a modern twist
A keen eye for design helped Karina Wilson-meijer catapult an intriguing period property into the 21st century
How contemporary touches brought a country house in Somerset steeped in history bang up to date
Karina Wilson-meijer searched for more than a year to find her ideal home. She specifically wanted a property that was in the countryside, yet within easy reach of a city. In 2002, she viewed a country house in Somerset that fitted the bill perfectly. ‘I instantly knew it was the house for me,’ she recalls. ‘It was positioned in front of a beautiful old oak tree, flanked by lawns and a landscaped garden. The house is full of character and is steeped in history – parts of it date from the 1400s and it has been added to over the centuries. I feel enveloped in layers of time here.’
The property had already been converted from eight bedrooms and two bathrooms to five bedrooms and four bathrooms. Karina’s main objective was to remodel the kitchen and bathrooms, and to redecorate. Her passion for colour has been used to full effect throughout the interior, using a mix of strong colours on feature walls for a touch of drama and to offset and balance the white palette. ‘I have made the most of the large walls and high ceilings,’ says Karina, ‘and have tracked down pieces of furniture, artwork and sculptures that complement the period features by adding a modern twist.’
Karina’s first task was to deconstruct the existing kitchen units and rearrange them for a more bespoke look, showcasing her skill and creative flair. The existing Chalon cabinetry, already painted in shades of mint green, red and yellow, was expensive, so instead of buying a new kitchen, Karina removed all the wall cabinets and repainted the base units. The wooden worksurfaces were replaced with black granite and a sheet of industrial zinc now covers the wooden island top, held in place by copper rivets. Karina chose open metal shelving for stylish storage. ‘One does have to be committed to keeping it tidy
favourite room‘ From the kitchen, there’ s a beautiful view out onto a 250-year-old oak tree, and the river that runs through the garden’
because everything is on display,’ she says. The recurring theme of blue and black is broken up by a wood-effect wallpaper, offsetting the wire shelving. Above the Aga, fired encaustic rhombus tiles and slate sourced direct from a quarry in Wales beautifully complement the stripped original elm floor. ‘The kitchen is my absolute favourite room in the house and the one I spend the most time in,’ says Karina.
A flair for art and design is evident throughout Karina’s house, and her preference for darker hues harks back to her Dutch background. ‘Using colour, furnishings and furniture in darker shades can work even in a smaller room,’ she says. ‘For example, placing oversized, dark-blue velvet sofas in the snug, away from the walls, has created an illusion of having more space. Everything works together in this room.’ The light that floods through the large window, gently framed by wisteria, softens and brightens the deep colour palette. The result is a calming, comfortable space that has a distinctive style and substance.
‘There is also power in repetition,’ says Karina. ‘Choosing the same colours and avoiding too many patterns creates a simple canvas for showcasing artwork and sculpture. I believe things will find their natural place within the home if you love what you bring into it.’ Karina has used white to dazzling effect on the ceilings, walls and in her choice of furniture, while marble pieces and pale chairs evoke modernism, create balance and freshen the look of the interior.
‘ When it comes to my design work, this house is the perfect laboratory to test out ideas and play with colour,’ says Karina. ‘It is where I often invite prospective clients for my business, Wilson-meijer Interiors, to see my ideas in situ. It’s a lovely home in a beautiful spot that inspires me time and again.’
design tip‘ Buy what you love and inspires you,trusty our instincts and try to ensure a unifying theme links everything together cohesively’
Kitchen For a sense of cohesion, the cabinetry was painted in the same shade of blue black seen throughout the house. Existing Chalon cabinetry painted in Blue Black estate eggshell, £60 for 2.5L, Farrow & Ball. Sorrento Molini tiles have this look, £99.80sq m, Fired Earth
Snug ‘I love this room in the winter – the fireplace throws a huge amount of heat into the room and the velvet sofas are cosy to the touch,’ says Karina. Stove, price on request, Jetmaster. hackney two-seater sofa in blue velvet, £2,299, hay. rio mirror, £120, william wood Mirrors