The best interior designers and decorators in Britain

Of all the decorating trends that have been in vogue over the last 50 years – be it Scandi, Minimalism or Industrial – none has been as powerful or as enduring as that of the English Country House.

When choosing a designer, create a shortlist and have initial meetings. ‘When a project takes two or three years, the chemistry has to be right,’ says Henriette von Stockhausen of VSP Interiors. If they are engaged early in the planning process, an experienced interior designer can help to improve the flow of the layout, introduce inspiring ideas and contribute to a successful outcome.

There’s no industry standard for charging: fees vary from a percentage cost of supplying goods and furnishings; a fixed sum for the project; a fee for the design work, plus a handling charge for purchasing; an hourly rate; or a combination of the above.

‘It’s important to have good communication between designer and client from the start. A clear brief should be agreed up front and then a detailed proposal with costs should follow, so that all parties are clear on how and when the project will be achieved and what it will cost,’ advises Gilly Craft, the president of the British Institute of Interior Design (www.biid.org.uk).

 

Alidad

International interior designer Alidad (known only by his first name professionally) is an expert in elaborate and grand country-house style. For a taste of his talent, he offers occasional ‘At Home with Alidad’ interior-design days at his own apartment. He is currently working on private residential projects in Croatia, Paris and London.020–7384 0121; www.alidad.com

 

Birdie Fortescue

Designer and antique dealer Birdie Fortes-cue has a natural ability to combine the old and the new, creating elegant interiors that balance gentle hues with her flair for sourcing unusual antiques and contemporary art. Her Norfolk shop holds a treasure trove of block-printed fabrics, cushions, lamps and lampshades, alongside antique finds.
01328 851651; www.birdiefortescue.co.uk

Birdie Fortescue’s home in Norfolk. ©Simon Brown/Country Life

Birdie Fortescue’s home in Norfolk. ©Simon Brown/Country Life

Colin Orchard & Company

After training under Colefax and Fowler’s grande dame Imogen Taylor, Colin Orchard has developed an outstanding reputation for combining traditional country-house style with a restrained sense of grandeur. Mr Orchard’s current projects include a large private residence in New York, which is being completely rebuilt.
020–7351 5501; info@colinorchard.com

 

Edward Bulmer

As an interior designer, architectural historian and advocate of natural paints — with his own eco-friendly range — Edward Bulmer describes his approach as one that ‘embodies enquiry, practicality, scholarship, aesthetics, sustainability and some fun’. No wonder he is in demand for major projects, which currently include Arundel Castle, Glynde Place and Goodwood in Sussex.
01544 388535; www.edwardbulmerinteriordesign.co.uk

 

Edward Hurst

Perhaps best known for his work on the highly influential interiors at St Giles House in Dorset, antique dealer and interior designer Edward Hurst can be relied upon to do the right thing to protect the integrity of a period house.
01258 446477; www.edwardhurst.com

 

Guy Goodfellow

Guy Goodfellow cut his teeth at Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler, before setting up his own successful interior and architectural-design company specialising in traditional, elegant country-house style. His shop in Chelsea offers an in-house-designed selection of weaves, prints and wallpapers, based on historic textiles reinterpreted in imaginative colours.
020–7349 0728; www.guygoodfellow.com

 

Henrietta Spencer-Churchill

An international lecturer and the author of 11 books, Lady Henrietta specialises in grand English country-house style and runs her interior-design company, Woodstock Designs, close to her ancestral home at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire. At present, she is working on projects such as a villa on the coast of Croatia and the renovation of several Georgian properties in the UK.
01993 811887; www.spencerchurchilldesigns.com

 

Jane Churchill Interiors

A well-known name since setting up her company in 1975, Jane Churchill is admired for her deep understanding of the classic decorating tradition and her spirited approach to personal and quintessentially English style. She is also the founder of Jane Churchill fabrics, which is now owned by the Colefax Group. Current projects include a townhouse in Eaton Square, SW1, and a family home in Norway.
020–7730 8564; www.janechurchillinteriors.co.uk

 

Janine Stone & Co

Over the past 20 years, this company has built up a reputation for luxurious interiors with a classic, contemporary feel. It has an unusually wide-ranging service, covering both renovations and complete new-build projects, using its in-house architectural, construction and interior-design services to deliver an immaculately polished result.
020–7349 8888; www.janinestone.com

 

Joanna Wood

Joanna Wood’s designs are smart and luxurious, with an emphasis on comfort and colour. Recent projects include the US Ambassador’s London residence, Winfield House, W1, a cottage in the Cotswolds and a house in Florida, US. Other enterprises include her eponymous home-accessories shop in Pimlico, SW1, Lawson Wood bespoke upholstery, Phillips & Wood lighting and Lewis & Wood fabrics and wallpapers.
020–7730 0693; www.joannawood.com

 

John Evans Interior Architecture + Design

A master of adding a luxurious touch to country homes, John Evans has nearly 40 years’ experience of creating modern-classic designs with an individual — and sometimes quirky — feel. The firm has offices in Birm-ingham and London.
0121–233 9041; www.johnevansdesign.com

