In Conversation With Ed Reeve of Blackwood House (Part 1)

Rob – “We recently sat down with Ed Reeve, the owner of the Iconic Blackwood House, situated in North London. In an incredibly insightful interview, we spoke to Ed about his job as an architectural photographer, his design style, how he built his incredible home and what it’s like to be a shoot location owner. So without further ado, let’s get straight into it.”

Rob – “Hi Ed, how’re you doing today?”

Ed – “Very well thank you, has been a nice day for the shoot.”

Rob – “It certainly has, the weather has been on our side.”

Rob – “So, can you tell me a little bit about what you do for a living?”

Ed – “I’m an architectural and interiors photographer. I shoot for luxury and leisure brands, so I shoot fashion retail, restaurants, hotels, but I also do museum exhibition photography, residential and public buildings as well.”

Rob – “That sounds fascinating, how long have you been doing it for?”

Ed – “I’ve been taking pictures professionally for around 25 years.”

Rob – “Wow, amazing, so how did you get into it?”

Ed –“How did I get into photography? To be honest, I think it all started when I was a kid, I was always making pictures with my eyes through windows and frames, even without a camera. My parents obviously spotted what I was doing, so they quickly bought me a camera, as they realised I clearly had this eye to frame things [laughter].”

“So following that, I started it properly at the end of school, doing a diploma in photography, while I was doing my A Levels. I then got into Art college and did an Art foundation that specialised in photography and film. Went to uni and got a degree in photography and then after that, I actually got my first commission straight out of uni, so I didn’t take the normal route of assisting, which actually threw me a little at the start.”

“I did a fashion shoot for a hat designer who found a postcard I’d had printed for my end of uni show; I did a fashion campaign for her and just started getting work from there. I never assisted, so I kind of just made it up as I went along. I still don’t really know what I’m doing [laughter], but here we are 25 years later.”

Rob – “So, speaking of 25 years later, how long have you been a location owner?”

Ed – “So we’ve been in this house for fifteen years and a location house for fourteen of those years. The only reason we actually didn’t start sooner was because the house wasn’t ready. We moved in and the interior was still a bit of a building site.”

Rob – “1st Option were one of the first companies to start the industry around twenty years ago, so you’ve been around since the very early days”

Ed – “Yes, there are so many location agencies now, but there really are only a few that are ‘professional agencies’. And they’re the ones we like to work with most. My advice for anyone who wants to become a location house – go with the big professional agencies that have years of experience, like 1st Option. They’re the companies that will bring you the most work, they’re the companies that will look after you. And to be honest, it’s the smaller agencies that can actually lose you money. They might book you up for days and days, not be on the ball and forget to let you know that the client has released. You then find out those days are now free at the last minute, meaning you miss out on other potential shoots. It’s all those little things that are incredibly important and make the difference.”

Rob – “What encouraged you to start taking shoots 14 years ago?”

Ed – “Well, I used to shoot a lot of lifestyle, renting all these location houses. So I quickly built a picture of what worked and what didn’t. One of the reasons I actually decided to take a minimalist approach here was that, when I got to shoots, the location would be wonderful with all this amazing ephemera – you’d be like wow, all these objects are fascinating – but they were all very personal and not right for our shoot. So, we’d often spend the first hour of our day moving other people’s stuff, which is a waste of your shoot time. I thought to myself, this doesn’t work, so I decided if I were to do it, minimalism would be the way forward. We have personal items, but we keep them away, out of sight or in one of our many storage units around the house. But I do think minimalism is really good for a shoot location; just concentrate on creating interesting angles and potential for creative shots.”

Rob – “So I’m guessing you had becoming a shoot location in mind, prior to building?”

Ed – “I did yes, absolutely! First and foremost, it’s our home, so that was the priority, but David and I did work very carefully on the direction of the light during the day, trying to maximise that, whilst creating interesting angles.”

“Actually, touching on your question earlier about if the colour black was always in mind for the cladding, I always wanted the house to be wood, so we decided to clad the exterior like this. We were going to leave it in its natural state, however, we found that the exterior weathered very quickly and unevenly, even while we were still building. It looked scruffy and patchy, so David came up with the idea of staining it. We tried out all these samples from brown all the way to black and it was an easy decision in the end. It actually works perfectly for shoots, it’s a very neutral colour that you can put any fashion against and it will look great.”

Rob – “I think it ties in perfectly with the minimalist aesthetic as well.”

Rob – “So, moving on, what’s been your favourite shoot to date?”

Ed – “Oh wow, we’ve had so many, occasionally we get to meet celebrities – we try to stay out the way, but occasionally you open the door to them. There was this one time, however, where David Attenborough turned up to the shoot and the crew weren’t ready for him. So I greeted him, brought him in and made him a cup of tea. He’s exactly how you would imagine him to be, extremely interested in everything, and had loads of questions about the house and me and the family. He’s just genuinely interested in what you have to say. We told him we had a three day old baby at the time, so he asked to meet her; we now have a photo with David Attenborough holding our three day old baby.”

“The nice thing is, pretty much every shoot we have here is interesting. If you want a unique shoot location, it’s normally for an interesting reason.”

“Another cool shoot we had here was Stormzy. He was a really nice and decent bloke. The whole crew were. After that, we had loads of grime shoots, we became the house of grime. We’d always joke after they left, we’d say we’re cleaning up the scene of the grime [laughter]. So we had all the grime shoots here, but what we found funny was on camera they try to give off this persona of gang culture and such, but in reality, they’re all really lovely people, very polite and respectful of your home.”

Rob – “I guess to make it in that industry, having the drive to get out of the rough areas they’ve grown up in, means they must be decent people”

Ed – “I guess, not always, but to be successful in any industry, it pays to be nice. We had Gillian Anderson here recently for NET-A-PORTER and we couldn’t hear all of it, but she was so lovely to everyone. You could tell that she didn’t think she was above anyone. It’s a breath of fresh air when you have that level of fame and it still hasn’t gone to your head. There was a really nice atmosphere around her.”

Rob – “So what exactly encouraged you to sign up with 1st Option?”

Ed – “So I guess it’s what I touched on earlier, 1st Option’s reputation on being one of the most widely known and most used agencies in the country. I think I had also booked locations with you guys before, so I knew you were reputable. Before I started, I didn’t really know much about any of the agencies, but working with 1st Option is and has been great since the start. It’s the professionalism and care you get; the little things, however small you think they may be. For example, as small as putting the client name in the subject heading of an email. So many other agencies will just put things like ‘stills shoot’ or ‘new enquiry’ and it’s like they’re all new enquiries and shoots, how do you expect us to rifle through all the enquiries we get and find the right one, especially if they are all titled the same thing. We might have a couple shoots a week, but we might have five enquiries a week, so it can get frustrating trying to go through all the emails.”

“The communication at 1st Option is also amazing, you guys keep us informed on the status of the shoot every step of the way, even if the client hasn’t made a decision yet. Just getting an email once a week keeping us informed with where the client is at, goes a very long way.

“A lot of these new agencies will get in touch, say a month before a shoot, we pencil in the date, a month will go by with no word. Inevitably we then have to turn down other shoots because of this, as we had a 1st with the original company. It comes to the week of the shoot, we email to see what’s going on and they get back to us saying ‘oh that was pulled weeks ago, very sorry.’ We then lose out on another shoot, which is very annoying. Just having that level of professionalism makes a huge difference.”

Stay tuned for the second part of this amazing interview! In part two we will be diving into Ed’s design style, how it influenced his one-of-a-kind home and the work that went into building such a unique property.

