The co-founder of de­sign studio Run for the Hills on jux­ta­pos­ing vin­tage and con­tem­po­rary pieces

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Anna Burles, co-founder of style studio Run for the Hills, on her sig­na­ture look, Art Deco and mak­ing a space feel unique

She has more than her fair share of tal­ents: Anna Burles worked in pub­lish­ing and as a re­porter be­fore turn­ing her clever stylist’s eye to in­te­ri­ors, es­tab­lish­ing de­sign studio Run for the Hills with her graphic-de­signer hus­band Chris Trot­man, eight years ago. They have be­come a one-stop cre­ative shop for some of Lon­don’s hottest restau­rants and bars, as well as de­sign­ing el­e­gant pri­vate homes (A-list clients in­clude El­lie Gould­ing) and the Houzz of 2018 show­case for up­com­ing de­sign trends. Here are Anna’s in­spi­ra­tions… When did the in­te­ri­ors bug bite?

Af­ter a back­ground in pub­lish­ing and ra­dio re­port­ing, along with a jour­nal­ism de­gree at what’s now the Lon­don School of Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, I wanted to do some­thing more vis­ual. I worked for the guer­rilla mar­ket­ing firm Di­a­bol­i­cal Lib­er­ties, do­ing quirky pop-ups and in­stal­la­tions for brands like Adi­das and Top­shop, which then turned into event de­sign­ing. How did you move into in­te­rior de­sign?

I loved the in­te­rior styling side of event de­sign, so I de­cided to study part time at the KLC School of De­sign while I was still Words ⁄ Fiona Mccarthy

work­ing full time. Af­ter that, I in­terned for some restau­rant in­te­rior de­sign prac­tices (one only paid me £10 a day!) un­til I landed my first gig de­sign­ing the in­te­ri­ors of an ad­ver­tis­ing agency. They chose me be­cause I’d worked in one as a cre­ative di­rec­tor, so they thought I’d ‘get’ them a bit more. What’s your sig­na­ture style?

There’s an un­der­ly­ing thread of art­fully jux­ta­pos­ing vin­tage and antique clas­sics with next-gen­er­a­tion de­sign. I would never spec­ify all-new pieces for a room. I love to break the rules, but it’s also es­sen­tial to work to the tastes of my clients, so one project might be zen and pared back, an­other might be full-on boho, or quite in­dus­trial and raw. What’s your start­ing point?

I pick quirky pieces that tell a story, cre­ate a talk­ing point and lend hu­mour to a space. For ex­am­ple, I sourced a large wooden ar­chi­tec­tural model that would have been used in the 18th cen­tury to ex­plain a pro­posal to a client – it now hangs on the wall of a client’s kitchen and it helped de­ter­mine the other el­e­ments in the room’s de­sign. You love vin­tage – any favourite eras?

I love Art Deco and mid-cen­tury, but also bru­tal­ist and mod­ernist de­sign. Well-worn, well-loved pieces ex­cite me the most. Web­sites such as Pa­mono or Vin­te­rior are great sources, but mostly, I love hunt­ing down won­der­ful ob­jects, props and ac­ces­sories from mar­kets and an­tiques fairs. I’m happy get­ting up at 5am to snap up the best bits at a mar­ket. It’s those one-off pieces that make a scheme truly unique. How do you like to make a state­ment?

Some pieces need to stand on their own and be ad­mired – like a beau­ti­ful vin­tage rock­ing chair we re­cently sourced from Bel­gium, which we placed in a hall­way next to a side ta­ble and read­ing light. We do a lot of art sourc­ing too and I love un­usual ac­ces­sories like torso and head sculp­tures. Do you have a go-to paint pal­ette?

Rich, moody hues like Far­row & Ball’s Stiffkey Blue, Dove Tale, Purbeck Stone, Calamine, Peignoir, Black Blue; and

Paint & Pa­per Li­brary’s Plim­soll, the deep­est, inki­est mid­night blue (I’m cur­rently us­ing this shade to paint the front doors and all of the wood­work, in­clud­ing the kitchen, in an in­dus­trial loft). What’s a favourite fab­ric?

Our go-to for vel­vet is the Varese range from De­sign­ers Guild – gor­geous shades and good-value qual­ity. I love the way Ines Cole uses it to up­hol­ster vin­tage li­brary chairs. Any other favourite ma­te­ri­als?

I like to blend metallics with nat­u­ral mar­ble. In­stead of a sim­ple white Car­rara, I like to pick one-off, show-stop­ping slabs in vi­brant hues like blue, green, or black, di­rect from a sup­plier like Stone World to en­sure I won’t see it any­where else. I use stone for ta­ble tops or bath­room van­ity units and for kitchen work­tops and splash­backs. How do you bring tex­ture into a space?

