How are y’all doing this mid-January weekend? It’s been either freeeeezing or mild this week. However, I have what I hope is a special treat for you to escape into for a bit of respite if you need that.
As for me, my son, Cale, surprised me with another visit this week! Now, I know he adores me, as I do him; however, the last two trips were not inspired by any desire to see me. No, he is headed on the journey of a lifetime but couldn’t find his passport. He’s been on the move since October.
It is amazing what can get accomplished when the motivation is there. lol In the end, he did get a new passport, just days before he departs for his trip.
Above is a photo of us, taken on Charles Street in Beacon Hill last Thursday. The color on the photo is a little washed out, so I made it a black and white image.
You might notice that I am not wearing a hat or gloves. It was about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, with calm winds, of course. But, considering that three days before that, it was about 12 degrees, 40 was practically balmy. Please also notice my brand new winter coat from Bloomies!
These fantastic items on sale here.
(If not interested, please skip ahead and go here.*)
And, let me tell you, this is the best coat I’ve ever owned.
In fact, I was actually HOT in this coat. Yet, it’s incredibly lightweight, and the fabric is almost velvety to the touch. Plus, it snaps closed. I’m not too fond of zippers on coats. I always struggle with them.
If you’re interested, you can find the coat here. I got the size 42 (US size 6), which fits perfectly.
(I don’t know what the one reviewer is talking about. However, I haven’t seen one feather and don’t know how feathers could come out of this very tight fabric.)
*Okay, back to the wonderfully superb interior design that’s coming out of England.
But, first, we need some music. And, who better than Max Richter, a British composer known for his brilliant classically-based pieces. This one is Vivaldi – The Four Season’s Reimagined, beginning with the Spring section. It starts out a little weird, but after the first minute or so, it is very beautiful and keeps getting better and better. I especially adore the part at 8:35. (Spring III)
Today, I’m going to share some gorgeous images, as well as links to the designers’ websites and Instagram accounts.
We’re going to look at the “cutting-edge” of the new wave of traditional British interiors, including some gorgeous “unkitchens.”
Isn’t cutting-edge of traditional interiors an oxymoron, Laurel?
Well, probably not, if you’re from Great Britain. haha However, here in the USA, I have to say, pretty much, yes, you’re right.
Based on what I’ve seen in the marketplace and many real estate listings, interior design in the US is largely stuck in this “transitional” realm that’s neither here nor there. At this point, I’m plenty sick of it. However, these designers in the UK are artists whose work is original, quite often colorful, and yet firmly rooted in tradition.
Superb interior design coming out of Great Britain is alive and well.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of interior designers in the US who are doing amazing, creative work aligned with classicism. But, I sense that classical design is far more mainstream in England than here in America.
All of this was prompted by a kind reader who sent me the name of the first company, Artichoke.
I’m not sure how the company got its name, except the bulk of their work is kitchen cabinetry and design. However, they produce millwork and cabinetry for any room in the home.
Now that is an unkitchen!
This kitchen was a collaboration with the second designer on the list Max Rollitt. Some may remember my talking about him in connection to his gorgeous designs for upholstered furniture and interiors.
Please check out that beautifully hidden refrigerator. Also, notice how little is in it. lol
One more beauty from Artichoke.
But, for a lot more, please check out Artichoke’s website here
and, Artichoke’s Instagram, here.
The next on the list of superb interior design in the UK is Max Rollitt.
Some of you may have remembered this genius featured in a post or two. He deals in antiques, does interior design, and designs furniture. His designs are elegant and fresh.
Above is a kitchen designed by Max Rollit. Can you tell what’s new and what is old? I bet you think that the worktable is old. Well, you’re right; it is.
But, what about that fantastic blue dresser with the Carrara marble top?
Here is a closer view. It sure looks old to me.
You can see more of this kitchen here.
It was built simultaneously with the cream-colored cabinet it’s next to. And, as you can see, masterfully, beaten up and painted to look genuinely old.
I’ve often thought of a cabinet company called:
The Old-New Cabinet Company.
They would specialize in making new cabinets that look 100 years old or more. Imagine your new kitchen with slightly crooked doors and drawers that stick somewhat. Then, there’d also be cracks and peeling paint. Cool, huh?
Americans would be suing their contractor. lol
However, back to Max Rollit, who also designs some divine furniture. You can see it here.
The yellow sofa is a Max Rollitt design for Ben Pentreath’s home in Dorset.
Max Rollitt’s new showroom parlor. I could definitely hang here with a cup of tea. However, they better cover everything in plastic first. I’m only half-joking.
Please check out Max Rollit’s gorgeous Instagram here.
The following example of superb interior design is a company I happened on. They are Stevens of Norwich Plaster Works.