Top Interior Design Trends for 2022

2021 was a year of change and growth for everyone – homes have become a hybrid of living and working, as well as our much needed sanctuaries away from the uncertainty of the pandemic. Nevertheless, our endeavour has been seen front and centre and we have stood up to all tests, turning things like working from home into positives. 2022 is going to see this progress and working from home is going to be part of everyday life for the foreseeable future. However, we will see a variation on the traditional ways of looking at this; sustainability and a renewed interest in the natural world is bringing about hybrid, versatile settings, restructuring the way we look at space. And if we look directly at design touches, you can already see that antique, vintage and retro aesthetics are starting to have their time in the light again. Make sure to read on as we look further into the changes in design, what colours will be on the rise and the materials you can expect to see more of in 2022.

Re working of living spaces 

Cast your eye back to our 2021 interior design predictions and you may remember that we forecasted the boom of the home office; 2022 will see this taken a step further embracing the trend towards hybrid working, necessitating a move to a more evolved work space. The home has become a blend between a professional space and our haven to relax. Rather than segregating or zoning different areas within the house – one for working, one for entertaining and relaxing – 2022 will see spaces become more versatile, with the ability for furniture to have multiple uses. Rather than going overboard and turning a room that was previously used for entertaining, into an office space, find furniture that can be used for both and still looks attractive. Open-plan living has become so popular that people don’t want to zone off their homes anymore. This is leading to pieces of furniture having dual functions that can adapt throughout the day. The key is to design comfortable work spaces that can easily be tweaked to create an entertaining or relaxing space, through the use of ergonomic chairs that look attractive, good storage options that can tuck away your work mess and beautiful desks that would look fantastic anywhere. 

Driftwood and Lotus showing how you can re work living spaces

Age of the antique

The age of antique has returned, with vintage and antique finds becoming an increasingly important trend as we head into 2022. With people’s tastes becoming progressively discernible, along with issues with supply chain over the past year or so, we are seeing a movement towards buying one off antiques, as opposed to the mass produced pieces that too often end up in everyone’s living rooms. With the focus on the environment and sustainable ways to live, we are seeing upcycling become more popular year on year – Millennials and Gen Z are now looking to markets and vintage stores rather than chains that mass produce. More than simply providing alternatives to the fast fashion prototype, vintage and antique finds have one-of-a-kind details that make them perfect for showcasing your personal creativity, character and individuality – homes should celebrate people’s uniqueness, and furniture choices are a great way to do this. Antique furniture has a story to tell and as such, can become great conversation starters; this is especially popular with wooden furniture. We have seen mid-century pieces at the forefront of design for a while now, however, decorative antiques with ornate carvings are having a moment as they tell their own story of history. This is evident in the fact that we are seeing increasing amounts of antique dealers pop up all across the country. We are now at a point where fast fashion is producing pastiche, highlighting the moment that antiques really are having.

Antique furniture on display at Henderson Road and Alexandra

Return of retro 

The past six months has seen a definite trend towards vintage, antique and retro purchases. People don’t want modern, mass produced items anymore; they are looking for one-of-a-kind pieces that tell a story. Nothing tells a story more than a retro piece of furniture that oozes nostalgic character. By harking back to the 60’s/70’s/80’s, you are able to introduce bold, notable, standout furniture that really add to your space; statement pieces such as velvet armchairs, plush comfy rounded chairs, eye-catching mirrors etc. This was already starting to show towards the end of 2021 with a resurgence of nostalgic design references like coloured glass, boucle and metallics that were popular in the past. Over the next year, expect to see retro lighting make a huge resurgence with the 70’s trend of luxe greens, sunshine yellows and warm orange hues, as well as mushroom lamps. 

Palm Springs and Gee Street showcasing their retro pieces of furniture

Natural materials 

As mentioned above, we are seeing a shift towards a credence on sustainability with the rise of biophilia and an increased exposure to climate change over the last few years. Once a view becomes the dominant narrative that people subscribe to, you tend to see it eek into all branches of society; this is especially true of the interior design world. With this current revolt against fast fashion, looking for quality materials, timelessness and longevity, we are seeing people build their spaces by incorporating elements that epitomise their surroundings. Consumers are shifting towards reclaimed woods, recycled and steel piping, as well as vintage textiles, fabrics and materials. So expect to see more sustainable materials like cork making appearances in 2002 – it brings warmth and texture to any surface or space, whilst insulating the room. The perfect addition to a 2022 kitchen!

Natural materials are ever-present at Hillside and Henley Barn

Dark accents and earthy tones

Dark accents are going to have their time in the proverbial sun next year. Not only are they great ways to add depth to any space, they look amazing on hardware furniture; adding a real touch of class. As a base, dark colours are very neutral, however if used as an accent alongside light neutrals, dark accents can really contrast a space. Think about black accessories to help accentuate an area and add interesting depth – the key is to add contrast and weight to your rooms. You may have had your Instagram feeds flooded with dark and moody palettes this year, however experts, like Elle Decor and House Beautiful are seeing a shift towards richer, deeper hues in the new year. Brown, copper and earthy tones, mixed with black and grey look great and touch on the natural side of things, which will play a huge part next year. Play around with pieces of furniture in dark rich colours as your accents, offset against your earthier tones. 

Bella and Ashby show how to complement space with dark accents

Textured fabrics

Whether it’s because we have spent the past two years becoming more accustomed with our homes and getting cosy, or whether it was just time, textured fabrics will reign supreme in 2022. Cosy fabrics aren’t just for the bedroom or storage cupboards anymore, you can easily throw a chic blanket over a sofa and have it elevate a space, adding texture and dimensions to any room. The ‘it’ fabrics to look out for are velvet, boucle, sherpa, jersey and twill. They are all incredibly comfortable and cosy materials; perfect for the modern homeowner spending more time inside. They are also exceptionally chic, allowing you to stay cosy whilst entertaining your friends and family. 

Check out the textured fabrics on show at Clayhill and Jux

Living room bars 

Something else that working from home and hybrid living has brought into view is living room bars and drinks trolleys in contemporary settings. Where drinks trolleys were exclusively part of the Art Deco scene before, we are now seeing them enter the conventional family home and look great within them. If you have unused space, creating a drink shelf or cupboard is simple and adds oodles of style to the room. If space is limited, the drinks trolley can double up as an extra piece of furniture; they scream Art Deco, so will add a sense of opulence to any area and are great conversation starters! 

Bella and Havana with two of the most striking living room bars

Houseplants, Houseplants, Houseplants!

The move towards health and wellness is on the rise within all aspects of society. This has been adopted by almost all industries and none more so than interior design. This is evident in Biophilic design, which has been growing exponentially in popularity over the last 2 years. If we look at interior design as a concept that begins with the experience, taking into consideration the emotional, physical and mental needs of people, then it is a human-centred reflection of how we live today. As we are focusing on the promotion of health, welfare and sustainable living, it is intuitive to see and understand why biophilia has become such an influential and popular trend in interior design, with the benefits intrinsically connected with nature. When we interact with nature we gain satisfaction, inspiration, peace and therefore improve our wellbeing. 

Different ways to introduce plants to a pace and Fern and Palm Residence

Blue to boom

After the turmoil that the world has endured this past year, it makes sense that a colour that promotes tranquillity, peace and calm would be the focus in 2022. Last year, Dulux named “Bright Skies” as its colour of the year. It’s light and airy – making it perfect for any bedroom, or a gorgeous base hue for a bathroom or kitchen. By now it’s well documented that colours can have an effect on your mood; blue brings us closer to nature with its natural elements, helping us to relax, so it makes sense that it is being used more than in years gone by. Whether you add a dark blue feature wall or incorporate a blue textured quilt, the colour is known to help calm the mind and produce a feeling of tranquillity – and who doesn’t need that in 2022. However, blue isn’t prominent just for its relaxing benefits, but also its boldness and warmth help form a far better background for other pieces within your home.

