25 Beautiful Homes
Carly and Ben Wood have combined a family-friendly feel with the height of luxury in their characterfully decorated home
Relocating to a period property in a Hertfordshire village, this pair embraced dramatic decor
Above a grand Gothic-style staircase, a show-stopping chandelier hangs low in Carly and Ben Wood’s panelled hall. ‘It took ages to find the perfect piece,’ says Carly, who had the light fitting shipped over from America. ‘I love seeing it in all its glory every time I come home.’
The house Carly shares with husband Ben, five-year-old twins Bella and Betsy, and baby Poppy, features all the grandeur of a Tudor-inspired build, but with some twists and turns thrown in for good measure. ‘When we decided to swap our hectic London lives for a slower pace in rural Hertfordshire, we began looking for a house that we could work on and tailor to our needs,’ explains Carly. ‘ We were struck by the boutique-hotel feeling of this place, set in a mature secluded plot yet with neighbours and a thriving village a stone’s throw away. It reminded us of a bolt-hole we had once stayed at, and we knew it had potential.’
Built in 1905, the property had been reworked by the previous owners. ‘We liked the layout but wanted to make a few tweaks of our own,’ says Carly. In need of some guidance, the couple approached Carly’s school friend, Tiffany Duggan, founder of interior design practice Studio Duggan, and together with Tiffany’s brother-in-law and builder, Jamie Cooper, they came up with innovative ways to fine-tune the building. First the conservatory was demolished to make space for a large kitchen extension
and a cloakroom, while an additional bedroom suite for the twins was built above it. Walls were then knocked through on the ground floor to house their playroom.
Elsewhere, the couple put their own stamp on the house with bold, decorative touches. In the sitting room, for instance, moody grey textured walls are combined with a glossy blue ceiling. The dining room and snug have a Tuscan meets modern-country feel, with burnt oranges, patterned fabrics and personal finds creating a relaxed family atmosphere.
‘Our previous house was Georgian, but the interior design was very contemporary – white with pops of bright colour,’ explains Carly. ‘It was great at the time, but I found that it dated very quickly. I’ve moved on from minimalist interiors now; everything here is about colour, texture, detail and patina, which add drama and intrigue.’
Upstairs, the roof was replaced, enabling the creation of a vaulted entrance hall and double-height pitched ceilings throughout the first floor. ‘ We’ve transformed the bedrooms from boxy to elegant by exposing the beams,’ explains Carly. ‘I’m very proud of what we’ve created – the house feels luxurious but works brilliantly for family life, too. We’re definitely here to stay.’