You know when folks say, “Well, they can’t do what they did 200 years ago?
Well, that’s not always true. Some artisans are keeping these fine arts alive.
But, what I love is that most of these designers are involved with each other. And that is true of Stevens of Norwich Plaster Works. They also make a synthetic jesmonite stone material they call Stevensons-Stone.®
And, this synthetic stone was used on Ben Pentreath’s Royal Pavillion building in the village of Poundbury.
I took the images above and below. Above is the cupula, that as you can see, was still under construction when I went to visit in 2017. For more about Poundbury, please read the post where I explain more.
This building was completed in 2018.
Above is the arch which Ben Pentreath took.
Via @travelpics302 on Instagram royal pavilion Dorchester Poundbury
Of course, having mentioned him twice already, the following example of superb interior design and exteriors comes from the architect, Ben Pentreath.
I’m sure that Ben is on every list of architects and interior designers from Great Britain.
Ben captioned this image on Instagram with “Help yourself to the candy jar.” I adore this colorful room. It is both fun and classic. It’s happy and colorful, but he manages not to go over the top. I think it’s brilliant. My eye keeps going to those fantastic coral lampshades.
However, I know that some of you might feel overwhelmed by this. Please give it some time.
Ben, can also keep his palette neutral with the focus on the architectural detail, which is always in perfect scale, and historically accurate.
This is a vignette from Ben’s massive renovation on an antique home, Chettle House, which you can see here.
You can see more of Ben Pentreath here.
There are two more young, extremely talented designers, and both are also antique dealers.
Most of you already know one, but maybe not the second one.
Jack Laver Brister AKA Tradchap on Instagram.
Jack has been renovating and decorating a home; I’m not sure where, but it looks like it was always like this.
For instance, let’s look at this bathroom below.
Above is mid-renovation.
And, here is the finished bathroom.
Remember this wonderful Tradchap bathroom with the Sandberg wallpaper?
Laurel, what about the wood floor in the bathroom?
I’ve had clients who’ve done it, and it is not uncommon in English homes. But, when I stayed in Northampton in June/July 2020, the 18th century AirBnB had the original pine floors in all of the bathrooms.
I would put a lot of poly on it and wipe any excess water up after bathing. Unless there’s a flood, it should be fine.
Above is a bedroom before Jack got his talented hands on it.
The renovation is in the progress of the same room.
I love how the renovations take the rooms back to the 18th century!
More of tradchap can be seen in these posts
The final example of superb interior design out of Great Britain is designer Daniel Slowik, who is also an antique dealer.
His Instagram name is @danielpieckielonslowik.
Say that ten times fast! ;] Gosh, I’m not sure if I can say it once. So, I’ll just call him Daniel.
Daniel got his start working at the venerable firm of Colefax and Fowler. His eye is fantastic. Plus, he’s a damned good photographer. In fact, in a post from 2019, I have him as one of my favorite Instagram accounts.
Traquair London, UK via @danielpieckielonslowik on Instagram
Above is a classic, traditional interior done by Daniel. Here, you can see the influence his tenure at Colefax and Fowler had on his design. What a gorgeous room!
I hope you enjoyed these superb interior designs by six of my favorite British designers.
I think looking at these rich and vibrant rooms is an excellent escape from the cold and pandemic doldrums we’re dealing with once again. However, I read some encouraging news here in Boston, at least.
They actually test our wastewater and say that the levels of covid have come way down from where they were a couple of weeks ago. Oh, I hope so!
Please stay safe, warm, and healthy!
PS: Please check out the newly updated HOT SALES and check out the excellent Martin Luther King weekend sales.
I have been a huge fan of British design and decor for years now. Being a basic middle income American living in one of these horrid ‘open concept’ tract houses I find it challenging to say the least, to incorporate the British style that I love. I’d love to hear from your other readers to see if they have tips for me.
Oh, and I’m a long time lurker who loves your blog.
So glad you all like our work! The kitchen featured was designed by us for a house once owned by Queen Victoria’s dentist. A busy man I expect! Thanks for your kind words!
Thank you too, Andrew! I love showcasing exceptional interiors and it’s especially fun to introduce to an entirely new audience.
Hey Laurel. Thanks for sharing the post/update on Aaron. I had missed that one somehow. As a mother to a high-functioning ASD teenager, it gives me so much happiness that he has found something worthwhile to perseverate on, and a group that he can be a part of. That is such a worry for us moms. I hope that eases some of the pain of the situation.
Love this post! Max Rollitt’s blue parlor walls are to die for. It’s interesting that in a few of the rooms, the color goes all the way to the floor. We used to have a similar blue front hall and it was so bright – we painted it an off white during a recent renovation, and it’s lovely but it strangely doesn’t seem as bright anymore.
