A High-Low Ben Pentreath Living Room – Can It Be Done?

Hi Everyone,

Thank you so much for your kind comments from Sunday’s post about the five British designers and one design company I featured. I’m sorry if I didn’t include one of your favorites. Of course, all of them are magnificent!


Today is one of those posts where I’m flying high on a trapeze without a net.


What do I mean by that? Well, I’m doing a high-low Ben Pentreath based on that magnificent “candy jar” living room that I shared on Sunday.


Ben Pentreath Exceptional Interior Design - colorful living room


The reason why I’m “flying without a net” is that I’m not sure if I can pull it off!


I’ve done other high-low posts in the past, such as this post from 2020. And also the Ralph Lauren and Steve Cordony posts. Both of those rooms feature green and white. These are easy palettes that most people will feel comfortable living with.


Today’s high-low Ben Pentreath room is far more complex. However, some of my Laurel Home Palette Collection Palettes are actually quite similar.


But, before we go more deeply into Ben’s design, what is meant by high-low, in the first place?

Or, how high is high, and how low is low?

Of course, I don’t know everything in this room because a lot of it is out of sight.

Perhaps there’s a small seating area by a fireplace.

In addition, if there are case goods and tables, are they fine antiques? Probably. Did some pieces come from an auction? Did the clients already possess any of these pieces?


And, what about the art?


The reality is that a room can cost millions of dollars. However, for this exercise, I believe that this room costs a minimum of $150,000.00. However, it could be ten times that amount.

Could it be done for less than 150k? Oh yes, a lot less. But, how much less, at this point, I’d only be guessing.

But, could it be done for 15k?

Sure, if you know how to upholster and sew well and have a super talented artist-child in the family-like Maura Endres has. I mean, the fabric alone in this room is more than $15,000.00.


There is one more image that shows a little more, to help with our high-low Ben Pentreath challenge.


high-low Ben Pentreath @benpentreathstudio design @tamarahales @dangelalansbury - lovely colors living roomThat’s a lovely color outside the room. Ben makes note of the “skirting board.” (baseboard) being a muddy color which is necessary.

That’s one of the keys, I think with working with a lot of pastel colors. There needs to be some gravitas in the form of black, brown and some a few muddy shades. So, I definitely agree with him. It’s perfect.


Ben’s style is rooted in tradition but has the commonplace English decor with lots of stuff around. Some Americans like that, and some don’t.


Therefore, I think it’s important to note that if doing a high-low Ben Pentreath room, we are doing it “in the manner of.”


Okay, it’s time to dive in.


The first thing I’m going to do is– never mind. hahaha. I always forget. It’s not possible for me to source an entire large room (plus a little more) and it all together and then write about it, as well?

In addition, I was going to make a mood board. Nope. That’s not happening either. However, I have put together a room of furniture inspired by Ben’s room in the way of a widget coming up in a bit. By the way, Ben does give credit to his two associates who work for his firm.

@tamarahales and @dangelalansbury. These are their insta pages. However, both of them are private pages.

So, no, I didn’t do everything I wanted to do. However, if I had a week, the first thing I always do is make a plan. Space planning. I outline how to do it in this post.


The object for me with space planning is to map out the space, not necessarily what will go in that space.


What will end up there is a function of what’s needed and aesthetics. However, I think it helps to know the optimal sizes first.

Of course, there’s no one right way to begin.

Remember the big living room wall post?

And, this is one of my favorite posts that goes over seven different living room layouts.


Okay, before I put in the widget, I want to say a few things about my attempt to do a high-low Ben Pentreath room.


Some things are next to impossible to get super cheap.

Yes, yes, I know. You scored a 19th-century black and gold lacquer chinoiserie cabinet at an estate sale for 200 bucks. The people were thrilled you were taking it off their hands.

Look, I think that’s positively divine, and I’m happy for you. But, the chances of me finding such a thing are even less than my becoming pregnant. (Imagine that)

But, you get the point. And, without trying, I’ve come across some cheap treasures, as well, from time to time. However, if I am looking for it, no way.


It’s like when you NEED a new dress for a special occasion.


