By Emma Sims-Hilditch
Our studio is based in the Cotswolds where we are lucky enough to be surrounded by nature. There are green fields, woodland and wild flower meadows, and in our garden we grow vegetables and enjoy honey made by our bees. Unsurprisingly, this setting offers a constant source of inspiration for both our city and country projects and we inevitably find ourselves drawn to natural materials and designing with sustainability in mind.
We specialise in working with listed buildings and though it needs some work, the living room in this four-bedroom townhouse in Chelsea, on the market for £9.25mn, is an ideal place to showcase our nature-inspired approach to design. It has elegant high ceilings, stunning glazing and views across a cricket field and tennis court that give it a feeling of being a calm oasis in the centre of London. The fireplace looks to be in good condition and the cornice just needs careful restoration and redecoration.
Lay the foundations
We like to use natural timber floors that have a character and weathered finish to give texture and interest to the room. In a London property like this, something with herringbone or Hungarian point pattern, such as this from Havwoods, can really add an element of surprise — its natural grain and patina will establish an elegant and inviting feel to a room.
Layering rugs on a timber floor helps to ground the furniture and define the space of a room. For textured rugs, I often turn to Tim Page Carpets. Its Jute Ali rug has a wonderful natural feel and, unlike sisal or coir, it is soft and tactile under foot. The design is timeless and can be made to order in any size up to 6 metres.
Frame the view
The texture of curtains and soft furnishings is important in any room. The elegant windows here would suit lined and interlined curtains. I would suggest the Tree of Life, a beautiful 17th-century English design that has been recreated by Chelsea Textiles. The hand-embroidered fabric has flowing natural motifs and will introduce a subtle drama while still complementing the views outside.
I'd then propose a classic pair of sofas from George Smith, covered in a relaxed linen with Cape and Vienna textured velvet scatter cushions from de Le Cuona. The thick soft pile of the velvet would juxtapose beautifully with the heavily woven jute rug.
Cover the walls with natural fibres
To add texture to the walls of this reception room, I would consider the beautiful Altfield grasscloth wallpaper in a warm neutral colour. It would work well on the existing framed sections of wall around the room and would pair nicely with the basecloth of the curtains. This paper has a gently reflective surface, plenty of texture and oozes understated elegance. It does however need a professional decorator who is familiar with the product to hang it.
Make a statement from above
Light fittings are a great way to introduce natural motifs to an otherwise understated interior. The Golden Oak Chandelier by Cox London was inspired by the ancient oak trees in the north London parks where the owners walk their dogs. It would introduce texture to the room and, with the addition of soft gathered shades, it would bathe the space in a gentle, diffuse light.
Photography: Claire Menary; Alex Winship Photography Ltd / Strutt & Parker