‘I like un­ex­pected

Living Etc - - HOMES /ETC -

el­e­ments: things that con­found pre­con­cep­tions and draw the eye. Ev­ery room should have some­thing sur­pris­ing: it might be an ob­ject that’s un­der­scaled or over­scaled, or a bright colour, or a piece that doesn’t match,’ muses in­te­rior de­signer Nia Mor­ris. ‘I think in­te­ri­ors should be a bit dar­ing: that’s what gives a home en­ergy. Too much taupe and taste­ful­ness is just bland.’

Eas­ier said than done you think. But it’s a de­ci­sive phi­los­o­phy that Nia has put into prac­tice at the Glouces­ter­shire house she shares with her hus­band Paul Baines. What be­gan life as an un­wieldy cot­tage with ‘low ceil­ings, dark cor­ri­dors and too few win­dows’, is now a home that feels both mod­ern and in­di­vid­ual. Strik­ing an as­sured bal­ance be­tween rus­tic and urbane, white walls are punc­tured by ex­pres­sion­is­tic swathes of blues and greens; muted rugs sit with mid-cen­tury fur­ni­ture and rooms bask in ru­ral views through new, wide win­dows.

The ex­te­rior, with its gabled roof line, still feels tra­di­tional. Step in­side, how­ever, and it is the sense of space that cor­rals your at­ten­tion. The orig­i­nal hall­way was low-ceilinged and gloomy, but now it’s a double-height space that feels light and wel­com­ing. ‘The en­trance of a home is so im­por­tant; if it’s mis­er­able, it’s hard to shrug off that first im­pres­sion,’ says Nia, who worked with ar­chi­tect Richard Parr to cre­ate the strik­ing en­trance. ‘What we lost in space up­stairs is made up for down­stairs.’ The oak and steel stair­case drifts up­stairs like a piece of mod­ern sculp­ture. ‘As it’s viewed side-on, we de­signed it to be beau­ti­ful in pro­file,’ says Nia. ‘We’d con­sid­ered con­crete, but thought it would be too con­tem­po­rary, so we chose oak, cut­ting it to look like con­crete. I like the way you can see the grain of wood in each tread.’ The ver­ti­cal pan­elling – a pared down ver­sion of tongue-and-groove – echoes the ru­ral ori­gins of the house. ‘The house was orig­i­nally a mill and it has grown over the years,’ says Nia. ‘I wanted to pre­serve the feel of its ori­gins in a con­tem­po­rary way.’

To con­nect the house to its lo­ca­tion, a back wall was re­moved and the kitchen ex­tended to in­clude pic­ture win­dows with views of the wood-fringed acreage. The sim­ple lay­out, with a ca­pa­cious steel-sur­faced oak is­land and practical break­fast bar, was de­ter­mined by the needs of a large fam­ily: ‘Paul and I have seven chil­dren be­tween us and ev­ery­one likes to cook,’ says Nia. In­stead of cup­boards, ex­posed shelv­ing houses easy-ac­cess es­sen­tials: Kil­ner jars, Swedish pot­tery and glasses.

In the util­ity room, ap­ple-green join­ery sings against white walls. It’s a painterly jux­ta­po­si­tion that works on two lev­els: as dec­o­ra­tion and to de­fine the space. Nia’s taste for ‘bold, clear colour’ also ap­pears in the swan-white mas­ter bed­room, where a deep-blue half-wall be­hind the bed screens a bank of wardrobes. ‘As the room has no straight walls, it was a practical way to cre­ate a dress­ing room,’ she says. ‘It also al­lowed us to break up the room’s cav­ernous feel and re­po­si­tion the bed to take ad­van­tage of the views.’

Moody-blue en­velopes you in the liv­ing room, where walls, ceil­ings and join­ery are washed in the same tone, a ‘dar­ing choice’ that has the de­sired ef­fect: ‘it feels for­mal but cosy’. There is more drama in a pair of high-backed, mid-cen­tury chairs and a Gothic bank of flick­er­ing can­dles on the re­stored man­tel­piece. A 19th-cen­tury sofa, up­hol­stered in an over­scaled white and gold bro­cade, adds that fris­son of the un­ex­pected. ‘It’s a slightly ridicu­lous fab­ric, but it works,’ says Nia. ‘I don’t think there is one right way to do things. There are lots of ap­proaches that work. The key is to take one idea and fol­low it through.’

See more of Nia’s work at ni­amor­ris.co.uk

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.