KENT COUNTRY HOUSE
The luxury interior design team at René Dekker Design has created a stunning family home at this rural retreat, situated on a quiet road on the southern tip of the Kent coast. Originally a small cottage of some 2 500 square feet (232 square metres) comprising of a series of badly planned additions, the layout was redesigned and extended to create the ultimate country bolt-hole. Retaining only the front facade of the existing single story dwelling, the house now occupies a footprint one and half times the size of the original home, with the ground floor including a double volume reception room with exposed beams, stone floor, contemporary centralised fireplace as well as 3 further bedroom suites and the kitchen, with the added benefit of a second floor housing guest suites, a wine room, study and entertainment room.
The house started out life as a small country cottage, set in an acre of mature garden. The clients had owned this property for many years, originally using it as a country get away due to its proximity to the children’s boarding school as well as being quite close to the clients mother. Over the years they re-landscaped the garden, built a small two bedroomed guest house which included an authentic Russian banya as well as adding a large luxury pool and wine storage. When, after twenty years, the children had ‘flown the coop’ and business was thriving, they decided to finally take the plunge and redesign the house to make better use of the space and to ensure its usefulness for future generations. As the house was in a conservation area and could not be completely demolished, an application was submitted to Kent County Council to demolish only the internal part of the building, removing the rear façade and extending it by a further five metres as well as digging down to create a large basement to house a games room and utility space. In the process of demolishing the internal area, the structure of the façade was compromised and during some particularly inclement weather, the entire house collapsed. It was at this stage that the architect submitted a variation on the last proposal, looking to instead build a second floor behind a mansard roof, thus keeping the original look of the façade but gaining extra space that had more natural light. Work began in earnest in the summer with a completion date of early January.
The award winning design team at René Dekker Design set about immediately putting together schemes for the various rooms. As is the norm for these kinds of projects this began with the hard interior landscaping, choosing finishes such as the stone and the timber for the floors, designing a typical door, setting out and developing the bespoke joinery for each area and choosing cornices and ironmongery. Next came the finishes and colour palette; for the principle rooms these were chosen keeping the mood and the spirit of the home in mind, using soft muted colours mixed in with light and dark neutrals. The bedrooms on the other hand were tailored for each family member according to their tastes. Finally, once the interior design was completed, work started on the soft furnishings schemes. Classical country house fabrics with embroidered flowers were mixed with modern geometrics to stop the house from becoming too traditional and fussy. The end result is a clever combination of both classical and modern elements that give this home a relaxed and inviting atmosphere yet keeping it on trend and current.
There are several entrances to this house but the main one is located at the front of the building just off the carriage drive. It is laid with cream limestone laid out in a large flag stone format and the walls are hung a in a neutral faux linen. A large bespoke wardrobe was created to house all the coats and shoes for the family as well as visiting guests and a classically inspired sofa and zebra hide complete the scheme. Just off the entrance to the right of the front door is the guest toilet; a stunning little room panelled at low level in marble made from petrified jellyfish and at high level in washed walnut with matching plantation shutters. Walking down a small corridor, you enter the heart of the house, a grand double volume living room, dominated by full height joinery. Thus bespoke item, like so many in the house was designed to the client’s exact specification; to display artworks and objets collected over the years. To ensure all items were accessible, the design team added a tall ladder, giving it the charm of an old library unit. At the centre of this imposing space is the fire place which is open, not only in this room but also benefits the dining room. Above this is the ubiquitous television, large enough to be viewed from the summer house just beyond the garden doors. This room comfortably seats ten people with the two oversized deep buttoned sofas and the recliner arm chairs, perfect for lazy Saturday afternoon sports viewing. Two bespoke display cases were designed as the client also had a large collection of snuff boxes which needed to be displayed. The scheme is completed with a large traditional rug, some occasional tables and oriental table lamps. The open plan dining space sits neatly tucked under the mezzanine level and the specially made dining table comfortably seats 12 people for everyday use, extending for large family gatherings to seat twenty people. The three book cases were designed to match the joinery in the living space giving an overall unified feel to the space. Further features in the room include the masterful Kevin Reilly candle pendant, the scaled model of the Trafalgar and the suit of armour all bringing an air of authenticity to the space.
The luxury kitchen like all of the other joinery items was bespoke and was designed exactly as the client wanted; an island conducive to preparing food with conversation, a large wine fridge and lots of storage space. Lighting was a key element in the design of this house and this is evident in the attention to detail in this room where not only did the designers include indirect and plinth lighting but all drawers are internally lit making everything easily visible no matter the time of day or the time in your life! The floor is laid in a rusticated Nero Marquina laid out in the same pattern as the hall which lies just beyond the doors and the striking Bianco Eclipsia work tops and splash back give this room that wow factor.
On this floor there are further bedrooms, each unique and different. On the north side lays the master bedroom, overlooking the lush landscaped rear garden, resplendent in shades of rose and clay. The walls are hung in a light cream linen wall covering offset by the dark timber floor. A large deep buttoned bed dominates the room, luxuriously dressed in layers of fabrics, faux fur and cushions, giving the room an ultra-luxe ambience. There are also several small oriental rugs, which were the initial inspiration for the colour scheme, and occasional furniture items which all compliment this warm scheme. The en suite is a bright and well-appointed room with floor to ceiling Arabescato marble, complementing the luxury of the adjoining bedroom. Here the design employs the use of two different marbles, one dark and one light giving the space its dramatic look. Heated floors and walls, a jacuzzi bath, integrated audio visual and a spa style shower for hot and cold showering make this room the ultimate in bathroom wellness. Next to this there is another well-appointed guest bedroom dressed up with layers of interesting and exotic fabrics, using rich muted colours and texture. This room uses a darker and more contrasting palette with a shimmering paisley patterned wall covering in dark taupe which is balanced by the light fabrics on the headboard and the large scatter cushions. Green was the accent choice here giving the room its earthy and calm demeanour and this has been expertly applied by the use of contemporary fringing complimenting the ‘ botanical’ print. A warm tone in the form of the silk mohair cushions and the throw blanket edging has been introduced and a smattering of the client’s original sketches and watercolours finish off the scheme. Further key pieces include the handmade desk and bedside tables in dark oak, the contemporary wardrobes and the Greek key patterned rug. The en suite follows the thread making use of a warm limestone and complimenting polished plaster and the design on the front of the vanity mimics that of the wardrobes.
Upstairs there is a large open plan snug which overlooks the double volume living room. Here the layout includes a classically inspired sofa and two large wingback chairs upholstered in a bold print ethnic fabric. This is the clients wine tasting room and the bespoke joinery includes eight top of the range wine cooler fridges which hold up to eight hundred bottles of perfectly chilled wines. Just off this space are the games room and the study, both tucked into the spaces under the mansard. The study has made use of full height joinery to hold the client’s collection of books as well as lockable filing. The interior designer wanted this room to include elements of vintage travel trunks, a nod to the client’s penchant for travel hence the leather and studded detail found on the long two-person desk made in the same timber as the book case. The walls are hung in a dark blue linen wall covering and the scene is completed with a classical arm chair upholstered in cream and blue plaid and a hair on hide run-up. The games room has a distinctly eclectic feel to it with its expansive leather deep buttoned sofa, drum tables and original artworks, comically translating original Soviet worker style posters into modern representations of Russian liberties.
This floor also has a further two bedrooms, both distinctly different; one colourful and vibrant for the daughter and the other more masculine for the son. The son’s room has is fairly monochromatic utilising just one shade of midnight blue to offset the otherwise neutral palette. Here the designer has made full use of pattern and texture allowing the viewer to discover the room in time rather that giving it an instant visual impact.