Situated in Wharfe Valley, the stunning Sugden property is an Edwardian house with tones of vibrancy and pattern. Ilkley based Ann Marie Cousins explains the thinking behind the interior design. Photography by Heidi Marfitt
What initially excited you about taking on this project?
When the client contacted me, it was as they were buying the house and they were keen to inject new life into this beautiful Arts and Crafts home. It was great to understand the family’s interests and their dynamic before taking on this project as that’s always fundamental to my design process before I start a new project. Every project involves me really getting to know my clients so that I can create a space that really works for them; a haven to retreat to at the end of a busy day. This family are incredibly social and allowed me total creative freedom in their home, meaning I could edge them outside of their comfort zone and inject lots of colour and texture into each room that reflected their personalities, such as the hummingbird wallpaper in the bathroom and the disco ball in the sitting room.
What was your brief?
A busy family home, the brief was to create a versatile space that was suitable for both entertaining and everyday needs, whilst also reflecting the homeowners’ engaging personalities through a mix of colour and pattern. The clients were keen to move away from the neutral scheme of their last home and asked us to guide them towards braver choices.
How did you look to incorporate the personalities of the owners?
As the homeowners often socialised and entertained at home, I wanted to ensure the space was adaptable so it was perfect for hosting as well as being a functional day-to-day home. I therefore really wanted each room to tell a different story and offer a wow-factor whenever they had friends and family round, but also provided plenty of storage to use all year round. The brief was to create spaces which were the perfect spaces to relax when they were chilling out after a busy day, but equally could accommodate large gatherings when their adult children came to visit or when they threw large parties. The use of rich colour gave heart to the generous rooms and created welcoming spaces, while creating spaces which felt like them.
What was the first thing you tackled with the project?
In all our projects, we first address layout and how the clients will use the space, before then planning any technical details like lighting and joinery plans. Once we have clarified those elements, we then move onto the decorative finishes and furnishings.
Were there any challenges to overcome?
We worked on a tight timeframe, first meeting the client in early September and handed over the scheme in time for Christmas. It was an incredibly intense project and was only possible by working closely with the trades and thinking through all the details, from tile and grout specifications to lighting plans.
The colour really stands out, as it does in many of your projects. Why is colour so important to you?
Colour boosts our mood and provides a more stimulating and interesting environment, so that the space reflects our clients’ style. By guiding them to consider colours or pieces that they might not have considered, we create spaces which might initially surprise them but ultimately feel very much like home. Colour excites me so much and I love to guide our clients on how colours work together, to change the tone and the mood of the rooms.
Can you tell us about some of the more unique pieces of furniture you implemented in this project?
We love adding bespoke elements to our projects, from working with amazing artists like creating a scheme around Louise Hepworth Wood’s art in the sitting room, to custom soft furnishings, complemented by pieces of furniture which just finish off the project perfectly. On this job, we added some beautiful details, from the super luxe Jonathan Adler cabinet in the rich green sitting room, while injecting joyful exuberance in the disco ball which complements it. This client told us that every time she walks into these rooms, she gets goosebumps on her arms and can’t believe that they’re hers. That’s always our goal – to create rooms which our clients adore. They might not have ever imagined that being the end result, but our clients loving their homes long after we wrap up a project is always our focus throughout a project.
Why did you introduce elements of biophilia into the project?
I always try and include hints of greenery and the outdoors within my designs, whether that’s physically in the form of houseplants or via interesting patterns and materials for curtains and cushions for example. For this home, we introduced an array of colour and pattern into the living room especially including the tropical print curtains, the dark green, velvet armchair and forest green walls – which really make a statement. Bold colours naturally connect us with the outdoors, so I wanted to be bold in this living room to reflect the garden which can be enjoyed from the large window.
How did you approach the master bedroom and en-suite?
I wanted to continue the rich colour palette and Art Deco details from the living space to the upstairs, so included gold and blue within the colour palette for a cohesive look and feel. As the bedroom has lots of natural light, I opted for a bold, dark blue ceiling paired with a sea green upholstered bed, blue and pink scatter cushions and a stunning hand-painted mural which spans the wall behind the bed. The dark blue was continued into the bathroom in the form of a navy painted ceiling and a navy double vanity unit, which I paired with gold accents in the form of the hummingbird wallpaper – allowing the opulence of the gold mural to gently weave its way into the en-suite.
What’s the idea behind the gold tree mural?
The mural by Daniel Bland of Bland Design was the starting point for the room, as the client had long been a fan of his, but she was unclear about how to incorporate his work into the room. We talked about how she loved Chinoiserie and spoke to Daniel about how to combine it with his style. We had several meetings with him and the client to discuss how to make the most of the space and the beautiful period details. By working together, we decided on the tree mural with the hummingbirds and we added the gold accents to increase the sense of opulence. We added further gold accents through the room to give cohesion to the master suite, and continued this glamourous tone throughout the home. The home is an Arts and Crafts house, so the client was keen to have a nod towards the early 20th century in her new home in the form of the scallop headboard.
What do you love most about the finished project?
It was great to incorporate the clients’ existing dining table and inject a new lease of life in it by having it French polished. We added new chairs in a vibrant yellow velvet, which tied in the clients’ much loved artwork, which we reframed. We added the beautiful walnut sideboard by Karpa, whose brass legs complemented the sputnik pendant light over the dining table.
See more of Ann Marie’s work at amcinteriordesign.co.uk