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

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