You go to your favorite dress shop, and there’s absolutely nothing you’d consider wearing.

So, how much did you “spend,” Laurel?

Okay, please be gentle. ;] I did my best. But, to do it up the best I could, I needed to pretend to spend about 40 large. Yes, approximately $40,000.00. Hey, that’s a lot better than $150,000.00 or more!

Could I go lower? Yes, I’m sure there are other ways to cut costs. For example, I cut out all of the original artwork unless it’s free original artwork.


Please know, I’m not saying that artists don’t deserve to be paid.


Of course, they do! But, I give out free advice all of the time. Some of you know what I’m talking about. An acquaintance might say, “Let’s have lunch; I just want to pick your brain.”

So, yes, artists definitely deserve to be paid. However, if you have a super-talented family member, or maybe you are a great painter, then it might be only the materials you’re paying for.

Also, as I said earlier, you can save a bundle if you can sew.


Well, Laurel, what about getting furniture, say on Facebook marketplace, like sofas and chairs and reupholstering them?


Yes, you can do that. Or reupholster what you already have. But, here’s what you need to know about that. If you’re not doing the labor yourself and you live in a major metropolitan area, it’s probably going to cost you about $1,500-$2,000 to have a typical sofa reupholstered. It’s a tremendous job as they have to take the old sofa apart, down to the frame, and then build a new sofa as if from scratch.

That’s not including the price of the fabric. That could cost you anywhere from $500 to $5,000 or more for an 84″ sofa!


But yes, I know that you might have found a workroom that will reupholster your sofa for $500.00. Please tell us who it is! haha!


What about all of that bullion fringe, Laurel? Don’t you think it’s a bit much to put that on every piece of furniture?

Well, actually, yes, I do. However, I believe the designers probably think that too. I think it’s meant to be part of the fun of the room– fringe for days! But, of course, in your interpretation of Ben’s room, you don’t need to have bullion fringe on everything. I had a sofa years ago with bullion fringe, and I loved it.

So did Peaches.


Peaches keeping my fabric samples warm
Here he is, circa 2014, keeping my samples warm. Sooooo cute!


Okay, let’s get back to our high-low Ben Pentreath super cool candy jar living room.


Do you Brits say living room? Or do you call it a parlor? I know my South African ex-laws called it a lounge.

As I said earlier in the post, we can’t see a good portion of the room. However, I’ve seen other rooms that Ben has done. Oh, and I’ve been to his house in Dorset. lol


Ben Pentreath - me - Charlie McCormickYou can see just how thrilled those boys were to take a photo with my giggling self, but I wasn’t leaving until someone took it. That was one of the best meals I ever had, prepared by Charlie McCormick, in the blue shirt. And, yes, they are both super tall, charming, and verrrry sweet!


Ben Pentreath - Charlie McCormick - old parsonage timeless kitchen yellow walls - cabinet
There’s my orange handbag! I thought it looked quite lovely amongst their lovely kitchen furnishings.

Incidentally, I love radiators like this when they make sense. Mine is running sideways, and it’s in the way.


Here you can see Ben’s and Charlie’s Staffordshire Dogs on their mantel.


Ben Pentreath - Charlie McCormick - old parsonage-staffordshire dogs fireplace living room - fireplace mantel decorating

Here’s a better shot of the mantel as I was walking in. Somehow I got the picture before they all poured through the door.

If you want to see more from my trip to England in 2017, you can look at the posts, beginning with this one.

And then, it’s the next five posts. After that, the England posts trail off, but I like this one where I attempt to recreate the paint colors in Ben’s home.

Okay, time for the furnishings widget. There’s a brief caption underneath each image. If you click on the individual photos, you will be taken to the source where it’s sold. Some things are one-of-a-kind, but many are not.



I hope you enjoyed the furniture I put together. Of course, I there’s a little Laurel spin on it. That’s the beauty of “copying.” It’s never the same as the original.

OH! I did find the pillow fabric. I did. But, I found it on some weird website, and it didn’t say who it belonged to. I used the Laurel method as outlined in the back of Laurel’s Rolodex, and it worked to find the fabric.


floral fabric in high-low Ben Pentreath living room


However, when I tried to put this photo, a much larger sample of the pattern into the Google images search box, and nothing came up at all.


