British designer Claire Rendall is known for her approachable, elegant design work. She’s starred in BBC1’s popular design shows DIY SOS and Animal Park, and has also collaborated on both furniture and home accessory lines.
So, while she was designing her own country manor house (located near Bath in Southwest England), Rendall embraced a mix of comfort, sophistication, and lots of personal touches. She notes, “Good design is as much about comfort and practicality as it is about looking good.”
Here, she chats with Domino about her style inspirations and embracing rustic living.
How would you describe your style?
For my clients, my aim is to make their dreams come true. For myself, I love so many styles. I love the crisp clean lines of a contemporary home and the layered textures of something more historic. I love bright, intense color and soft, muted hues.
For this home, I felt the style would be slightly dictated by the building itself—which is a lovely country manor house—and by my own eclectic collection of objects and pictures. I enjoy these pieces so much; they all hold lovely memories for me. When I’m creating a scheme for a client, I think it’s important to inject some texture and personality. Homes that have a “we had a decorator in” look can feel very sterile and bland if you’re not careful. Even if a scheme is simple, texture and personality are still important.
Your home is set on such a breathtaking landscape. How did you find it?
I was drawn to the lovely big rooms, stone mullion windows, sweeping oak staircase, and amazing views across the valley. We have an acre of garden, which I love. It’s great therapy on the weekends, rooting around in the soil—planning and planting. I love the mature trees, and have been thrilled to add more trees to the space.
This house was on the market for a year before we were ready to move, but I remember thinking there was something about it that drew me in. It reminded me of the house in the movie Something’s Gotta Give. When I eventually came to view the house, the last room I viewed was the cinema room. Guess which DVD was on top of the pile? That’s right—Something’s Gotta Give. It was a sign!
What is your favorite room?
That’s a difficult one, but like a lot of families, we spend a lot of time in the kitchen. We have an Aga, so in the winter, it’s a joy to snuggle around. I’ve kept this space quite contemporary, with white glass on the kitchen table and splash backs, and I love the book matched Carrara marble worktops. I contrasted all of this with old Indian timber pillars and timber flooring. I also tucked away USB points and extra chargers—we seem to spend time on our laptops here, so practicalities are essential.
I also love the light fitting over the table—it’s an Italian 1970s design that I bought in Sydney. The painting above the sink, I bought for 50p in a junk shop many years ago.
The fruit bowl belonged to David Bowie, and is very treasured.
You are known for your creative designs. Is there a particular design project in your own home that you are especially proud of?
I was really pleased with the way the dining room projects turned out. The ceiling is papered in a design that looks like distressed, pressed tin panels. It reminds me of a bar in Sydney where I used to wind down with the builders at the end of the day. I wanted to personalize the fireplace, so I painted my own version of Delft Tiles: They feature our parrot, the view from the garden, my classic car… all things that mean something to me personally.
Sometimes, I use my own home to test ideas and products. I painted the floor to test a new floor paint product, and also to bring in light and add a bit of fun to the room.
What is a typical day at home like for you?
If it’s the weekend, it’s usually a slow start. But whatever the weather, I try and get out into the garden. When we moved in, it was a mass of weeds, so it has been a joy bringing it back to life.
I think gardens and interiors are closely linked. It’s important to an interior that the view works too. I’m a bit of a style slave, and flowers tend to be white, blue, or purple. I’m really keen on enhancing the environment—last year, we built a pond. It’s great: You dig a hole, fill it with water, and everyone turns up! It’s a total joy.
We love entertaining, and when you’re in such a lovely space, it’s great to share it with family and friends. They really bring the place alive.
What’s the best advice you can give someone designing his or her home?
Take your time making big decisions. Paint color samples on large sheets, and move them around the room to see how they work in changing light. Don’t stress if you make a mistake, either—usually, it can all be redone.
What are some home decor shops or sites you’re loving right now?
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