Did you em­ploy an ar­chi­tect?

Homes & Gardens - - SHOPPING -

Yes. I have an ex­cel­lent ar­chi­tect who helps me to get my ideas down on pa­per, and my team of builders are very pa­tient and re­li­able. They have ren­o­vated sev­eral houses for me and I have rec­om­mended them to friends and clients, so al­though I drive them in­sane with nu­mer­ous changes, they do now know what to ex­pect.

Tell us about the de­sign of the ground floor.

I found three old metal win­dows in a French ar­chi­tec­tural recla­ma­tion yard, which was my eu­reka mo­ment. In­stalling them be­tween the hall and sit­ting room, and be­tween the kitchen and sit­ting room in­creased the sense of space and light on the ground floor, and pro­vided a vis­ual link be­tween the two ar­eas. I could have made the ground floor open plan but I like walls; in a busy fam­ily house, we need quiet spa­ces to re­treat to, and they come in use­ful for hang­ing the paint­ings I like to buy in on­line auc­tions. Each time we move, I sell al­most ev­ery­thing in the house so that I can start afresh. Be­ing ob­ses­sive is a com­mon side e≠ect of Parkin­son’s dis­ease, as is in­som­nia, so I trawl the in­ter­net late into the night, sourc­ing vintage fur­ni­ture or bid­ding on paint­ings. An­other pre­oc­cu­pa­tion is stick­ing to a bud­get. I min­imise the cost of cur­tains by mix­ing sev­eral fab­rics, rang­ing from in­ex­pen­sive plain linens to rem­nants of some­thing a bit more spe­cial, to add in­ter­est. When I see things like tiles or wall­pa­per on ebay at a good price, I buy them; it doesn’t bother me if there is only a small quan­tity. A few rolls of pa­per will cover a sin­gle wall, and I of­ten use a mix of tiles in di≠er­ent de­signs.

How do you bring a sense of co­he­sion to the de­sign with such eclec­tic fur­nish­ings?

Colour plays an im­por­tant role in cre­at­ing a unified look. I used a rem­nant of printed vel­vet to cover the backs of a pair of mid-cen­tury mod­ern Neil Mor­ris chairs that I bought on ebay. The un­der­stated greys, blues and dark heathers be­came the in­spi­ra­tion for the muted colours that fea­ture through­out the house. Win­ter Birds wall­pa­per, £95 a roll, Cole & Son, cole-and-son. com. Bloom­ingville cof­fee ta­ble, €299, Liv­ing and Com­pany, livin­gand­com­pany.com.

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