‘I study the building and the context of place, then I select a palette of colours’

It is Fiona Naylor’s eye for architecture and design that allows her to envision projects on properties that no one else could do with quite the same unique innovation and carefully crafted style. An interior architect, Fiona does this by stripping a building down to the bones and works on the constructed bare spaces whilst being mindful of location, landscape and practicality. This is illustrated in her collection of Dungeness properties, all industrial buildings she has transformed into ultimate sanctuaries by nourishing and enhancing the character that already lies within them, whilst maintaining their efficiency. Fiona views herself as both an interior designer and architect, ‘As an interior architect I create a space and an environment. Interior designers create what is in the space’ By separating these two sides of her role she defines what sets her apart from other designers and ultimately her creations.

London based Fiona has lived in her Clerkenwell flat, another example of how Naylor constructs from simple solid frames and utilises space with chic design and comfortable furnishing. Co-owner of her architectural design company Johnson-Naylor, it was her Magnum photographer husband that inadvertently found her first Dungeness renovation project, Mulberry’s The Coastguard ‘He saw the coastguard were packing up their stuff. They were leaving, so we put in an offer.’ Thus blossomed her vast portfolio of lunarscape retreats juxtaposed upon the extreme environment of Dungeness’ salt marsh and shingle beach. ‘Dungeness is a place that gets under your skin the more time you spend here. You have to get to know its personality and character, how the weather behaves and how the seasons change. That’s what creates an emotional attachment.’ It is this emotional attachment that Naylor has embedded into her properties making them reflective of their stark landscape which in turn then accomplishes a serene, calming effect when combined with her clever use of plush furnishings.

‘There is a seamless connection through the building and interiors’ states Fiona. Luxurious home comforts are blended with the industrial undertone of the building, warm woods and soft stone greys envelop wide sofas and impeccably clean tiled surfaces with underfloor heating. This is all born from the personality of the building and location, ‘I study the building and the context of place, then I select a palette of colours. Everything I choose to put in that space relates back to the palette.’ This depth of interior selection is entwined with location and how that can be used to enhance a living environment. Light, depth, volume and scale, of which there is an abundance at Dungeness, inspires her work in this way. ‘I love the relationship between the landscape, sea and sky; it’s magical.’

This is something that infiltrates Fiona’s designs at the Dungeness properties. The use of natural light through careful renovation of windows, glass and open plan living spaces help to achieve this and can be seen in The Pump Station with its smooth, earthy coloured walls and original rough ceilings, giving the place a highly textural, tactile feeling complimenting its original shape and features. Fiona’s inspirational spaces demonstrate how great craftsmanship and modern thinking can sit together. A model for forward thinking, she carefully sources her materials thanks to her high environmental standards, considering durability, longevity, sustainability and how they may influence emissions and destruction of habitat. It is the combination of location, history and structure of the buildings mixed with Fiona’s ethical, resourceful creativity that results in her innovative properties giving guests and admirers an experience to absorb, reflect upon and ultimately both impact their way of thinking and the memories they create.   

Fiona's property portfolio includes Coastguard Lookout, The Pump Station and Fog Signal Building


Design Insider

The go-to place for design inspiration. 
Featuring a trio of accomplished female design professionals, all with a huge amount of experience to share. Alongside Fiona Naylor, also meet Francesca Rowan-Plowden, and Amy Gardner.