Bobbin with a light shade of blue and Magpie opting for a darker shade

Top five for November

As 2021 rapidly draws to a close, we thought we’d provide one last chance to populate your mood boards with breathtaking interior inspiration. What a year it has been for taking on new properties! We have taken on more in 2021 than ever before and every month seemingly outdoes the last; with the quality of new locations continuing to rise. November has been no exception – taking on over twenty new locations last month, all offering something interesting and different. So, without further ado, let’s get into our top five for November; you’ll be hard pressed to find a more varied and eclectic mix of properties. From architect-designed new builds in London, renovated barns and tropical family homes oozing with colour and opulence personified in Oxfordshire, there is something for everyone this month.

Celeste 

First up this month, we give you one of the most unique designs you’re likely to see this year. Currently exclusive to 1st Option, Celeste strikes you with mesmerising, memorable touches from first glance. Situated atop Wimbledon Hill, far reaching views are immediate and opportunely accessible from most areas within the house. The property itself has a unique, three-tiered design, which perfectly complements a striking contemporary aesthetic, inside and out. Thanks to its one-of-a-kind layout, the location is teeming with natural light that floods in through the enormous floor-to-ceiling windows – perfectly accentuating the crisp modern aesthetic found throughout. It is this three-tiered design, connected by unique voids, with double and triple height ceilings, as well as the central staircase, that make Celeste one of the most alluring shoot locations on our books. Enough with the architectural elements though, we must talk about some of the outstanding interior features. On the lower ground floor there is a wonderfully spacious kitchen/ diner with an inviting snug. This is separated by huge crittal doors, which overlook the gorgeous manicured back garden. Furthermore, the engineered oak wooden floorboards found throughout showcase a premium feel all over. Thanks to its totally unique design (with areas that not only overlook from one floor to another, but have the capacity to look up through three floors), we would recommend small and large scale filming, as well as stills at Celeste.

Celeste showcasing its unique architecture and premium interiors

Palm Residence 

Moving from contemporary and grand, to period and colourful, we give you our second location this month: Palm Residence. This eye-catching property is a Victorian semi, hailing from East London, that utilises the whole colour spectrum in a magical way. This utterly vibrant family home features a tropical palette throughout, offering a vintage feel from room to room, inspired by colonial villas. Finding striking imagery won’t be a difficulty at Palm Residence, with every room offering a different eclectic mix. Each room is full of texture and colour, however they all showcase different looks and feels – from 70s Ibiza with bamboo wallpaper, to beach bars in Mykonos full of pastel hues. Likewise, there’s a moody members lounge with a roaring fire and a tropical veranda with an array of flora, making for a truly incredible shoot location. If you somehow still weren’t sold on Palm Residence, there is also a spacious 80ft garden with wooden decking, a fire pit and a huge palm tree. There are views to the front and free parking outside, allowing for small-scale film crews, as well as photographic still crews. 

Palm Residence has a striking tropical palette throughout

Halo  

Set in the middle of a third of an acre plot of land on a secluded road in Streatham Hill, our third location house this month is full of treasures, once you venture within its perimeters. The property has recently been completely rebuilt and extended beyond its original site, which was previously in the 1930’s arts and crafts style. However, what you see in front of you today is a contemporary take on the original building, with wonderful volume, asymmetry and exceptional craftsmanship. Nevertheless, this isn’t where this unassuming house finishes flaunting its treasure trove of wonders; once inside you’ll immediately encounter a 6.5m high climbing wall that takes you from the ground floor all the way to the top. Following this completely one-of-a-kind feature is a gorgeous, bespoke oak and brushed brass staircase, with lighting to match. On the ground floor you’ll find a huge music/ playroom with a harp, guitar, a grand piano and a pool table to mix things up. If this wasn’t enough, there is also a basement wine cellar with adjoining cinema room. To top it off, the first floor has a mezzanine level which is only accessible by a secret staircase or a climbing tree respectively. If classic design pieces are your thing, you can also find an original Eames armchair in the study, with views of the beautifully curated Japanese-inspired garden through gorgeous crittal doors. With its array of unique touches, going hand in hand with the size of the property, we would recommend filming as well as stills at Halo

Halo offers striking imagery everywhere you look

Kilim Barn 

Next up is the striking Kilim Barn – a newly renovated, industrial-style agricultural brick building with outstanding, uninterrupted views of the picturesque surrounding countryside. Standout features here include eye-catching wooden beams, the huge vaulted ceiling with accompanying skylights that flood the space with natural light, the original exposed brickwork found throughout the majority of the property and a contemporary gallery that overlooks the kitchen and the main hall. The aesthetic is extremely industrial-chic, with mismatched irregular-sized stripped oak floorboards in the main hall and herringbone walnut wood in the drawing room. In the kitchen you can also find large stone-coloured porcelain tiles that compliment the exposed brick and wooden beams. With the size of the barn and the accompanying grounds, filming and stills are perfect options at Kilim Barn

Eccelectic interiros at Kilim Barn

Rooke 

From a traditional agricultural barn, to a new build that screams opulence, our final location this November is Rooke – a modern four bed family home, located by the River Thames in Oxfordshire. Similarly to Halo, on the outside, Rooke may appear a modest family home, however, once inside, you unearth a plethora of incredible features that wouldn’t be out of place in a celebrity’s mansion on the east-west axis of the Hollywood Hills. Set within an exquisite landscaped garden, with outstanding views of the surrounding hills, Rooke has an abundance of incredible elements to offer potential clients. Outside you’ll find a hot tub, a swimming pool and an exotic tiki bar with a straw roof to match. And inside doesn’t disappoint either. Upon entering, you’ll feast your eyes on a cinema room, an indoor bar, a spiral wine cellar and a whole host of premium furnishings. With an abundance of natural light and tons of open-plan space, Rooke makes for a perfect film and stills shoot location. 

Premium and opulence personified at Rooke


Ask the Location Owner: Episode 8

Ask the Location Owner: Episode 8

Rob – “Hello and welcome to another episode of Ask the Location owner. This week we were lucky enough to go round and have a chat with Ed Reeve of Blackwood House.”

Ed – “Hello I’m Ed – Welcome to Blackwood House”

Rob – “What Inspired you to become a shoot location?”

Ed – “I’m a photographer, I used to do a lot of lifestyle photography, renting locations so I thought it was a great idea. When we built this house, I could see it would really work well for other shoots.”

Rob – “Could you describe your design style and how it has influenced Blackwood House?”

Ed – “My design style… Well, I’m a minimalist, so I don’t like a lot of stuff, but I think it really works for a location house because shoot crews can arrive and they don’t have to spend the first hour moving all our stuff. We’ve got a very simple, clean interior, so they can just get on with their shoot and make the most of their shoot day.”

Rob – “What is your craziest shoot story to date?”

Ed – “Probably our most interesting shoot that we’ve had here and we’ve had loads of fascinating shoots, but we had David Attenborough here. And our daughter was three days old. So, he turned up and the shoot crew weren’t ready, so they asked if I could make him a cup of tea and keep him busy, while they finished setting up. He was fascinated by the house, wanting to know if it was a family home. So, I said well, we’ve got a three-day-old daughter. So, he said where is she. So, I brought her out and I’ve got all these lovely photos of David Attenborough holding our new baby.  It was this incredibly wonderful moment having David Attenborough hold your child.”

