Chameleon Interiors

Chertsey cottage, Surrey

The owners, Sally and Derek, had the house built just over a year ago after waiting 17 years for the plot to become available.  Located on a private, on a no through road, the house sits on the site with views over a paddock and beyond.

This is a new build home, built out of reclaimed materials including old bricks and reclaimed woods to not only give the house character but so it sits well in its semi-rural location.  The house builder only embarks on a couple of projects a year and he likes to take his time to source the materials and build homes that look good as well as last.  Generally, his houses are a labour of love and there is always a waiting list for them.

I was involved right from the building stage and made a small number of changes including closing up doorways, for example, in the hallway which now sees a handy home office desk area located between the sitting room and the stairs, and I opened up areas generally to achieve a better flow and use of space. The ground floor is now much more user friendly as the rooms are more open plan.  I tweaked and changed the kitchen materials too including the worktops, paintwork, tiling and cupboard handles, so that they were in keeping with my overall scheme.  Fired Earth mirror deco tiles were used as a splash back to give a softer reflection.  Farrow and Ball and Zoffany paints were used in stronger colours to define the kitchen units.  Ochre handmade bone and chrome handles upgraded the standard kitchen specified by the builder.  The granite top has speckles of grey/plum/aqua which again reflect my overall colour scheme.

The owners have down-sized, moving from a large family home into a smaller space where they intend to retire and stay for the rest of their lives.  Luckily they were able to sell their last home with all of the furniture and chattels enabling me to have a clean slate and select everything they have in their new home.

Some items were vintage finds on ebay, but the key to the brief was that Sally wanted something individual.  We were able to do this as we have our own workrooms where we custom make items including the obvious soft furnishings of curtains, cushions, throws, etc., but also fabric covered tables in custom sizes and finishes.

Sally wanted to have a separate study area downstairs, but not locked away.  As space is tight I closed up the doorway from the hall into the kitchen to provide this area for her.  It’s also much better to walk into from the front door and see a neat desk area rather than a doorway.

We also opened up a wall between the sitting room and kitchen family area so that when Sally and Derek entertain, which they do regularly as she is a splendid cook and hostess, this would be a more open, usable flowing space.

The back wall of the ground floor, which houses the kitchen and family area, has two sets of 6ft 6” high folding doors, so the garden area is crucial to this space and needed to link in. When they had the house built the garden was just a basic lawn so I persuaded a garden designer, Cheryl Cummins, who is an amazing horticulturist, to design the planting to reflect my colour scheme used in this area of the house.  She did just this incorporating a few quirky, unique pieces like the knight in shining armour who stands on guard proudly in the rear courtyard garden.

Upstairs there are three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a walk-in dressing room. The classic master bedroom has been designed in tones of gold and pops of black. The two guest bedrooms, one a double and one a single have both been designed in different soothing colour schemes with luxurious textiles to aid the best possible nights sleep.

Sally, who is an avid walker can now walk from her new home directly onto the open countryside and walk her beloved golden retriever dog.  She adores her new house and is so happy with the fact that I understood her needs and taste.

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