Along with vin­tage and re­claimed wood, I’m pas­sion­ate about live edge wood – it works well for shelves and work­tops, and we work with Re­vive Join­ery on su­per-large live edge wood ta­bles. I like the sub­tle twist of rat­tan used in a very tai­lored, lux­u­ri­ous way, such as on a beau­ti­ful din­ing chair or mir­ror frame. I like dis­tressed, edgy, inky prints too: for wall­pa­pers, Feathr and Ella Do­ran; for fab­rics, Black Edi­tion; for an­tiqued glass, Studio Peas­cod. What about light­ing?

Mod­ern light­ing with a vin­tage feel – the Bert Frank Re­volve pen­dant is per­fect for pro­vid­ing moody, in­ti­mate pools over din­ing ta­bles and kitchen is­lands. Fix­tures by Felix Light­ing Spe­cial­ists are beau­ti­fully made and work in ev­ery space. How else do you make a space feel unique?

Art and ob­jects speak a thou­sand words. For some clients, we even source things like cut­lery and plates for the din­ner ta­ble. (We’ve also designed Christ­mas trees!) Clever tricks like mov­ing the art around the house, putting some­thing away

for a few a while key ac­ces­sories be­fore bring­ing al­ways it make back a out home again, feel new or chang­ing again. What do you spend money on?

In­vest in fur­ni­ture, light­ing and art – and gor­geous floor­ing and beau­ti­ful tiles. We like Smink Things’ ar­ti­san tiles, which are full of char­ac­ter and vari­a­tion. They come in lots of colour­ways to mix and match to make our own de­signs. You can save on rugs, bed­ding, secondary light­ing and ac­ces­sories from great high-street stores like An­thro­polo­gie. How about stor­age?

Home needs to be beau­ti­ful but su­per-prac­ti­cal – in one Is­ling­ton town­house, we con­cealed stor­age in a fake wall of pan­elling be­hind the head­board in a bed­room and hid away all the power points for charg­ing gad­gets, so only the nice bits like books and vases of flow­ers sit on the bed­side ta­bles. How is de­sign­ing a home dif­fer­ent to a bar or restau­rant?

Home is about lay­er­ing de­tail upon de­tail – throws, cush­ions, drapes, rugs to feel cosy un­der­neath your toes when you get out of bed. With a com­mer­cial project, you focus on dura­bil­ity in mi­cro de­tail, an­tic­i­pat­ing ev­ery bump and scrape. What does home mean to you?

Home is my haven. It’s not just com­fort­able and wel­com­ing, but also cre­atively in­spir­ing. My home is full of per­son­al­ity and in­ter­est and of­fers the per­fect test­ing ground for props or ac­ces­sories be­fore they make their way to the studio. What’s up next?

We’ve just fin­ished a lovely, light-filled apart­ment in an Art Deco build­ing in Re­gent’s Park and we’re work­ing on a loft apart­ment in New York and a Ge­or­gian town­house in Soho. We’re also work­ing on lots of Lon­don restau­rants – in­clud­ing a Kricket bar next to the new White City House, a cool Viet­namese restau­rant in Not­ting Hill called MAM, spa­ces for Hawai­ian sushi brand Island Poké and Claw’s ur­ban seafood restau­rant just off Carn­aby Street.

CLOCK­WISE From THIS IM­AGE run for the Hills’ de­sign for the din­ing area of MAM in Not­ting Hill; Anna cre­ates mood light­ing with Bert Frank’s re­volve rise & Fall pen­dant, £920; the de­signer favours vi­brant mar­ble like this Ama­zonite slab, from a se­lec­tion, Stone World; and Anna uses stand-out pieces like en­coded’s re­laxe lounger,£1,614, Houzz, to make a state­ment

CLOCK­WISE from left Anna’s de­signs for the lounge area and mas­ter en suite at the Houzz of 2018 in­stal­la­tion in Soho; she teamed sat­u­rated colours with nat­u­ral tex­tures in MAM’S Viet­namese restau­rant in Not­ting Hill; an art-filled apart­ment in re­gent’s park was an­other of Anna’s projects; the de­signer gave island poké in lon­don’s Broadgate Cir­cle a trop­i­cal vibe; edgy prints, like ella Do­ran’s Cam­ou­flage wall­pa­per, £150 a roll, are used by Anna’s team to add in­ter­est; peignoir mod­ern emulsion, £45 for 2.5l, far­row & Ball, is a favourite shade; Ar­te­ri­ors’ Jeri­cho re­clin­ing chair, £3,754, has the sub­tle twist of rat­tan that Anna likes; the de­signer uses inky shades, like this oh la la wall­pa­per, £127 a roll, feathr, to in­ject drama; and head sculp­tures, such as this Diana bust, £125, The french Bed­room Com­pany, lend a touch of quirk­i­ness

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