Rob – “What makes Blackwood House a great shoot location?”

Ed – “Well we’ve got loads of great natural light. We’ve got big windows, skylights, so it’s a great location for natural light. We also have great architectural angles so you can shoot in all sorts of different corners and get a whole range of looks. There’s also lots of great backdrops, lots of black backdrops. We’ve got the black decking outside, black cupboards, some blue cupboards also. But yeah, lots of neutral colours to shoot against. So, you’ll find plenty of variety. There’s lots of dark wood, the stairs are a dark wood. You’ll not be short of great spots to shoot at here.”

Top five for October

It’s that time of the month again; the time where we like to make your lives a whole lot easier. At the start of a new month, we like to rifle through the previous, to cherry-pick the best locations we had register with us for your perusal. October was an incredible month for new locations, with properties ranging from stately homes in Greater London, to classic architect-designed houses in the Surrey Hills. Read on as we break down our top five for October, giving you a wide selection of remarkable properties to shoot at. 

Bella 

First on our list this month is Bella, a spectacular stately home inspired property, built in 1887 and located in Greater London – not often seen for this style of build. This exceptional shoot location features an extraordinary blend of opulent, eccentric, classic and contemporary design, leaving you with one of the most versatile shoot locations you’re ever likely to see. This is epitomised by the standout areas found all across the location. Take a look at the kitchen/ dining area, partitioned by a striking crittal divider – here you will find a whole host of opulent furniture, a marble kitchen island and period pieces, including cornices and ceiling roses. Other notable touches in this astonishing house include a sweeping marble staircase (set over four floors) leading to the modern spa area, fitted with an indoor and outdoor pool; both of which are divided by a super-cool ‘James Bond’ style lifting glass door. To top off this prodigious property, there is also a gym, a basement bar, a library and two walk-in wardrobes. Due to its host of amenities and size, Bella is ideal for small and large-scale filming as well as photographic stills. 

Tulum

Leaving London briefly, we take a short trip to one of the home counties for our next find. Check out Tulum in Hampshire, a fabulous Victorian property showcasing a stark ‘colonial’ exterior, thanks to its square form and original blue shutters found on every window. The property itself is a superb shoot location due to its interesting, eclectic and colourful interior design. Full of period features, this striking shoot location showcases high ceilings, original cornicing, sash windows and a blend of tiled and wooden flooring throughout. A standout asset of Tulum is that it offers a rare opportunity to obtain many different styles of shot under one roof; some of the rooms have bright and colourful wallpaper, while others are calm and full of plants. Conversely, some rooms combine hits of bright colour, juxtaposing interesting art and antiques. The kitchen space is especially noteworthy, with bi-fold doors, wooden floorboards and an open-plan aesthetic, making it ideal for filming and photoshoots. 

Hillside 

Next up is Hillside, a spectacular arts and crafts house designed by the acclaimed architect and father of arts and crafts architecture, Philip Webb. Situated high up in the Surrey Hills – an area of outstanding beauty – Hillside offers magnificent views of the surrounding land, all the way to the coast. This property boasts a simple interior, with a mix of traditional and contemporary design, including a whole host of striking elements. Check out the circular brick loft hatch, the glass floor between the hall and the first floor, the blend of oak and parquet flooring, the exposed brick and the wooden beams found throughout. To further add to the magnitude of the location, the majority of the space is open plan and there is a games room, as well as a luxurious freestanding copper bath found in one of the bedrooms. Due to the uninterrupted landscape, as well as the size of the grounds and the location itself, Hillside is ideal for small and large scale filming as well as photoshoots.

Dundonald 

We bring you back to London for our fourth choice this month – welcome to Dundonald, a memorable five bedroom family home set over three floors in North West London. The property itself is over 100 years old and offers a whole host of period features, including an original stained-glass front door, bay windows, high ceilings with ornate detailing, original fireplaces, cornicing and original wooden floorboards. The standout detail of Dundonald, however, is its unique back-to-front layout. Conversely to most interior designs, Dundonald showcases the reception room at the rear of the property, with the kitchen/ dining room taking centre stage at the front, as you walk in. The colour palette blends a darker, more arresting aesthetic downstairs with lighter hues on the second and third floors. Venture outside through the magnificent garden to find the striking summer house, equipped with a hammock and chill-out space. Thanks to the open-plan nature of the interior and the large rear garden, we would advise stills and small-scale filming at Dundonald. 

Turney 

If you were to imagine a beautiful family home located in South West London, our final location, Turney, would probably be the image that comes to mind. The traditional double-fronted period property has been adorned with a sumptuous rear extension, housing the gorgeous kitchen/ dining room. Natural light immerses the space, bringing the ceiling beams and exposed brick right to the fore. The kitchen also has a unique marble countertop and backsplash, which is illuminated by the vast skylight above. The two other living areas in the original house both offer period touches including cornicing, bay windows and original fireplaces, however, the lounge area on the ground floor juxtaposes the rest of the property with its dark painted walls. If you are looking for an eye-catching family home, full of premium qualities, Turney could be ideal for you. With its bright and spacious, open-plan kitchen, we believe Turney would be ideal for any kitchen shoots that come your way. 

New Location Showcase – The Rock

In the second of our new series of videos highlighting some of our favourite locations, we bring you the incredibly unique and eye-catching The Rock

Located in the hills of Devon, a short walk from Woolacombe beach and under 30 minutes drive from Barnstaple station, The Rock is easily accessible by car and train. 

The property itself is extremely modern, with the exterior entirely clad in Shou Sugi Ban, a Japanese black burnt wood. 

The inviting hallway looks out upon the open-plan kitchen/ dining/ living room, which is completely finished with polished concrete flooring, offering an outstanding industrial-chic aesthetic. 

Here you will find a glorious wooden kitchen island, finished with a black marble countertop, a bar, a blend of modern and mid-century modern furniture, a large suspended fireplace and wall-to-wall sliding glass doors, offering extraordinary views of the sea and surrounding hills. 

Off to the right at the top of the property is the second open-plan space. Similarly to the other area, this section of the property is also finished with polished concrete flooring, white painted walls, includes a whole host of memorable artwork and features tons of flora throughout. 

There are four bedrooms in the Rock, all found on the left side of the property. The master and the fourth bedroom are both finished with the crisp white aesthetic found throughout the rest of the property, whilst the second and third bedrooms are both conversely completed with an arresting and moody dark palette. Each bedroom features an ensuite and picturesque views of the surrounding hills. 

The main bathroom adds vibrancy through a shattered marble effect and features a deep freestanding bath, found in a glorious shower room. 

The house is equipped with Wi-Fi, 3-phase power, an ironing board, blackout blinds and the owner is happy to provide tea & coffee for crews. 

Decorating is allowed, along with animals, food shoots and children, and the owner is happy to host small and large-scale filming.

There is access along the side of the property, where you will also find a large outdoor hot tub and there is a large driveway, with space for up to four cars.  

For dog lovers, the house also has a family pet called Lexi

Despite The Rock being some way outside of London, you will struggle to find a more unique and eye-catching property, so if you are okay with travelling to the coast you won’t regret it! 

If you’d like to consider The Rock for your next project, feel free to give us a call to find out more. 

