‘Let the house continue to tell a story. When you add your own sympathetic mark to it, you will become the next chapter.’

Francesca Rowan Plowden, 39, owner of Rowan Plowden Design claims that minimalism is simply not in her DNA. Her love of chintz and classic stately design is perhaps something that sets her apart from Amy and Fiona. Growing up ‘surrounded by beautiful fabrics’ from her mother’s textile business and visiting ‘nearly every National Trust property in the country’ as a child, is something that resided in her subconscious and influenced her work as the successful woman she is today. Based in East Sussex, she has forefronted the revamp of Goodnestone Park and Leeds Castle’s Battel Hall.

Francesca Rowan Plowden interweaves both the factual historian and creative storyteller within her work. A trained actress, she sees both the character in her properties and the characters that have frequented them over the decades, using this to inspire their interior future. Francesca embraces the three R’s: research, restoration and renovation to create rooms where each furnishing, fitting and feature is richly entwined with the history of the place, whether it be an original feature or a new touch sympathetic to the past. It is this depth of these carefully selected pieces combined with authentically designed modern-day luxuries, in the likes of the kitchen and bathrooms, that make for the comfort of a modern home whose history is far from forgotten.  

Her career began after her creative eye was drawn to the field of design and a few of her homes were featured in magazines such as Elle Decoration and Condé Nast Traveller. The publicity sprouted an array of interior projects and thus eventually bloomed Rowan Plowden Design in 2012. She lives in an Edwardian former convalescent home on the East Sussex coast, ‘It is perched on a hill facing the sea and feels almost as if we are in a boat.’ She lives with her husband who she affectionately refers to as ‘The Captain’, four sons and her pet pug named Rocky.

Francesca, 39, combines all eras across the lifetime of a house in order to avoid a museum-like approach. Antique fair treasures mixed with high quality restorative décor retain the perfect balance with modern use of bold colour, fabric and texture. ‘Mixing pieces always gives an electric warmth’ claims Francesca. A statement illustrated by her dark red room at Goodnestone Park or the dramatic cactus green kitchen at Battel Hall. ‘Add your own sympathetic mark on your property, so that the house continues to tell a story that includes your own chapter.’ This piece of Francesca’s advice shows how the individual can create a unique property rich with history and passion, something that both owners and guests can delight in at Mulberry Cottages.


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Featuring a trio of accomplished female design professionals, all with a huge amount of experience to share. Alongside Francesca, also meet Amy Gardner, and Fiona Naylor.