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Updated Country House Glamour
The property had been badly ‘chopped up’ in its previous use as a care home and had sadly fallen into a state of disrepair. When we started the restoration, we wanted to stay true to its English country house roots and make sure all the design decisions fell within the parameters of that vernacular. That said, we wanted to ensure it felt young and fresh rather than old or staid.
Kin House is designed to be a home away from home – a place where for the short time you’re there, it feels like yours. Elegantly comfortable but with that lived in, slightly eccentric country house feel that English manor houses so often have, each room incorporates vibrant colour and splashes of pattern, alongside antique furniture and uplifting art. There are 12 en-suite bedrooms and six reception rooms – all of which have their own character and can be used for different groups and events. It’s so versatile.
Creating The ‘Wow’ Factor
We tried to add a bit of joy and fun to the property, while respecting its history. Specialist paint techniques in some of the reception rooms give it a serious injection of design kudos – including the faux tortoiseshell effect on one of the bars. We also applied a marble wallpaper to the inside of the panels in the drawing room to elevate the space, and for a cool Instagram opportunity, we had a shell artist create a shell grotto within a niche in a hallway.
By leaving the raw plaster at the top of the walls in the main dining room we created quite a young look in what is otherwise quite a formal space – also the pink on the top half and the duck egg blue on the lower panelling is a young, fun colour pairing. With the more traditional oak leaf chandelier, it creates an amazing contrast.
An interesting selection of art elevates the feel of each room, ensuring nowhere feels too stuffy or traditional. Throughout the house we used quite traditional wall colours and furniture styles, but we played around with younger colours on the upholstery. I love the marble fabric on the armchairs in the downstairs lobby – it’s definitely a favourite of mine.
Decoration & Design
The oak leaf and the scallop are motifs that appear throughout the property, both within the architecture as well as fabrics and wallpapers. We wanted to use lots of English brands and styles, so we have the oak leaf wallpaper by Fanny Shorter in some of the en-suites too. In the ladies loos we have a beautiful Lewis & Wood paper and in the gents is a really striking Farrow & Ball stripe. In the communal hallways we needed a paper that was very budget friendly due to the quantity required, but it also needed to be very ‘inoffensive' as not everyone likes wallpaper – what we ended up with is neutral enough to appeal to people with simpler tastes as well as those who love pattern and print.
Checkerboard is also used on tiled floors in the event spaces and rugs from Pelican House anchor pretty bedrooms schemes. In the attic rooms, we decorated them with tongue and groove panelling in one and a lime wash in the other to give them a more low-key look. In the grander, first floor rooms we used panelling and more traditional applications to suit those more ‘grown up’ suites.
Delivering On Style & Budget
Mixing affordable pieces with bespoke items and antiques helps create a harmonious scheme. Antiques give spaces soul and patina – they have the advantage of being one offs so you get that very specialised unique look that can’t be easily replicated. They are also very well made and are often more budget friendly than a high-street equivalent.
We tried to mix up the lighting style to make it more interesting – my favourite are the barley twist wall lights that we designed and had made with my brother Maxwell Barlow Lighting. The overall lighting scheme is varied and crosses quite a lot of different styles. There are also Pooky bedside lights and Alice Palmer ceiling lampshades, both of which offer easy, instant decorative touches.
Photography by Owen Gale.
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