Words Pearl Boyd
Since opening in 2011, Studio Duggan has certainly been the go-to place for elegance and distinction and we couldn’t wait to hear all about her top tips and tricks.
Your house is beautiful. Did you work on it in one go as if it were a job? Or was it ongoing?
Thank you! I approached it exactly as I would approach one of our projects, which meant working on it in one go. I think it’s really important to design holistically to achieve a balanced and harmonious look. That said, it does take time to add the last few layers of a home, and artwork and accessories did follow later.
How long have you lived there and what was it like when you bought it?
We have lived in the house for around 2.5 years, and spent about 6 months refurbishing it before moving in. The house wasn’t in a terrible state but it wasn’t to our taste and it was lacking in character. It had one bathroom serving five bedrooms, so we added two more bathrooms, and went down to four bedrooms, using one bedroom as a playroom for the boys by making a few structural tweaks.
What first attracted you to it?
We loved its grand proportions, high ceilings and period features. Also, the layout which works really well for us. The space is arranged over three really well-proportioned floors which means our two boys get a floor to themselves (where they can play with their toys and make a mess), and we get a little sanctuary in the master suite below. However, the biggest attraction was probably that it needed some work and a lot of love…I don’t think I could ever buy something that didn’t.
‘It’s really important to plan your home around your actual life – not the one that you aspire to’
What is your favourite room?
It’s so hard to choose but I think it would have to be our master bedroom. We knocked two rooms together to create a large suite with an open plan dressing/bathroom space. I remain totally in love with our canopy bed, bateau bath and open plan bathroom. It has a really peaceful vibe and is very much a sanctuary.
You have a mix of dark and light walls. How did you work out which colour should go where?
Choosing the paint colours was actually one of the first things I did. When choosing wall colours, I think the starting point should be the consideration of how you want a room to feel, which of course depends on how the space will be used. I knew I wanted dark, moody inky hued walls somewhere and the entrance hall and staircase, being a transitional space, was the perfect place to do this. I chose a wonderful sludgy khaki paint (Pebble, Fired Earth) for the living room. It’s so warm and enveloping and it’s an easy transition from the moody hallway. I went lighter and brighter in the kitchen and master bedroom with Ceviche for a touch of relief. I painted all of the ceilings the same colour as the walls to give the rooms a cohesive, comforting and more contemporary feel…and also to allow for a calming base on which to layer interesting textures and patterns. The colour scheme throughout the house consists of lots of greens, dusky pinks, deep blues with the odd pop of pillar box red and mustard.
Is there anything you want to change? Is a home ever finished?
I wouldn’t say there is anything I want to change, but there are things I’d like to add and build on. I’m thinking about adding some wall mounted, Moorish, glass-fronted cabinets in the kitchen for extra storage. Also, the garden is still a work in progress and I’ve been searching for the perfect, vintage Paul Frankl bamboo lounge chairs to buy. Inevitably a home will continue to evolve and adapt to the changing needs and desires of its inhabitants, but I do think it’s really important to get the base right at the beginning, and then everything else will follow. One way to keep a house looking and feeling fresh is to make a few seasonal tweaks. Nothing major – but swapping linens, scents, blankets/cushions does make a surprisingly big impact.
It’s one thing making a house look finished and beautiful – but how does daily life impact on it? Do you live tidily? What about your children? How strict are you with keeping everything in order?
I think that it’s really important to plan your home around your actual life – not the one that you aspire to. If you’ve got children, excellent storage solutions are a must-have to avoid the house becoming over-run with toys and we factored these sorts of practicalities in from the start. That said, I wouldn’t say I’m overly strict – the house does get messy and it’s impossible to keep it looking photoshoot ready at all times, but we do our best. Perfection is both unattainable and overrated – life is too short.
What are your favourite pieces of furniture?
I have three – our velvet Chesterfield sofa, our canopy bed and the blue leopard print armchair in our bedroom.
Do you have a signature style and can you describe it?
Our projects are pretty varied as they are very much informed by our Clients, but the underlying thread that runs through all of our work is a carefully curated mix of old and new, a relaxed and liveable feel…and just a touch of the unexpected.