Just one note before I sign off about the wall color.


Well, actually, what’s in the room is wallpaper by De Gournay! As usual, I have no idea what it is. It’s a gray blue-green. Of course, we will not be putting that in; we’ll use paint. So, if you own the Laurel Home Paint Collection, there are many shades similar to Ben’s room in the collection of 144 Benjamin Moore paint colors. And, there are also some wonderful Farrow and Ball gray blue-greens.


PS: Please check out the newly updated HOT SALES!


33 Responses

  1. It’s very possible something is wrong on my end but none of the widget links are working. I’ve tried using three different devices and three different browsers. All the other links and my internet connection are fine. I’ve not had this problem previously and I’ve used the widgets many times in the past, but when I check a widget on an older post, it’s not working now either. Just thought I should mention it. Like I said, it’s very conceivable this issue is on my end. Thank you, to anyone else who wants to validate for me, I greatly appreciate it.

  2. Love this!
    In the pictures where you are at their house, would you call the wall color Magnolia? Watching UK shows magnolia color3d paint is talked about as a common choice but it is one of those things that didn’t seem to cross the pond to the US. I had to google what they were taking about. Lol

    1. The living room color is one of those difficult to describe. However, I would call it a dusty peach. It’s the brown in the color that keeps it interesting, and just a warm, lovely backdrop for the rest of the furnishings.

  3. Just wondering Laurel what constitutes hanging paintings from a picture rail vs hanging with appropriate hardware placed directly behind the painting. Sometimes I feel the picture rail look especially in the featured Ben Pentreath room looks exquisite and I can’t picture the room without it, but I’m not sure how or why the picture rail would be chosen? Thank you!

  4. I’ll never again have the jolt of joy this first-time read of your blog has given me…but I’m sure I’ll get a kick out of all of the posts ahead!

  5. Oh Laurel. Thank you so much for all the work you put in to creating your Blogs. They always bring joy to my life, no matter the topic. Just now after reading todays wonderful post on Ben Pentreath’s uplifting decor I looked through your list of furniture widgets and WOW I saw the beautiful Victorian Bamboo & Lacquer Octagonal side table. Imagine my surprise when I discovered I have an almost identical piece. Mine has a second painted shelf at the bottom, plus it needs a gentle clean and to then be re-lacquered. I’ve carted it around for many years from home to home and avoided having it thrown out by my husband! I’ve just gleefully shown him the one in your post. Of course he said that he always knew it was special. Not True. Thanks again Laurel, for bringing me so much pleasure.

  6. Thank you Laurel so much for Sunday’s and this post. I’ve been saving for a few years now for that Artichoke unkitchen, and a real refresh so the timing of these posts couldn’t be better for me. My space is the same so it’s just perfect! I have been very lucky to be in this historic home well over 40 yrs. When I got here everything was painted brown with brown wall to wall, and the staircase in brown deck paint! The ceilings are high and the public rooms like the photos above. The first thing I did was prime all the walls, remove the wall to wall and the strip oak floors underneath to the wide plank. Took off 100 yrs. The front parlor which I admit was done far too long ago is a custom BM blue/green mix to go with a historic Thibaut toile in the rear parlor (dr). The trim is white and the plaster cornice has a soft delicate gilt wash to see the detail that had all but melted under 170yrs of paint. But the blue/green here is definitely clearer than my paint color and I definitely prefer that look now. The salmon was also a BM mix, which was beautiful but a bit too dark in the hall and I switched later to a cheery Chinoiserie paper. My office is the deep yellow. I’m a grandma and this definitely looks like a grandma’s house. I’ve wanted an update, but my grown & very sentimental children want it all to stay. What strikes me about Pentreath who I love, and all these other bright young things, is to me their work is a much clearer, young and fun take on English style, mixing furnishings from different periods. No? Is everything old really new again? Or do I go all Rose Uniake and paint everything white? Thanks again. I love your posts!

  7. I’ve sailed in the Caribbean a couple of different times. The waters are mostly calm and gorgeous and it is a grand adventure. He is going to have a blast and if you get the chance to do it, too, you should!