Bright colours and how to decorate with them

For the longest time, fresh, crisp and muted colour palettes have dominated the interior scape. However, the tides are shifting thanks to trends like maximalism and grandmillennial style. Colour in the home is taking strides away from the child’s bedroom, into the kitchen, living room and the rest of the house. Decorating with colour has often been seen as daunting and scary; not all colours match and it can be easy to get wrong. Nevertheless, if implemented in the right way, decorating with bright colours can create an adult space, with delightful hits of personality and character. Stay with us as we explore the nuances that go into the implementation of colour – where to start, what to do if you are a bit colour shy and how to not saturate your space with too much/ the complete wrong combination. 

Pop and Soho Loft showing colour doesn’t have to be scary

Choose your backdrop first and add colour accordingly

The key to making bright colour work in interior design is choosing the right backdrop! Choose the backdrop first to keep the sparks of colour in control and add accents for a milder take. If you want the colour to pop and stand out, go for a dark background. On the other hand, neutral backdrops help bring out the warmth in subtle pastels. In photography, there is the term: ‘black balance’. Most high-end cameras have the feature built in to help calibrate shades of black, this is done to make the colour in shot more vibrant. To translate this to interior design, add a dark element to the design and this will bring the brighter colours to the fore, catching the viewer’s eye. A brilliant way to achieve this is the 60-30-10 strategy. Find a suitable colour for the backdrop, one that fades into the background and doesn’t take up too much attention for 60% of the room’s colour. Then complement this with a second colour for 30% of the room. Finally, accent the room with the remaining 10%. If you want to go for a more neutral backdrop, pinks and pastels are the greatest ways to add colour without saturating the space. 

Billie effortlessly adds colour to a neutral backdrop, while Tierney showcases the 60-30-10 rule

Consider your focal point  

When it comes to bright colours in the home, it is all too easy to go overboard and splash colour everywhere. However, this can have a lot of negative effects, including colour clashing, over-saturation and a complete lack of flow and cohesion in the room. Having a focal point is necessary to tie the room together, giving you that needed harmony for a cohesive room. A focal point can be anything that helps anchor the colour scheme, this can be a table, a piece of art, or perhaps a statement piece of colourful furniture. If you have opted for a neutral or dark backdrop and don’t know where to start, a statement piece could be the ideal tool that ties the rest of the colour in the room together. If there is a vibrant colour scheme going on, a multicoloured item could be a great anchor. The flamboyant tones create a harmonious atmosphere. If a statement piece is too much for your decor, a feature wall could be perfect to add colour – this also acts as a great anchor for the rest of the room. The key here is to figure out the focal point and tie the rest of the room in with it.

Bella uses a feature wall and Kombu uses the backsplash as a focal point

Accent colour through the use of accessories 

Accenting is the art of using colour in small amounts to add interest to the overall colour scheme. It can be a great place to start as it doesn’t saturate a space. The aim for accenting colour is to either complement or contradict the overall palette, creating an emotional response in the viewer. Implementing accents also has the ability to add personality to any space – this is achieved through having fun with the design. Include your character wherever possible. Accents are added in small amounts and don’t take up much room; because of this, they are easy to change if the colour doesn’t look right. Cushions, throws and blankets can be the ideal accessories when entering the world of accent colours; they aren’t permanent, they won’t over-saturate the space and they are easy to change with the seasons. When opting for a neutral backdrop, play around with pastel hues, if darker colour schemes are more to your taste however, experiment with bolder, more vibrant colours. 

Havana and Tierney show exactly how to accent with colour

Complementary colours

It goes without saying that not all colours were created equal. Some work incredibly well with others, while some stick out like a blot on a landscape! With colour, the key is to understand that there are rules to adhere to; however quirky the aesthetic is, however unique the room is, certain colours cannot go with one another. Colour combinations like purple and red, yellow and pink and silver and yellow are great examples of combos that should never go together! Complementary colours are polar opposites on the colour wheel, they are often seen as a challenge to match with each other. If thought about and implemented correctly, they can create a harmonious balance in any design. The powerful contrast of complementary colours can be very sharp, creating a crisp and arresting aesthetic that really stands out. Usually, when choosing a contrasting colour scheme, it’s important to choose the primary colour first and use the secondary for accents. This choice will set the impression of the final result  –  leaving you with a warm or cool design. 

Complementary colours on show at Marilyn

Analogous colours

On the other hand, there are analogous colours. This refers to three colours next to each other on the wheel; these create a more relaxing, monochromatic feel. They are usually composed of one dominant primary colour, a supporting colour and a third colour that is either made up of a blend of the other two or an accent colour that pops. When choosing an analogous colour scheme, the key is to understand moderation and recognise that small touches with a neutral base go a long way. The 60-30-10 rule will help you keep to your colour scheme and works perfectly for an analogous colour scheme. 60% for the walls and large furniture, 30% for smaller furniture and rugs and 10% for accents and accessories. 

60-30-10 strategy showcasing how to use analogous colours at Tierney

Suit the purpose

Many think this is enough understanding to create the perfect space, however, not every colour suits the purpose of every room. Different colours have different psychological effects – blues tend to be calming, while reds can bring about excitement and energy. Make sure the colour scheme chosen fits the room it’s going in, complementary colours may not be the best idea in a reading nook or dining room, they tend to be brighter and therefore wouldn’t achieve the relaxing effect you are looking for. On the other hand, the analogous, calming colours like a pastel pink with a duck-egg blue could be ideal. 

Bobbin and Kempshott Road show that colour must suit the purpose of the room

Follow these simple steps and you will be adding colour to your home like a top interior designer in no time. If you would like to see some examples of how colour can be implemented into the home, negating the fear often associated with it, click here to check out some of our top properties that utilise colour within the home. 

In Conversation with Louise Hardy & Nick Barr of Dacres

Rob – “Hey guys, how are you doing today?”

Nick – “Well, it’s a bit early in the morning (laughter), but no it’s okay, all good over here. I’d like it to be a bit sunnier for your trip, but there’s nothing I can do about that.”

Rob – “Summer just hasn’t arrived has it?” 

Nick – “Yeah exactly, but no all is well, you’re (Louise) busy aren’t you… I’ve got nothing to do today, so it’s an all round great Friday.” 

Rob – “So for our readers, tell me a little bit about yourselves. What do you both do for a living?”

Louise – “Well I wear two hats – I work as a PA to an actor, which I’ve done for 30 years and when I’m not doing that, I’m an artist in which I exhibit regularly. I have a show next month, I had one in June also. I’m also about to start an MA in painting at City and Guilds in Kennington which will last for two years, so yeah it’s all pretty busy. Exciting creative times!”

Nick – “And I’m a freelance viola player. I was in the London Symphony Orchestra and I do film and tv work, but the wheels have sort of come off there due to Covid. I also tour with St Martins, but obviously there’s been none of that. Although, fingers crossed we might be going to Bucharest & Prague early September, but again there’s all sorts of hoops to be jumped through.”

The West End has also started up again, so I’m doing bit’s with Les Mis and Phantom, which is nice – I haven’t played Phantom since the mid 80/90s, however, but it will all come back. When I’m not doing that, which has been quite a lot this past year, I spend a lot of time in the garden. That’s my department and inside is Lou’s – she’s in charge of the soft furnishings and I dig things (laughter)”

Rob – “We’ll definitely touch on that a bit later. So it’s more Orchestral stuff?” 

Nick – “Yeah mainly, but I do studio, pop stuff as well, when there’s strings on like Will Young or…” 

Rob – “Have your worked with anyone I’d know”

Nick – “Yeah I’m on ‘Nothing Breaks Like a Heart’, by Miley Cyrus. But yeah, I do loads of that kind of stuff, been doing it for about 30 years. There are some famous songs I’ve been on, but I can’t remember now. I’ve been on a lot of Will Young, he’s been very good to me over the years.” 

