We talk to Hampshire-based interior designer, Lucy Cunningham, about what makes her tick and her latest interior design projects. Layers of the unexpected set Lucy’s refined English aesthetic apart... but where does she find this unexpected inspiration...
Behind the brand
The last thing I bought and loved was an antique kilim rug which I’ve put in my kitchen, its perfect shade of blue meets your eye as you walk in through the front door and always makes me smile!
The place that means a lot to me is Le Deux Tours in Morocco, I often visit with my mum. It’s heaven on earth and where I feel the most relaxed. It's out of the city centre and is set in the most beautiful gardens with peacocks roaming around… the architecture and interiors are breathtaking - from the Moroccan tiles on the floors to the fabulous ceilings and even the little bar... it's all so chic and charming… I could go on and on!
My favourite souvenir is the sweetest little Morrish table from my last trip to Morocco - circa 1890 it has the most exquisite inlay work …what a find - it has made me very happy!
The best books I’ve read in the past year are 'Where the Crawdads Sing' by Delia Owens - it's beautifully written and the imagery in the book is breathtaking… I heard this quote and it's so true of this book… “you know you have read a good book when you turn the last page and its as if you have lost a friend” - that's how I felt. Another is, 'If in Doubt Wash Your Hair' by Anya Hindmarch – it's such a brilliant book…having worked for Anya I was desperate to get my hands on it… it was so typically her - brilliantly funny but also the BEST advice - what more could we all want?
The podcast I’m listening to is The Modern House with Matt Gibberd – and also Kit Kemp - An award-winning interiors designer on her design secrets, dealing with setbacks and finding your own style
In my fridge, you’ll always find Diet Coke, it's my guilty pleasure!
Some of my best ideas have come while in the garden. We were lucky enough to have inherited the most beautiful garden from the previous owner, artist Lucy Dickens. It’s bursting with glorious colours and smells and always gives me such inspiration.
The thing I couldn’t do without out is my tape measure!!! You cannot measure things enough times!!
The event that changed everything for me was moving to Gloucestershire in 2014 which is when I worked on my first big project, a beautiful ex- national trust home just outside Burford. The clients were a dream and we’re still friends today.
An indulgence I would never forgo is getting my colour done at Josh Wood. David Iman is a total genius.
The last piece of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a pair of Malone Souliers heels and an amazing dress from ByTimo.
My favourite building is Farm Street - the church in Mayfair that we got married in. It looks so inconspicuous from the outside but inside it’s incredibly opulent and decorative, with painted ceilings, artwork and stained glass windows. Plus there is a great pub next door that used to be owned by Guy Richie.
My favourite room in my house is the sitting room, I’ve filled it with favourite finds from my travels and it’s where we spend time as a family.
The best advice I’ve ever received was from Anya Hindmarch, who told me to make sure I surrounded myself with a good team.
One artist whose work I would collect is Kate Corbett Winder. I have three pieces at the moment and just love the colours and movement in them.
About Lucy's interior design...
Trillgate Farmhouse is a beautiful example of a Cotswold house, full of charm and character. Where do you begin to work on a project of this size?
With most projects, we begin by thinking about what the property needs in order to turn it into a beautiful yet functional home. The process can often begin with some building work or tweaks to layout etc followed by developing layered schemes that add character and warmth. We love to blend the contemporary and classic, drawing from a variety of cultures and finding special pieces that bring the room to life and create interest.
Where did you draw your inspiration from?
I’ve always been incredibly curious about different cultures and draw a lot of influence from my travels. I’m passionate about mixing colour and patterns from different cultures with art, antiques and textiles from a variety of periods. Often it can be a single piece found at a flea market that sparks the inspiration for an entire scheme.
Talk us through the living rooms, you kept them light with soft shades like Farrow & Ball's Setting Plaster and Parma Gray. What was the process you used to piece together the other elements to the room?
The magnificent original fireplace and flagstone flooring provided an anchor for this room. We wanted to create a space that enhanced rather than overwhelmed these traditional country features, so worked on a soft, soothing palette, using muted colour on the walls and introducing lots of pattern and bolder colour through textiles accessories, wall coverings behind the shelving and lots of statement pieces.
You have mixed contemporary and traditional here, What Lorfords pieces did you use in this characterful renovation?
We found the most wonderful Lorfords pieces for this room. I always get excited about what amazing things I’ll find when I visit to source for a new project. This is a Swedish antique rug that we found and instantly fell in love with… the colours were calming but added some depth to the room scheme - it’s the perfect finishing touch.
What are your basic rules for mixing contemporary and traditional?
Honestly, I know it sounds like a cliché but I really don’t have any rules, actually, I try to avoid them as I think they get in the way of natural curiosity and the ability to push yourself out of your comfort zone. One thing I do often say is: ‘If it’s beautiful and it makes you happy then try it!’
Your client was an American family – did they have specific wants/needs within the property that you factored into your designs?
They wanted the interiors to feel typically Cotswold-y and retain as much authenticity as possible so we went for a traditional country house palette, dressing it with a mixture of traditional and also slightly more contemporary patterns and colours inspired by a number of cultures. Having worked on the clients previous home we had a great relationship already in place and they completely trusted our ideas so we had a lot of free reign.
Rugs and fabrics feature heavily in your designs, resting against stone flooring or whitewashed exposed brick. How do you choose the textiles involved? And what are your tips for pairing textiles and patterns?
Rugs can really make a room; it’s an element that brings everything together as well as providing an added layer of warmth and homeliness, especially if you are working with harder flooring such as stone or wood. I choose rugs in the same way that I choose fabrics and wall coverings – beautiful colours and patterns that speak to the furniture and fabrics chosen for the rest of the space. Saying this, sometimes, if we have found an incredible rug it might be that we work backwards from there and build the scheme around the rug. My tip would be to treat a rug like you would fabrics and wallpapers – don’t be afraid to experiment and mix a variety of colours, patterns and textures.