  8. Laurel! First, would Kathleen share her paint color names? I love the green/blue and Salmon!
    That living room is just gorgeous! The colors, fabrics and decor all work together in such a fresh way. I’m looking over those lampshades. I never considered a dark baseboard and it is such a smart detail, thank you for pointing that out. Hoping your son has a fabulous safe trip!

    1. Hi Leslie,

      Gosh, back in about 2,000, I did a family room that was primarily shades of sage, but with some black accents. And then, I had the idea to paint the baseboard and French doors black. We used Fine Paints of Europe high gloss black. It was gorgeous, and really made the room, I think.

  9. Prayers coming your way! Please get him a waterproof cover for his phone!!
    If the man that owns boat is sailing on familiar waters they will be fine. I had a snipe years ago; main sale and a jib …
    Wish them well!!

  10. Laurel, I grow up in England and we always called the living room the Lounge, I now live in Canada and it’s now called the living room, I think people in the UK generally now call it the latter. My inlaws called the living room the parlor, were as the upper classes tend to call it ‘The drawing room’

    1. Hi Jill,

      Yes, lounge like my South African Ex-Laws. 19th c. Bostonians had drawing rooms, as well. But, they were still heavily under the British influence. Actually, we still are! At least on the outside of the homes here. The inside? Ummm. Sadly, in most cases, no.

  11. Oops! Sorry, that painting is something else but is very much like Breezing Up (A Fair Wind). No idea who painted the one you posted, but it sure looks like a Homer.

  12. That picture is Winslow Homer’s Breezing Up (A Fair Wind) and there are actually four men in the boat in the original in the National Gallery in Washington, D.C.. Not sure how the fifth one got in the picture you are featuring, but there are definitely not six! It’s one of my favorite paintings by Homer!
    I hope your son and his friends have a marvelous and safe time sailing the Caribbean. What a great place to be in this weather we’re having in the Northeast lately!

  13. Thank you for the gorgeous furniture and lamps and fabric selections. Made my morning to follow through to the sources — most of which ship to Canada. Really excited about finding Liberty in particular. And I ordered the yellow chinoiserie lamps! Thank you!

    1. Hi Karen,

      Oh, wonderful!

      That source on Etsy (JasVintageCorner) has the most gorgeous vintage lamps and the prices are reasonable too. I got my yellow lamps there. I forgot to say that. I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying them in my den now.

      Thanks for letting me know. I just added another pair of lamps to the widget.

  14. You gave us another great high lo, which is always fun and informative. Also love the pic and memories of Peaches. Nothing better than a cat with attitude.

    1. Hi Michelle,

      Peaches (my Snooky) had it all. Incredible Beauty,(and he knew it) Charisma (Catisma?), Full of Love, and he had a purr that was akin to a 747 taking off! lol However, he did scratch my furniture to shreds, some of it; but never the velvet!!! AND, any paper that might’ve been left out and not completely covered up, was toast. I mean, he really did “eat my homework” and my drawings!

  15. My oldest son did something quite similar last spring. A very experienced sailor, he sailed from Charleston, SC to Bermuda and it was quite the adventure. He was the only one who could navigate at night, and he has wonderful stories of sailing by moonlight. Prayers for a safe journey.

    Love England, love Ben Penreath, and have been a fan of your blog for many, many years. You saved my sanity with your post on the long, long wall.

    Our life stories are quite similar, except that there were three boys, and I moved south. And after nearly 15 years, and a few toads, Prince Charming walked in when I least expected him nearly 16 years ago.

  16. What a treat to read your post before work! I love it and always look forward to what you have to show and to say. thank you, Laurel

  17. Laurel, I hope your son has adventure but not too much. Prayed for him this morning! Thanks for the reminder to toss in some mud brown or black when I’m decorating with pastels! It really does bring them forward.

  18. Thank you. Not only is that my LR, but it’s almost exactly the same color and my hallway was the deep salmon too. Need a third color for my DR. Any ideas? Love the wall hangings! Love Pentreath too. ps my office is the deep yellow.

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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