Rob – “A lot of love for Will Young then ahah. So you say you’re an artist, what’s your favourite medium?”

Louise – “Well I work in oils at the moment, which I hadn’t for a long time. It’s only been the past 3 or 4 years that I’ve started using that medium, before that it was anything but; my work was much more water based. So yes, the work in the last ten years has mainly been based on the River Thames, up until about a year ago, when it moved onto great rivers of the world. But it’s mainly been the River Thames because my office is in Limehouse. So I’ve been lucky enough to see Canary Wharf grow from nothing and document it through my work. But that was a long time ago. Since then it’s been aerial cityscapes.”

Rob – “Yeah I was going to say – I’ve had a look at your work and I saw the piece, Ghost City, I was blown away by it. It’s so cool”

Louise – Thank you, so I had a show in June or July and I sold that one – was the first one that went. I actually sold quite a lot at that event.” 

Rob – “So was that more experimental?”

Louise –Yes, experimental indeed! It’s a new artistic avenue and journey. It’s very new and the work I’m currently doing is similar but slightly different; I’m trying lots of new things with that theme.” 

Rob – “Yeah it’s really fascinating, mixing the photo transfer with paint. It really is an amazing way of looking at art!”

Rob – “So I was going to ask what your influences are, but I guess it would be cityscapes or the Thames?

Louise – “Well you know, people ask me that and it changes from week to week. It depends who or what I’m looking at. On this one it varied, there was Anselm Kiefer, Gerhard Richter, Peter Doig, all those people. I take inspiration from everywhere, I like to take all the best bits.” 

Rob – “Speaking of influences, do you think your backgrounds in music and art have had any influence on the design of your house” 

Louise – “I think so, we do love designing our environment and we do, generally speaking, agree on everything. Even our previous house in Brixton was very designed, not overly designed, but we gave a lot of thought into everything. We’re very interested in different materials aren’t we?” 

Nick – “Yeah definitely, I’ve also got a very good friend who’s an interior designer. He’s been quite successful, so you know we’ve used him as a soundboard; he’s been very good at you know ‘if you want this slate, you have to go here, if you want these tiles…’. He’s pointed us in all the right directions.” 

Louise – “Actually, when we started on the house, I created a book, like a mood board, but a book of places we had seen and been to and wanted this house to have a feel of. So even before we did the kitchen, I gathered together images of places I liked and we just took the best bits and put them together.” 

Rob “The property seems to eb and flow from room to room, did you have a design style in mind beforehand, or did you just take inspiration from places you’ve been and loved.” 

Louise – “Well yeah, certainly with the kitchen extension! It’s such a beautiful house, even before we touched it. You know, if you asked someone to draw a house, they’d draw this wouldn’t they, with the double front and door in the middle. So we wanted to build very sensitively, rather than lumping a big box on the back.” 

Nick – “We were pretty nervous because people would come and say, you’re going to wreck this, you’ll ruin the back. It was very ‘English country house’ before, so we were very nervous about ruining it.” 

Louise – “We wanted a very light structure, so as not to ruin it, like a pavilion, a Japanese pavilion.”

Rob – “Yeah I was going to say, it’s definitely got an Asian feel to it.” 

Louise – “We actually never had a design scheme for the rest of the house to be honest, I think we’ve just let it grow organically.” 

Nick – “Yeah it works much better like this. You see, the four rooms upstairs are well sized, the proportions are really good. But down here we had to knock through the two living rooms to create the open-plan structure you see before you. The music room was small, the two living rooms were small, the kitchen was small. It didn’t flow at all, but now it all comes together.” 

Louise – “With the kitchen, it was mainly about bringing the garden into the house. Being able to see out! The only way we were able to see out previously, was if you were washing up, through a tiny window. So this was all about engaging with the garden.”

Rob – “I think a lot of people are trying to bring the outdoors in these days.” 

Rob – “One thing I wanted to touch on, is how impressive and interesting it is, the way you have successfully tied the whole house together, while implementing different styles and elements across the whole space. Was this something you thought of beforehand or something that has developed over the years?”

Nick – ”Maybe it’s the art that ties it all together. I suppose the kitchen is more industrial with the concrete and the stone.” 

Louise – “Well yeah, that was more designed, while the rest has been more free flow and organic. But it has been dictated by the art we have, for sure. Some of which is mine, I won’t tell you which (laughter). I do also buy friends’ art a lot, we have to support each other. So I think that’s actually quite key in terms of the design.”

Nick – “The look of the whole place comes from that really.”

Rob – “Yeah the place feels very eclectic and characterful, for sure.” 

Nick – “I’m amazed that some houses I go into, there’s nothing on the walls. They don’t feel lived in.”

Rob – “I’ve grown up with my mum filling every inch of our house with paintings, photographs and what-not, so it feels bare, empty and almost soulless when there’s nothing there. I completely agree with you.”

Rob – “Were there any important factors that went into the design of the kitchen?”

Nick – “One thing I remember was Lou didn’t want bi-fold doors.” 

Louise – “The glass was quite important, but fundamentally it was very much about creating a social space for us all to meet in. It’s been a revelation and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I mean we did it three years ago; we would never have gotten it done if we had left it any longer with Covid hitting.”

Rob – “I have to say it looks a lot bigger in person. Not that it looks small in pictures, but when I came through earlier I was definitely taken aback by the size of it.” 

Nick – “It could have been bigger you see, we could have squared it out, but it would have been like a football pitch. We wanted it to feel cosy, while having the space. We wanted something where we weren’t getting our 10,000 steps in while whipping up the risotto.” 

Rob – “So was this your first design?”

Nick – “No, not exactly. We did bits in our old place in Brixton. We went into the loft there, but this was definitely our first major build.”

Rob – “Do you have any advice for anyone looking to do a renovation?”

Nick – “Take the price you’ve been thinking of and double it.” 

Louise – “We actually had such a great experience! We had this amazing architect that I knew before and the most amazing builders we had used before, when we first moved in here. It was an absolute joy, but that’s certainly not everyone’s experience.

If I was to give advice however, I’d probably say go with recommended builders, rather than a company you don’t know. It wasn’t quite to budget, but that was because we kept adding things and we made a few mistakes with things like lights, but they were very happy to move them. I really enjoy choosing materials and elements. We went to this veneer factory out in Beckton, where they have different veneers from different trees from all around the world; we got to choose our oak veneers by hand. I guess for some people they just want it put in and that’s it, but that sort of thing makes me very excited.” 

Nick – “We also picked out the stone as well” 

Louise – “We went for Belgian Blue in the end. The concrete was also done locally, which we were really happy about. Love all that kind of stuff.” 

Rob – “Were you trying to get an industrial feel to it?” 

Nick – “To an extent, but not over the top. No steel piping and such. You have to be careful with concrete, you can’t go overboard with it.” 

Louise – “We do love all the industrial style materials though, stone, slate, concrete etc. I loved the idea of the wood with the stone and concrete. It was exactly how I imagined it. I had tens of photographs of different designs; I spent a lot of time looking at kitchens aha.

We had never actually put in our own kitchen before. We had put in different elements, but had never actually designed a kitchen from scratch. I came across a drawing I had done years ago, I think when we initially bought this place, dreaming of this kitchen and it wasn’t far off you know.” 

Rob – “That’s amazing! Did you guys face any setbacks or challenges when designing?” 

Louise – “Not really, it was quite seamless actually. We were actually able to move out. The guy I work for has a house on the river so we were able to camp there for the duration. 

We drove over everyday to check up on things, and obviously, because the studio is at the back of the garden, I was still working here. It allowed us to make sure everything was going okay.”

