Interior design powerhouse Louise Jones talks The Resident through how she found herself a country abode within the realms of west London
Have you ever dreamt of living the country life, but haven’t quite been able to give up on the hubbub of our wonderful city? This is a paradox that many people face day-to-day, but rarely do they manage to find a way of combining the two wishes. This is something that interior designer Louise Jones has managed, however, with her home in Ham, a property so country and quaint you would think you had stepped into a quintessential British village.
From the beauty of this humble abode, it may come as no surprise that Jones trained at the renowned Inchbald School of Design in Belgravia and has recently been listed in House & Garden’s 100 Leading Interior Designers. Quite a feat some might say. And quite a feat is this renovation of a small workman’s cottage that belonged to Ham Manor House – a renovation that has nearly doubled the size of the property.
It wasn’t the easiest to purchase once Jones had her design-fuelled eye on it, however. ‘It had so much interest and it was a bit of a battle to secure it with so many developers after the project,’ she says. ‘I had to really stick to my guns and do all-sorts of strange things like non-refundable cash deposits to get it.’ But once the deed was finally done, Jones set about on a two-year project to renovate the cottage from top to bottom, to outside and in.
‘It was really very run-down,’ Jones explains. ‘It was lived in by an elderly man in his eighties who had been born in the house, but the company he rented it off hadn’t been maintaining it. So it hadn’t been looked after for 40-50 years. I could see that it had a lot of potential to extend though, and it also had a 90ft walled garden so we just thought: “There’s so much scope here.” So we started by just painting the whole thing white and just lived with it. We did the garden first and let it speak for itself. It took nearly a year to landscape it and it was only then that we tackled the house with our excellent builder.’
As you walk through the property, you’re hit by walls of colour and intricate patterns set against plain walls and simple antique decoration. Although a designer, Jones was keen for her home to not feel like it had a designer’s scheme to it.
‘I wanted it to feel natural, as if it’s evolved over time. It’s got to feel like you’ve been collecting over the years even if it did all arrive in one afternoon. The scheme if it had to have one was just to be comfortable, inviting and period to the Victorian house,’ she explains. Although it doesn’t feel like it has a polished designer scheme, everything within the walls is perfectly articulated. This can be seen in the placement of the oriental chest in the living room, against the modern and art-vibe lamp that is placed on top.
The garden room, situated off the kitchen and opening out onto the garden, was one of the final rooms left to complete and proved the biggest challenge in terms of Jones’s perfectionism with design. ‘At one point I considered boarding it in shingle tiles and I sort of wish I had done that now. It looks lovely, but when I look at it with my designer head on I pick at it a little,’ she says.
Despite the modest dimensions, the property has a certain reputation for its opulent, old-world and elegant feel. ‘My next door neighbours have labelled it Downton Abbey,’ laughs Jones. ‘I don’t shy away from decoration and pattern and I wanted to have a lot of interest, a lot of different materials, which definitely takes it in a more opulent direction.’
So how did such a country life end up manifesting itself within London? ‘We’ve got two dogs and a horse, so when I was looking I knew I wanted a nice big garden and Ham allowed for my horse to be in Richmond Park, which is lovely,’ she explains. ‘I just love the country life, the gardening, the riding – but I have to be in London.’ Jones goes onto tell me that Ham has the village feel that she needed, whilst being so well connected too. With this, the properties seem more country though.
‘I always take the lead from the property itself. I’m really passionate about letting the cottage or the properties speak,’ says Jones. ‘I’m not a huge fan of when these little period properties get completely modernised and stripped of all the character.’ After realising she enjoyed designing for clients that wanted an old-world, English countryside look, the property allowed for her to design her home in this way.
And staying true to her country roots, despite the home being everything she could have wished for, Jones admits that it is the outside space of the property that is her favourite part. ‘It’s like a little haven and a retreat from the city for me,’ says Jones. ‘I work with houses all day, every day, so the garden is my special place – I can while away several therapeutic hours there.’ Well, you can’t get much more country than that.
The property on Evelyn Road, TW10, is on the market with Knight Frank for £1.35m. For more details call 020 8012 3470 or visit knightfrank.co.uk