Location and How to Let the Outside, In.

We asked the designers what it was that inspired their creations and how these catalysts eventually evolve into houses with interiors rich with culture, substance and personality. All three of our designers gain inspiration from their surroundings and each work with contrasting landscapes and a variety of buildings, whose identities were originally formed from their purpose within these places. Whether it be town, country or beach, glimpses of the environment should infiltrate your home and reflect how you have brought the outside, in.

Fog Signal Building at Dungeness

‘Texture and colours of the environment help me to find materiality.'

Fiona Naylor focuses largely on location when it comes to kick-starting her creations. It is the stark seascape of Dungeness that has seeped through the walls of her properties and embedded itself within their structure and sprouted an array of corresponding design elements. Accusing Dungeness of being ‘a place that gets under your skin’ Fiona told us how she creates a colour palette to work by ‘Texture and colours of the environment help me to find materiality. Dungeness is very beautiful, I look at the context and the colours.’ This unique location-inspired colour palette can be seen in her properties with Mulberry Cottages, such as The Pump Station. ‘I create a simple palette such as white, oak and stone. I use just five (for example) materials throughout one whole property.’ The palette ultimately created a calm and serene effect inside each of the Dungeness properties, limestone floors and whitewashed walls blending with the open outdoor environment that they stand upon, protective structures providing sanctuary from the extremes of Dungeness weather.

Fog Signal Building Interior at Dungeness

There is a seamless connection through the building and interiors’ states Fiona. Luxurious home comforts are harmonised 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, ‘Everything I choose to put in that space relates back to that original 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.

Bells Cottage Living Room

'Every item has substance and its own little story behind it.'

Amy Gardner lets location influence her home in other ways. She keenly uses local craftspeople when it comes to renovations and furnishings. Although Amy and partner Tom do most of the work themselves, they turn to local traders and companies whenever they need that specific expertise or want a piece with added ‘depth’: the curtains of Bell’s Cottage were handmade in nearby Rochester and they also use a cabinet maker from Bethersden. This way every item has ‘substance’ and its own little story behind it, ‘a reason for being there’ says Amy. It is this depth of purpose that gives the interior a certain richness, this is desirable in every home and will give any guest information to feast upon.

The De Gourney Room at Battel Hall

‘All the brands we used were English, which is something I felt strongly about using in such a quintessentially English setting as Leeds Castle.’

The location of Francesca’s interior design projects in particular have a huge influence upon their history and this is seen clearly in Francesca’s design of Mulberry’s Battel Hall, ‘All the brands we used were English, which is something I felt strongly about using in such a quintessentially English setting as Leeds Castle.’ Francesca also took into account that she needed to create a romantic setting for weddings and was able to reflect the exteriors of Leeds Castle grounds within the interiors of her rooms. The magnificent bird-life at Leeds Castle which came about as a result of roaring ‘20s inhabitant Lady Bailie is illustrated in the fabrics, wallpaper and pictures. The Wisteria Bedroom in particular with its ‘Doves’ wallpaper from Lewis and Wood and the Morning Room with its de Gournay  ‘Askew’ wallpaper, again depicting birds. Another example of this is her use of lesser known English brands Lindsay Alker and Susie Hetherington, who produce beautiful textiles featuring swans, the crest for Leeds Castle estate.

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Design Insider

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Meet the designers here: Fiona NaylorFrancesca Rowan-Plowden, and Amy Gardner.