Rob – “I suppose the answer is going to be the kitchen, but what’s your favourite element or area of the house?” 

Nick – “It has to be the kitchen. I mean looking out onto the garden is amazing. I remember when it was finished, coming down, looking out and just going ‘wow’! I still do sometimes to be honest.” 

Louise – “I think we felt a bit like an intruder in our own home when it was first finished. I don’t think you could ever tire of coming down, sitting at that table and just looking out onto the garden.” 

Rob – “That actually brings me quite nicely onto my next question – can you tell me a little bit about the garden and any influences you might have had?” 

Nick – “Well the previous owners had been here 15 years I think and they certainly weren’t gardeners. They had made a little bit of a mess of it. However, the owners before them apparently had two gardeners working on it. So they were very keen and everything was very meticulous and particular. But when the previous owners bought the place, they let it go, which actually turned it into a sort of secret garden. It actually made it quite magical – all these gardens have orchards along the back you see. We have around 18 fruit trees, which is great, but now it’s coming up to September and what the hell do you do with all this fruit?”

Louise – “We actually now take our apples to a brewery in Bermondsey. Urban Orchard, they make Hawkes Cider. We take trugs and trugs to them and in return they give us cider. We’ve got apricots coming through now, we also have medlar, which is this amazing ancient fruit, goes back as far as the bible. We also have raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries, loganberries, blackberries and plums.” 

Nick – “Going back to the garden specifically, there are these four lime trees, which were obviously here when we moved in and had been twisted together to make this arch. I actually bring a gardener in to work on them, he comes around once a year and goes up there with cable ties to make sure they bind together. You can actually walk across the top of it, it’s like a whale’s back, he said. It’s like basketery all weaved together, absolutely amazing. 

There’s also two ponds, the one on the right was here when we arrived, which is like a natural pond full of frogs, and we built one to the left of it with a pump and cleaner water.” 

Louise – “The back of the garden was actually like a junkyard when we arrived, so the first thing we did was build the studio. It was a must and something that probably never would have been done if we had waited. I wanted the studio to be across the whole of the back of the garden, but we kept the potting shed next to it, which actually adds a lot of character.” 

Rob – “Do you use the garden for inspiration at all?” 

Louise – “I don’t directly because my work’s not really about the garden, but I do find it very cathartic. My walk to the studio is almost meditative, which definitely has an impact on my work. You know, I am so lucky to have the studio at the back, most people have to go elsewhere for their studios. I always said that my dream would be to work from home. It’s my own little escape area that’s far enough away to disassociate from home, but close enough to put the dryer on if needed.” 

Rob – “So moving on to becoming a shoot location, how did you guys find out about us and come to the realisation that you wanted to do it?”

Nick – “Well we spent an absolute fortune on this place so wanted to recoup some money (laughter).” 

Louise – “Well no, to be honest, a friend of mine has been doing it for a while now, so she and I chatted about it. My daughter also had some friends, who were doing film up in Leeds; they shot a music video here, which was slightly chaotic, but it ended up looking really cool. So they shot through the whole house and the garden for around a week. 

Following that, through a friend, we had a short film shot here for four nights. Since they both went well and looked great on screen, we thought why not give it a go. We might have a film in November but that’s still up in the air. We are newbies to it, but hopefully once we get one shoot, it will take off.”

Rob – “Was it quite surreal seeing your house in a film?”

Nick – “So it was this film about a bunch of girls who get together the night before the funeral of one of their friends. There’s all these girls sitting around my table drinking and dancing. It was quite bizarre to see, but yeah it looked amazing. They’re shooting from outside looking in and it looked awesome all lit up. Apparently there will be a premier of sorts, which we will be invited to. All very cool aha.” 

Rob – “Just before we wrap this up  – for our clients and readers out there, what can you offer to anyone thinking of using Dacres for a shoot? Any Amenities or special features they might not be able to find elsewhere?

Nick – “I suppose there’s a lot of free parking which is key for large production crews. There’s free parking on the road and room for three cars on the drive. The open-plan nature of the house is also great for production teams. We also have a very long side return, which is perfect for crews to get their kit from the front drive through the house. Other unique features – well a massive garden, in respect to London standards, so if anyone needs a large and magical garden, come to us.”   

In the Spotlight: Modern Country Design

Long gone are the days when country design embodied dimly lit, dark farmhouses with ubiquitous amounts of knitted tea cosies, traditional florals and checkered prints. Country design has grown immeasurably over the last few decades, now not merely resigned just for country dwellers; the design style is now commonplace everywhere around the UK. Differing from the traditional interpretations, modern country design allows for playful and nuanced elements that are creating an idyllic classic. The key is to blend the old with the new – old-fashioned comfort brought into the modern world, creating a cosy feeling that celebrates the outdoors, without looking too kitschy. A successful country design will combine the best elements of rustic and vintage interiors, with warmth, personality, character and a hint of minimalism. Stay with us as we explore these features in more detail and how you can implement them within your own home.   

Classic modern country interiors at Nuffield and Mulberry

Use of wood and natural materials

You can’t create a country home without incorporating wooden elements into your design! The idea is to introduce the organic, outdoorsy aesthetic that encompasses the entire style; think exposed beams, wooden panelling and wooden floorboards. Similarly, other natural materials that project the authentic country feel are stone, brick, slate or concrete. Nevertheless, if your property is lacking these elements, or your budget doesn’t quite stretch, you can always use wallpaper or laminate flooring to achieve the effects. Other tricks to affordably accomplish the country vibe can be implemented through installing wooden barn doors, wooden furniture and accessories like wicker and rattan baskets, as well as linen upholstery and rugs made of organic materials. The devil is in the detail, so try to decorate with intricate wood carvings where possible – mix the old with the new and keep an eye out for lattice design windows, intricate wood carving, or old farmhouse tables with new dining chairs. 

Henley Barn and Mulberry showing off exposed brick and wooden beams

Imperfection and informality 

Unlike most other design styles, scratches, scrapes, bumps and nocks are signs of age that are actually sought after and celebrated in modern country design. At the heart of the style is entertaining family and friends, therefore an informal design and layout is key; you do not want your space to feel overly constructed or laid out. In the same way that shabby chic likes its pieces on show to have had a life and tell a story, modern country design dictates that everything in your home shows its personality and character – not to look like it was made for that exact purpose. Kitchens are the hub of a country home and the soul of the kitchen is the kitchen table. A farmhouse kitchen table is a must for any home, the more character and history the better, keep reading for more detail on this later. If you can’t afford to invest in a farmhouse table, drape a checked tablecloth over the table you already have for a cute, country design style hack at minimal cost. Bench seating is perfect for a farmhouse table, it’s bang on trend and gives that informality you are after.

Brook Lodge is a great example of how imperfection is celebrated in a modern country home

Practicality

Without many of the amenities the city provides, country living has always been about practicality. Nothing should be there for the sake of it. If you are looking to achieve the look, make sure there are no superficial trinkets or accessories on show. Accessories do have a place in the country home, however, the idea is to make sure they have a purpose and bring something to the room. Think: minimal fuss, no frills and nothing is too fancy to be used day-in-day-out. Larger furniture pieces that are ideal for a country home are armoires to store your linens and clothing and sizable traditional cabinets to display your crockery, pots, pans, and cooking utensils.

