A treat for you this week as we are going to take a proper look around the home that was featured on last week’s Grand Designs. Those of you that watch the programme may relish a closer look and the rest of you will, I think, enjoy seeing it for the first time.
It belongs to former fashion journalist turned interior designer, Beth Dadswell and is one of those rare homes that made me properly jealous. Beth and her husband Andrew Wilbourne bought the derelict dairy in south London and were determined to keep as much as possible of the original – a move of which I heartily approve.
When their architect Takero Shimazaki came to look round for the first time, he totally understood their vision and just said: “OK we’re keeping everything.” And they tried, they really did; repurposing old gutters into garden lighting and keeping original switches as well as exposing the original beams and bricks where possible.
So often on programmes like this, and in life it must be said, people fall in love with a run-down building and then proceed to rip the guts out of it turning it into the home they want. And I’ve lost count of the number of homes I’ve seen on Grand Designs where an amazing building has been ruined by cheap furniture and a complete lack of interior vision.
I’m sure there isn’t always much money left over for the fixtures and fittings when you’ve built a whole new house, but very rarely do the owners seems to bring anything of their past lives with them. This is something I constantly preach – your home must tell your story and you must bring things from your old house to the new. Your Granny’s armchair, someone else’s Granny’s armchair if you like, but pieces with character and history that you will incorporate into your own story.
In this case, the building had its own story to tell and was allowed to do that while Beth and Andrew brought their own history to blend with that of the building and it has so much more beauty and character for that.
The ceiling joists were left exposed with their pretty cross beams and outside the exposed brick walls were left alone. Inside, because I know you are going to ask me, the plaster walls were left in their original colour and simply sealed with decorator’s varnish.
A simple kitchen was created from cheap tongue and groove while the money was spent (I’m guessing) on brass taps black handles and zelige tiles to create something that looks so much more bespoke and expensive that it was. This is another key thing to remember when it comes to interior design – spend money on the touch points and the details as these are the bits you interact with and will remember.
Beth has been renovating and redesigning properties for the last ten years and has developed her own style mixing modern and vintage, and inexpensive with unusual using a soft palette of colours that compliment the style of the rooms she is working on. The overall look is both calm and characterful and very much echoes my own ethos – see the kitchen below with its black accent, touches of natural wood and mix of old and new.
But she’s not averse to a dark wall either, as this sitting room below shows and is that a turmeric sofa in the bay window? I noticed last week, by the way, that Grazia devoted a double page spread to its colour of the season – saffron. So call it what you will – and Beth says it’s mustard – it doesn’t if you’re wearing it, sitting on it or, erm, eating it – there’s no escaping it these year.
Another dark wall in this project and a more luxe feel with the marble island showing that Beth is capable of more than one look – and a glance round her extensive portfolio will show you that.
“After 18 years in fashion journalism and several quietly buying and renovating properties with the help of a builder friend I decided to leave fashion (and its endless travelling) following the birth of my son, now 11.
“I always encourage clients to celebrate and restore any period features, to avoid too many shiny/new finishes and to have plenty of older pieces in the mix. This makes a room feel cosy and lived in rather than show home,” she says.
“Inevitably I have worked on lots of Victorian and Edwardian properties – restoring them to their former glory – but having completed The Old Dairy I am hoping there may be some more industrial projects on the horizon.”
It was a brave decision to call her business Imperfect Interiors but for Beth it sums up her ethos perfectly. Her interiors are not imperfect but are, in fact, perfect because they celebrate their imperfections and incorporate them into the overall design bringing the kind of character and personality that you can’t create with dead straight walls and square rooms.
I hope you have enjoyed today’s stroll through 10 Beautiful Rooms, personally I’m wondering why I spent so long trying (and failing) to find the perfect millennial pink when I should have just gone back to the plaster and left it natural which would have been so much better. I love Beth’s house and if you want to see more of her work then visit her site. You may even want to hire her for your own project….
All images by Chris Snook make sure you credit if you pin or use