really come into his own. You must go to his restaurant in King's Cross!"

Sandra spends a lot of time travelling throughout Europe, visiting design exhibitions and suppliers, but her favourite country is Italy. Its rich history of design is inspiring, but Sandra says her true love affair is with modern Italian design, which is sophisticated and elegant with clean lines, luxurious finishes and often minimalist styling. "My visits abroad mean I can source original and creative pieces and bring a little Italian flair to my clients' homes," she says.

As well as Italy, Sandra takes clients on shopping trips to London, Paris and other international showrooms. She says her clients get nothing but the best latest styles, trends and products.

Her business has grown internationally through personal recommendations, with projects in Zurich, Cannes and Mustique. And she now works from her conservatory, which she had built on to the back of her house. "It's lovely and light in here, and I have underfloor heating. I love my cosy Andrew Martin chair, which I had re-covered, and my traditional desk with an antique chandelier overhead," she says.

The conservatory and kitchen both overlook the smart, walled garden, which Sandra says was a building site when they moved in. They also had a deer living in their front garden, which had to move out. At the back, there's an old well, which they now use as a feature table.

The practical kitchen suits the space - black granite worktops and warm wooden cabinets. "These days, I may pick differently as I know some amazing Italian kitchen suppliers, but it does work with the house. The wine rack was my idea, obviously," she laughs. "The black spiral staircase in the corner is a real feature - it leads up to my son's room. I love my new festive garland from a Christmas fair that I've put on the staircase this year."

The gold patterned round pouffe, where Rory loves to sit, is an antique and adds a warmth to the kitchen area, as do the tan leather bar stools.

Looking ahead to next year, Sandra is going to be busy. "I already have two new projects lined up, one in Esher and one in Chelsea, which I'm excited to get stuck into," she says. "I also need to redo the upstairs in my house, as we recently had a flood from a burst water pipe.

"I've had a lovely response to my work over the years. I take great pride in making people happy, and designing a home that feels comfortable and lived in. I've built up a database of traditional craftsmen and artisans who create stunning individual pieces for my clients. I can source or have anything made; it's going to be different from the things you find on the high street," says Sandra. "I can find something unique to create the perfect home. Everything is possible." u

Latest from the Berkshire Life