Rural Retreat and Brook Lodge showing that in a country home, everything has a purpose

Warmth and cosiness

As it’s well known, the weather in the countryside of the United Kingdom is hardly to be desired at the best of times – so creating a warm, cosy and inviting atmosphere has always been a must. Adding throws, blankets and warm rugs add depth and texture, whilst achieving that desired snug aesthetic. Classic motifs that are always a win in modern country homes are checkers, tartans and chunky knits. Colour is a great way to add warmth in a space; when it comes to accessories and soft furnishings, consider greens, navies, soft pinks and oranges, as they are perfect for creating that comfortable and intimate vibe.

Poulton Farm and Rural Retreat are two country homes that create a warm and cosy atmosphere

Light and neutral colour scheme

Traditionally, country houses have been decorated with dark and moody colour schemes, with deep woods and brown palettes. However, for the modern aesthetic, you want to create a large and inviting space – achieved through light and airy hues. The aim is to create a neutral backdrop to showcase the more traditional pieces of furniture and accessories; this can be achieved through whitewashed woods, subtle shades of cream and lighter floorboards. When in the kitchen, greys and pale blues work great as they create a light, bright and friendly atmosphere to entertain your family and friends. Pastels are also a fantastic way to accent, as they give you that vibrant pop of colour, without swarming the space. Sage green, mint, dusky rose and taupe are all good choices for warming up a neutral space.

Nuffield and Bazeley House are both decorated with light and neutral colour schemes

Pattern

In spite of the previous modicum of advice, suggesting a neutral colour scheme was the way to achieve a modern country aesthetic, a key component of the look is playful patterns that bring a fresh feeling to the space. Push the boat out and shy away from traditional motifs. Instead, put a modern twist on a floral pattern; perhaps enlarge it to look more contemporary or subtract the colour altogether and go for a monochrome adaptation. Geometric prints are very popular at the moment, implement on walls, floors or even as decoration for a boho twist. Brickwork and other linear designs are also simple but effective ways of adding depth and personality to your country home.

Pattern is perfectly showcased through the use of antique tiles at Brook Lodge

Bring the outdoors in 

As mentioned earlier, the modern country look is no longer grounded in the countryside. Whether you live in the heart of the countryside or the middle of a bustling city, bringing a touch of nature into your home will always add that authentic country feel. Not only does greenery help to add texture and depth to your home, there are multiple health benefits, including reduced stress, better productivity and improved mental health. Easy ways to add a touch of biophilia are potted succulents, herbs and hanging plants. For a more traditional look, decorate with scenes from the English countryside through artwork depicting rabbits, badgers and foxes – quintessential elements of the British countryside.

Driftwood and Brook Lodge bringing the outdoors in through the use of plants

Authentic kitchens 

The kitchen is the life and soul of the country home, it’s where the family gather everyday and because of this, it is the heart of this interior style. To create an authentic space with purpose, make sure there are no decorative items, but instead functional pieces that add to your home. Nothing should be delicate or precious – open shelving shelving units and hanging pots and utensils are great ways to introduce your character and personality to the space, whilst adding practical uses. If you can implement rustic elements like a butcher’s block or chopping board, you will have the country look in no time.  

Authentic kitchens with rustic farmhouse tables on show at Crossways and Henley Barn

Top five for September

By now we’re sure you’re aware that we like to make your lives easier at the start of every month; by offering up our top five new locations to register from the previous month. This month we’ve taken on a whole host of new properties, resulting in one of the toughest top five’s we’ve ever had. Nevertheless, it had to be done! This month expect to see properties ranging from farmhouses in Wales, to penthouses in London and converted barns in Kent, to Victorian Villas in South West London. If you have been keeping up with our top five series this year, you’ll certainly want to stay with us today, as we get into the top five for September. 

Sheereen Villas

First up this month is a glorious double-fronted Victorian Villa that has recently undergone a complete renovation. This imposing property is a standout from the moment you enter, however, the house unquestionably comes to life in the open-plan kitchen/ dining area. Here you will find a blend of parquet flooring and Amtico black and white tiles, as well as a range of eye-catching lighting. With many renovations on Victorian properties, it is all too easy to ‘overdo’ it and leave yourself with a soulless house that resembles everything else on the market. However, Sheereen Villas has been beautifully restored to reflect its period features, while complementing the modern architecture that has been implemented. Other standout features include the spectacular Minton tiles, found in the hallway, sash windows and the 2m high Victorian walled garden. Thanks to the space afforded by the vast kitchen/ dining room and walled garden, we would advise stills and filming at Sheereen Villas; the layout of the kitchen also makes it perfect for any food-style shoots. 

The incredible kitchen/ dining room at Sheereen Villas

Faraway Farm 

From a Victorian Villa in South West London to a remote Welsh farmhouse, you can’t say we don’t give you a broad spectrum of properties to peruse. Check out Faraway Farm, a truly remarkable farmhouse located just north of the Brecon Beacons. This extraordinary shoot location offers some of the most spectacular views of the surrounding hills, however, we are here for interiors after all. Inside you will find a dark and moody colour palette with wood-panelled interiors, slate flooring and unique, bespoke kitchen units – leaving you with one of the most arresting and memorable shoot locations you’ll see. Due to having land as far as the eye can see, filming in the hills would create something truly special, however, if you want to use the farmhouse or barn, we would recommend sticking with stills. 

Arresting interiors at Faraway Farm

Alexandra 

Moving on, we take a short journey south east to the ancient city of Bath. Have a look around the outstanding Alexandra, a gorgeous, detached Bath stone Victorian home, with a garden studio where the old coach house used to be. The interiors of the property match the magnitude of the exteriors with a blend of modern and period features. These include cornices and original fireplaces, as well as a striking, modern extension to the rear. The standout areas within Alexandra are abounding, however, and are found throughout the property – they include the bespoke kitchen created using reclaimed items, the standout copper freestanding bath, located in the master bedroom and the Jotul wood burner in the kitchen. If you are looking for a truly unique period property, Alexandra has to be the one for you! Stills are certainly the ideal type of shoot at Alexandra, but due to the size of the rooms, small scale filming is also acceptable. 

Standout features at Alexandra

Mulberry 

Our penultimate property this month takes us to Kent, to another farmhouse-style location – this time in the form of a converted barn. Have a look around Mulberry, a striking barn-style shoot location, oozing with country charm and personality. There are a few elements a modern country-style property has to offer and they are oak beams, exposed brick, and a blend of wooden and tiled flooring; this hasn’t been lost on Mulberry. As well as the obvious must-haves, Mulberry also boasts double-height ceilings and a vast open-plan kitchen/ dining room, finished with a huge kitchen island and a glorious farmhouse table. Moving through the property, Mulberry doesn’t stop there – other notable features include the master bedroom finished with a free-standing copper bath, a separate barn that’s been turned into a bar and tons of land, filled with orchards and a greenhouse. Mulberry is the ultimate barn-style shoot location, so if you have a specific brief in mind, whether it be stills or filming, Mulberry may be the choice for you! 

Mulberry showcasing its double-height ceilings and rustic interiors

Kew Penthouse 

The final location we have to bring you this month is something pretty unique. Check out Kew Penthouse, a 1980’s converted Art Deco building located by Kew Bridge, in South West London. Perhaps slightly self-explanatory, Kew Penthouse is a penthouse on the 8th floor of a gorgeous Art Deco building. However, where the location really sets itself apart from the rest, is its wrap-around terrace – featuring panoramic views of The River Thames and the City. Interiors are clean and fresh and include a minimalist aesthetic, wooden flooring and floor to ceiling windows, offering those astonishing views in all directions. Due to its positioning on the 8th floor of a building, we would advise stills and only small-scale filming at Kew Penthouse. 

Kew Penthouse offers incredible views of The River Thames and The City