Some may consider themselves ‘city people’ or ‘country people’ but one person who manages to flit easily between the two is designer, William Yeoward. An established name on the interiors scene known for his beautiful furniture, fabrics, lighting, crockery and crystal, Yeoward found his calling early on. ‘I realised I was an interiorist when aged 11; I painted my first bedroom olive green with olive gloss skirting boards and topped it off with a fibreglass orange lampshade,’ he says. ‘I always knew I was committed to design for the home.’
With a smart apartment, not far from his famous King’s Road showroom, and a charming house in the Cotswolds, Yeoward has created two distinct design aesthetics based around the different lifestyles they offer, as much as the architecture of the properties. ‘For me country style is more about collecting the eclectic and the accumulation of treasures over a long period of time, whereas city life to me is neater, trimmer and more of the moment,’ he says. ‘I had always fancied an apartment influenced by Paris retro and Upper West Side New York, and that’s what my London apartment lends itself to. My country home is High Gothic, built in 1850, and has a character of its own, which I have used as an influence around the house.’
Situated in a 1900 mansion block, Yeoward has decorated his London abode in a ‘sharper’ style than his Cotswolds home, starting with a dramatic hallway in a robust shade of chestnut and minimal furnishings. ‘Halls are first-impression spaces so you need to think carefully about the effect you are after,’ he explains. ‘If you want something strong, as I did, it’s no good cluttering up the place with bits and pieces, so I have used two pieces of furniture with good shapes, along with a natural sculpture and two pictures.’ This is in contrast to the gothic cornicing, patterned rugs and decorative ceramics in his country home, previously an old stone village schoolhouse.
In London, Yeoward’s drawing room has two chimneypieces at each end of the room and two tall windows giving the space a smart architectural feel, which he has emphasised with rich macchiato walls, lime green and burnt orange upholstery and colourful artworks. ‘Be bold with colour, be generous with pattern and never, ever worry about scale,’ he says with certainty. The dining room is in the centre of the apartment with five different doors leading off it. Originally this gave the room a disjointed feel so Yeoward lined the perimeter with plain, painted panelling. ‘It was obvious that something was needed to pull the whole thing together,’ he says. ‘I’ve also introduced double-height doors to give significance to the entrance to the drawing room.’ Another advantage to this is the mass of natural light which floods through when the doors are open.
Yeoward lives in his apartment during the week as much of his work is based in the capital, and although he views the Cotswolds as ‘home’, he and his partner, interior designer, Colin Orchard enjoy having friends over for mid-week dinners or card-playing evenings. As such, the dining room is offset by a striking chestnut wood bookcase, which lends a library feel, ideal when the dining table is switched for two smaller card tables and it becomes a games room. ‘The bookcase prevents the space looking solely like a room used for eating,’ he explains. ‘It helps visually and atmospherically in its transformation.’ Other items such as the cut-glass champagne cooler or charming salt cellar lead double lives, often as pretty vases or plant pots.
The kitchen has a cheerful aspect, with hand-cut linoleum in a bold 1930s design taken from a headscarf. A vintage film poster from the Milan premiere of Some Like it Hot and a papier-mache giraffe’s head add a light-hearted touch to the otherwise simple space. Dining chairs upholstered in one of Yeoward’s herringbone weaves, ‘Barancona’ surround a mid-century Danish dining table. ‘If you like cooking, the chances are that you will spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so it has to be a pleasant room to be in,’ he says.
A dramatic chestnut wood and nickel four-poster with flanking chests of drawers dominates the bedroom. ‘This room refers back to those glorious suites of bedroom furniture that were ‘a thing’ in the 1930s,’ explains Yeoward. ‘The timber has a wonderfully rich tone and grain while the nickel is less harsh-looking than say steel or chrome.’ In contrast to the chestnut panelling, the rest of the room is lined with Yeoward’s ‘Hortense’ flocked linen. Beautiful appliquéd upholstery and colourful textiles soften the masculine materials.
Wander through to the en-suite and the look is much more graphic, with plain surfaces and painted shutters. The bath is set into a chestnut wood surround to echo the timber in the bedroom, while the soft blue walls are in harmony with the tones of the adjoining space. In addition, there are two dressing rooms, one of which is large enough to accommodate a bed and occasionally doubles up as a guest room. ‘The idea was to give the feeling of being in a very expensive hotel suite, where bedroom, bathroom and dressing quarters all blend together in a single entity,’ says Yeoward.
Although different in style to his country home, William Yeoward’s distinctive taste is still very much apparent with classic furnishings and colourful embellishments. ‘When I look back over my work, certain themes seem to recur: form, texture, colour, quality and above all, what I term as ‘practical glamour’’, he says. ‘When you buy something for your home it is essential it will give you continued pleasure, not just instant gratification. I like the early references such as the geometrics of the 1940s and 1950s and I believe what is right for today, is a mixture of yesterday and tomorrow.’
William Yeoward At Home: Elegant Living in Town and Country is published by CICO Books, (£25). Featured photography by Gavin Kingcome