Laurel, I have that coat and I absolutely love it! I bought it to wear to Chicago in the winter, but it gets quite a bit of wear here in Northern California, too. You can’t go wrong with Herno. Also, love the British designers.
I’m curious about your opinion regarding the taupe kitchen cabinet trend and enclave are the stove trends. One minute a few people were doing it and now it’s everywhere. I personally liked the taupe cabinets at first but I’m already growing tired of them. Everything happens so quickly nowadays I get sick of them quickly too. 😉 Happy new year.
In addition to all the other names your Anglophilic readers suggest, I nominate the irrepressible and sui generis Nicky Haslam. His work for hire on grand houses is too theatrical and OTT — like eating too much chocolate mousse — plus it would cost approximately 10 kazillion dollars. But his own houses — Hunting Lodge, his London flat, the small dower house he moved into at age 80– have a more real-world imagination, humor, joie de vivre that we can at least aspire to.
Thanks for sharing Laurel and now I know. XO
Good Morning Laurel
Two comments , when I read the post about your. son I thought why would someone ask that we all have stories in our lives some are hard some are fun . Your response was generous and beautiful .
Now funny thing about your post I am doing a complete redirecting project and the hardest selection I had was 2 chairs for my living room I fell in love with some pricey chairs and asked if they could remove the little wheels on the front 2 legs ( the ones I now see in the photo ) . The looks I got from the shop owner was priceless . I see now a English design – wish I read your post before I embarrassed my self.
What an incredible and joyous post this is, Laurel, and this crazy-possessed Anglophile thanks you from the heart. It was like coming home to a kinder, more beautiful and more deeply nurturing place, one that I can come back to whenever I need it. Except for the very top tier American decorators, I’ve been dismayed and depressed by the soulless, gray/white/beige monotonous offerings of the American decorating scene, except for a few cherished wonderful outliers like you who keep me grounded and soul-nourished. You are very deeply appreciated.
Laurel, of all the photos, I can’t stop staring at the gorgeous staircase with book shelves below. Gorgeous and so inviting. Then I realized that if you can’t do your newly designed stairwell for some reason, that one pictured is a gorgeous soft spiral and might fit.
Loved this post. Especially while listening to the music you recommended.
Love this post! Maybe Imshould branch out to magazines!
I got started watching Mony Don and now I am spoiled by the UK gardening, architecture and interior design shows. Grand Designs, Best Laid Plans, Your Home Made Perfect, The Great House Revival, building Dream homes, the house that £100k built, room to improve, the instant gardener, big dreams small spaces… if someone else watches these and has other recs, please share! I have watched almost everything twice at this point.
I’m also a subscriber to English Home, which has ruined me for any American shelter magazine. English design has an authenticity that I find generally lacking here, plus you can read the magazine without seeing an ad on practically every other page. I also love English clothing, which is most of what I buy.
Some of the rooms you show here are a might colorful for me, but indisputably lovely. And English kitchens are wonderful. They look warm and inviting and like people actually cook in them.
I love love love the beautiful green in Tradchap’s bathroom! My powder room badly needs redecorating, and I am inspired. Wonderful post!
Such a sweet picture of Cale and his mom! I already follow most of these designers thanks to you, but I didn’t know about Daniel. Stay well.
Lovely rooms and great colors. Please share with us information regarding the chains holding up the fabulous paintings. Clearly, no holes in these walls!
Thank you for all your great posts!
Beautiful, inspiring rooms. There’s so much depth to the wall color in several of these photos! Such a joy to see these colors amidst the gray trend era. However, I just can’t go the pleated lamp shade route. They still look outdated to me, plus who wants to clean the darned thing!
The music! The vibrant colors! The vitality and personality of each space! … and seeing the photo of you and your son sharing a happy moment couldn’t have come at a better time. I love Sunday mornings thanks to you Laurel.
The music! The vibrant colors! The vitality and personality of the spaces! And seeing you and your son sharing a happy moment … it just couldn’t have come at a better time. I love Sunday mornings because of you. Thanks Laurel.
This was truly amazing! I have been a fan of English country and traditional English design all my life, and I love how the British are traditionalists in everything they make. I subscribe to the English Home and Home and Garden magazines (UK) and every issue is filled with gorgeous images like these (the former has a bit more though in case anyone is interested). So nice that you make reference to the village of Poundbury (I think there is/was a similar development in Scotland as well) and raise the question why we cannot build like they did 200 years ago?
