Forest House

Having recently completed an award-winning refurbishment of their London home, our client engaged us to inject some soul and personality into their country retreat. 

Nestled deep in the New Forest National Park, the house was originally a mid-century bungalow extended and reconfigured by a previous owner. But this is no country cottage. The generous scale of the interior spaces presented a particular challenge. The open plan kitchen and living space is an impressive 14m x9m, with a four-metre ceiling. It was cold, echoey and dwarfed any furniture the client had placed there. As the new owners, our client were keen to bring warmth and character to the interiors.  

Having grown up in a much cherished mid-century house - our clients’ initial briefing point was the interiors of Frank Lloyd Wright; heavy, dark, warm woody tones, textural stone and concrete, architectural fireplaces, bold ceramics and fabrics. Think Falling Water or the Imperial Hotel with its blend of Japanese style.


Internal refurbishment

Extensive joinery design


375 sq m

5 Bedrooms, 5 bathrooms,



Interior design

Project management

Furniture, accessories, styling and dressing

"Yet again, The Vawdrey House have been the perfect partner to realise our aim of creating a modern and exciting space that is still welcoming and comfortable - we love spending time here."

Our response to the brief was to make minimal structural alterations, instead focussing on built-in joinery and injecting new texture, colour and finishes. But such a large-scale space necessitates bold, architectural-scale interventions.

We retained the existing double-sided wood burning stove in the centre of the room, wrapping it in a new, wider structure, clad in beautiful, glazed three-dimensional tiles.

At the base we commissioned a concrete hearth, polished to expose the aggregate. This created an architectural separation between the living area and kitchen / dining area; open enough to allow the spaces to flow but closed enough to make the reorientated living area more intimate.

We designed the kitchen to be pure and simple, but at a scale appropriate to the space. Handcrafted, by Inglis Hall, in a restrained palette of black and raw oak with brass accents it exudes simplicity and exceptional craftsmanship. The full-height open shelving above creates a back-drop of carefully curated accessories and serveware.

The client’s love of design and craft is present across the project; from the expressed boxed joints on the kitchen drawers, to the dark-stained oak. The unusual black finish is a result of  treating with an iron and vinegar solution that reacts with the tannins to ebonize the timber. The resulting finish is unique, and cannot be fully predicted. The worktop, which is made from Richlite (compressed recycled paper) is too long for a single sheet. The brass strip used at the junction between the two panels references kintsugi techniques - the Japanese method of expressing defects with gold.

The high level of craftsmanship continues into the new boot room, but with a more utilitarian treatment including a self-patinating zinc worktop and open shelving.

We worked closely with the client to carefully select new furniture and lighting to sit alongside cherished heirlooms as one coherent but eclectic scheme. Existing chairs and beds were re-upholstered and new investment pieces sourced that would stand the test of time. Nothing was to be too precious; furniture is to be used and enjoyed – like the house itself.

 We sourced a 1969 Robert Haussmann ‘Lichtstruktur’ chandelier to sit over the dining table. At night or on a drab winters day the 64 bulbs are reflected in the gloss tiles. Combined with the wood fire the light effect is warm and enticing, highlighting the luxe touches in the interior details.

Across the long rear wall that stretches from the kitchen to the living area we created a 13.5 metre long joinery installation, designed to blend with the kitchen, unifying the series of spaces. Also made by Inglis Hall, this accommodates aspects of the kitchen, a hidden door to the boot room, a cocktail bar, tableware storage and a library. A sliding library ladder is a fun, but also very practical addition.

Within this rear wall is a new 3x2 meter structural opening leading to a snug. The bigger opening creates a clear sightline through the building to the rear garden. Previously single aspect, the main space now benefits from a more varied sense of flow and light.  This cosy room was painted in a deep green with thick velvet curtains and a pallet of accent colours inspired a much-loved oil painting. We commissioned a handwoven Margo Selby rug in a bespoke design created to tie in with the clients’ Vitra Polder sofa.

Back through the three-meter sliding doors found in a Spanish reclamation yard and skilfully incorporated into the new joinery wall, is the bedroom and bathroom wing. We enriched what was previously a long, dark corridor by over-cladding one side in black oak, hiding a multitude of doors leading to cupboards, laundry rooms and bathrooms. Opposite we added new mouldings, a warm paint scheme and created focal points for yet more of the client’s art collection.  Behind one of these hidden doors lies the dramatic powder room, with black terrrazo floor and a statement terracotta coloured concrete basin.

The guest bathrooms and bedrooms are individual, but linked by a common richness of texture, fabric, colour and lighting. The result is much more boutique hotel than guest bedroom. We created upholstered, wall-to-wall headboards for each suite, complete with integrated lighting. We repurposed the existing beds to suit the new headboards and carefully sourced new furniture elements to work with existing pieces. Double curtain poles allow sheers to remain closed during the day for privacy with a cosy heavier layer to draw across at night.

Guest bathrooms echo the bedrooms, with contemporary matt glazed sanitaryware, concrete and zellige tiles which add artisanal feel and texture.

The master suite over-looking the garden is a calm sanctuary where use of colour and finishes have been dialled down. We created a Japanese-inspired oak slat sliding screen to hide walk-in wardrobe and bathroom doors. The new headboard appears as a freestanding piece of furniture, with heavily textured fabric and integrated lighting.

Light, matt porcelain floors and polished cement walls continue the calmer theme into the en-suite, with luxurious sunken bath. Timber cladding and copper brassware bring warmth. The result is an effortless, peaceful mid-century take on Japandi design.

The refurbished house is a retreat in the true sense of the word. A life enriching counterpoint to the client’s London home. As comfortable for the couple to cosy up in on a winters afternoon as itis for hosting hordes of extended family. The interiors now live-up to the beautiful woodland setting but with personality reflective of our truly fabulous and trusting clients.

With their focus on craftsmanship and quality materials, as well as a wonderful eye for design and finishes The Vawdrey House have exceeded all our expectations.

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