Building a dream
Interior designer Charlotte Crosland runs her interior design business from her dream studio, and loves her quick commute to work... a short walk across the garden. With wide-open glass doors, this fresh, colourful place is an ideal environment to design in and was inspired by lime green parakeets flitting among the young trees.
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Photographs: Jake Fitzjones
In the studio, the deeply coffered ceiling has six window lights. To help give a homely atmosphere, the floor is made of Herringbone oak, a modern take on parquet. Pendant style lighting over the central steel work tables are particularly chic and give a feeling of balance to the overall layout of the room.
Wall lighting in the studio helps to soften things, and the walls are painted using a warm neutral colour while, in contrast, all the files are sizzling orange, offering both statement style and storage.
In the frame
The Yorkstone paved garden, with osmanthus, cherry trees, Japanese anemone, lavender, and white camellias, lead to a 'boxy' design studio featuring Crittall windows which "cost an arm and a leg" but open up into the garden, with its striking twin giant lanterns.
A refurbishment on a grand scale
Having studied interior design at Chelsea College of Arts, Crosland worked for an architect for two years to gain structural knowledge and then joined an interior design firm. As a sideline, she took on personal projects. Her now dream home used to be a run-down house in the then 'no-go' part of Ladbroke Grove, divided into 10 flats. It took six months to tear down the partitions and add balconies or terraces.
Quality is key
Gracious lines dominate across Crosland's home and she sets much store by using good-quality fabric such as linen, hard-wearing floor coverings like lino or wood, and premium paints.
Splash some colour
Use colour, Crosland advises, "Don't be scared by it, but do use good quality paints. The colours are better, it goes on better and gives a better finish." When she first moved into her house, she painted the place white. By doing that, it was possible for her to decide on colours gradually as she got used to the space.
A grown up retreat
Designing the house together, Crosland and her husband, Michael Wood, chose to open up right into the roof to create one huge high room with a generous en suite bathroom. This serene space away from family activity was intended for parents only.
The glamorous bath, designed by Crosland, has an iroko surround with a radiator built stylishly into the side. She believes in getting the small points of styling just right; choosing good taps aren't just important for functionality, they can really make the overall look of a bathroom.
An eye for detail
Keeping it in the family, there's even a rug by her sister, textile designer Neisha Crosland (whose silver wallpaper features in another bathroom, and her prints in the family TV room downstairs). Keen on elegant storage, which Crosland designs herself, her interiors are never bland.
Go with your heart
Crosland has strong opinions on quality. When choosing a sofa she says, "They have to be comfortable or there is no point. Spend a bit more money if needed." Likewise, of rugs she advises to "Add rugs at the beginning of redecorating and then build the whole colour scheme around them...Rugs are like works of art. Buy something you love."
Magnolia drawings in one of the bedrooms are hung in pairs - Crosland firmly believes two is always nicer than one, explaining, “Pairs are to do with symmetry and balance — it’s a Georgian principle.”
Worth the wait
The kitchen is of "epic proportions", and was created by knocking through the next door flat. It was something that Charlotte and her husband had to wait several years to do but turned out to be a well-made decision.
Crosland feels strongly about getting the lighting in a room right, saying, "It is so important, yet people still don't put in enough low-level lighting, such as table lamps...always put in five-amp circuits at the start, with dimmers. Then you can put on all your lamps in a room at the flick of a switch and turn them off the same way - and control the level for variations in mood."
Put a personal stamp on it
Cupboards and wardrobes have a big effect in a room, so if you are building them in, make them attractive. They don't all have to be the same, but they should suit the room. Crosland's helpful tip on how to create an appearance of individual style, when buying storage on a budget, is to "change the knobs and the hinges - it makes a huge difference."
Go for the natural option
Crosland is an advocate for choosing soft furnishings that are organic rather than synthetic, where possible. She says, "Use natural fabrics and fibres. They last really well and keep looking good, especially in a family home. Good-quality linen, linoleum and sisal last longer than carpet."
A brave undertaking
Making her dream a reality proved to be no mean feat - a gigantic protected oak tree in the garden meant laying 23ft-deep foundations to stop the tree toppling over (that’s higher than a double-decker bus!) and huge amounts of soil had to be moved — about 100 skips — as part of the process. Yet, if she were asked whether all the hard work was worth it, you can bet she would respond in the affirmative.