Love love love these rooms. I have been on a mission for the past year to change my 10 years of shabby beach cottage style into colorful soft contemporary style. I’m finding that my eye has gotten out of practice, and I’m making mistakes that I probably wouldn’t have made 10 years ago. It doesn’t help that the supply chain issue has slowed everything down and there isn’t much to choose from in stores, and the furniture delays are ridiculous, measured in months not weeks. But I’m getting there and these photos and ideas help a lot. I’m curious if some of the first photos are the British version of mid-century modern? I really despise American mid-century modern because of the splayed angled legs on everything. But the things that you show look mid-century but with pretty straight legs.
WOW! Extraordinary! Lovely combinations in each room, bringing home such inspiration! You BRILLIANT GIRL, you did it again: brightened my day with beauty and subtle genius. Thank you!
Overwhelmed? Ha! I love rooms that are layered with beautiful things from different periods. This post is right up my alley. Mixing colors and patterns with thoughtful “clashing” à la Ben Pentreath makes a room more inviting and cozy, and less formal. I enjoyed every photo, but I want to see where that little bedroom-in-progress went, with that mysterious dangling wire. Surely not for a TV!
WOW what a feast for the eyes and ears. I so enjoyed this post– the combination of beautiful music and rooms. A sensory experience.
Thank you for this pleasure,
You have no idea how much I enjoyed this post. Please do more about English design. I’m obsessed!
I don’t know if this is the result of watching The Crown, but I can’t get enough.
I LOVE all these designers….AND the additions everyone has mentioned. I also would add Kit Kemp. Her hotels are in inspiration to me. Every one of them feels like I’ve stepped into a house in my dreams.
Love all this. Would add Rita Konig, as another reader posted, and also Carlos Garcia. Love his Instagram account.
Yes, I have a friend with a “hidden refrig” and it is small inside. I’m getting psyched to have my kitchen countertop replaced, leaning towards something that looks soapstone but is really a quartz countertop. Stay tuned…
I love these rooms! I particularly love “help yourself to the candy jar!!!” Such beautiful and cheerful colors. As a fellow Bostonian (Newton, just to the west) we love our puffer coats, don’t we? So so warm, lightweight, and so utilitarian and spot on. Stay warm, and enjoy the winter–it breaks up early these days. Hugs to you.
Ahhh… the Vivaldi, such a treat! Spring is my favorite season!! I’ve always been drawn to the English aesthetic and share your enthusiasm for all of these designers. Cheers laurel!! xx
Laurel…I love this post because I am a big lover of English interiors and have subscribed to English Homes for years. I love how their rooms are not so contrived as rooms are in the U.S. and they love color and aren’t afraid to mix it and throw in crazy print pillows and pleated fabric lampshades are definitely a thing over there. I am a Brit at heart. Every time I see a neutral room on a decorator’s blog I go nuts. So boring to me. My home definitely has the British look. I would love one of those kitchens posted!!!
Laurel, we must be on the same wavelength. I recently noted that one of my local interior decor providers seems obsessed with the condensed version of that popular novel “5 Shades of Grey”. While scanning their Instagram entries I have more than once checked to see if my monitor has somehow switched to the monochromatic setting. As an antidote to this, I have gone to the sites of Ben Pentreath, Robert Kime, and Gavin Houghton (all, thanks to your references). These chaps from the UK revel in tradition, colour, and composition, layering seemingly at will. Daunting perhaps but worthy of imitation. By that, I mean, they seem not haphazard in their approach but have a deliberate formula such as drawing their palette of colours from a rug or wallpaper and using it throughout a space. As for restoring architectural details, I have been challenged by the lack of qualified tradespeople who will do such things as mouldings.
I completely enjoyed your post this morning. The music was a perfect addition to looking at beautiful design and wonderful popping colors, all in the comfort of my warm home – in your new home State of MA , but out in the Beautiful Berkshires .
I love this post but was surprised you didn’t include Rita Konig. She happens to be my favorite!
I love this post and agree that these colorful rooms are a great pick me up for those of us in gray sky territory. One of my favorite design newsletters (I mean, Laurel doesn’t come every day!) is House and Garden UK. Design, garden, food and travel content transports me to my favorite fantasy life. Beautiful every day (and who doesn’t need that).
Unrelated to today’s post, I find myself wondering about your other son, whom you don’t mention and I hope all is well there? Many of us have children scattered across the country/globe that we don’t get to see as often as we’d like and perhaps your other son is one of those? Happy New Year Laurel!
I made a page devoted to my younger son, Aaron. It explains what the situation is, and you can see him, and hear as well!
While a lot of the images here are enticing, I do think that there should be a “don’t try this at home” warning appended. The larger sitting rooms work because of their size and proportions, which enable the use of a wide range of colours. Doing this in an average-sized room would be a challenge. But at least it’s a reminder not to be afraid of colour!