 

Linley

The interior-design studio is run by Graham Green and Michael Keech, who sold their architectural-interiors company Keech Green to Linley about two years ago. Their focus on ‘modern-deco’ and luxury British design is evident in recent projects, which include the refurbishment of suites at Claridge’s, W1.
020–7730 7300; www.davidlinley.com

Louise Jones

A polished approach to classic interior design with every modern comfort has earned Louise Jones her stripes. Current projects include individually designed guest suites at a luxury hotel on the island of Jura, a 17th-century house in Oxfordshire and a family home in Georgia, US.
020–7351 6858; www.louisejonesinteriors.com

 

Lucy Elworthy

Bringing a light decorative touch to country houses, Lucy Elworthy combines her experience as a former decoration editor of House & Garden with an imaginative eye for colour and texture. She is a dab hand at creating welcoming interiors with a natural sense of character.
07957 693246; www.lucyelworthy.co.uk

 

Max Rollitt

Max Rollitt wears three hats — he is an interior designer, antique dealer and furniture-maker, who likes to incorporate a sensitivity towards materials and Classical design into what he describes as ‘a refined yet informal style of decoration’. Current work includes a large house in Boston, US, a Hampshire vicarage and a London townhouse with an interior in the manner of Sir John Soane. Enjoy his joyous use of colour and see his bespoke-furniture collection alongside antiques at the showroom in a converted barn near Winchester, Hampshire.
01962 791124; www.maxrollitt.com

 

McWhirter Morris

Antique dealer James McWhirter and former Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler designer Sarah Morris draw on their extensive experience to create classic interiors with a subtle sophistication. Resolutely ‘anti-fashion’, the interior-decorating studio operates from the Chelsea-based McWhirter shop, which offers three floors of Continental and Eng-lish antique furniture and works of art.
020–7349 2575; www.mcwhirtermorris.com

 

Melissa Wyndham

Vanessa Macdonald continues to work in the spirit of the late, legendary interior designer Melissa Wyndham, with whom she collaborated. Expect sophisticated and elegant classic style with a modern twist, evident in country and city interiors.
020–7352 2874; www.melissawyndham.com

 

Nina Campbell

Doyenne of interior design Nina Campbell has an international reputation for classic English decoration, something she has skilfully evolved over the years to a simpler, more pared-back style — a journey that can be enjoyed in Nina Campbell Interior Decoration by Country Life’s Giles Kime. She has two London shops and constantly developing collections of fabric, wallpaper and furniture.
020–7225 1011; www.shop.ninacampbell.com

Penny Morrison

Known for injecting colour and character to any interior, Penny Morrison specialises in inviting and comfortable English style. She is currently busy on projects in the UK and Caribbean, continues to develop her gloriously patterned fabric and wallpaper collection and offers a selection of lamps and accessories, available online and from her Chelsea shop.
020–7384 2975; www.pennymorrison.com

 

Pippa Paton

Strong on using texture and subtle hues to create contemporary comfort in the country, Pippa Paton is particularly known for her work on barn conversions and traditional stone buildings in the Cotswolds, which she has transformed into homes well suited to 21st-century living. Mrs Paton has an innate understanding of how effective spatial planning can maximise the full potential of a property, however historic.
01865 595470; www.pippapatondesign.co.uk

 

Rita Konig

Rita Konig has earned many plaudits for work that is distinctly her own, creating relaxed and joyously comfortable interiors for transatlantic clients in both residential and commercial settings. She has recently launched her online interior-design course Create Academy.
020–3735 7280; www.ritakonig.com

Robert Kime

Distinguished antique dealer and interior decorator Robert Kime, whose clients include The Prince of Wales, creates traditional — but not stuffy — interiors, full of judiciously chosen antiques and colourful textiles. His Pimlico shop is a paradise of discovery, including antiques and his own collection of fabrics, wallpaper, lamps and furniture.
020–7831 6066; www.robertkime.com

Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler

This long-established interior-decorating firm, founded in the 1930s, has always been known for quintessentially English style. Today, its eight principal designers undertake a diverse range of projects worldwide, from traditional to cutting edge, from the refurbishment of a classic motor yacht and a Modernist ski lodge in Whistler, Canada, to an estate in Oxfordshire, a museum building in the Netherlands and the Chelsea Arts Club, London SW6.
020–7493 2231; www.sibylcolefax.com

 

Sims Hilditch

Pitch-perfect at calm, classic-contemporary English country style, Emma Sims-Hilditch specialises in creating quietly elegant and comfortable designs, never forgetting the practicalities required to make an inviting, family-focused home. Current projects include a 15th-century house on a country estate and a beach house in Jersey.
01249 783087; www.simshilditch.com

 

Susan Deliss

What Susan Deliss doesn’t know about ikats, silk embroideries, velvets and linens, probably isn’t worth knowing. She sells antique and vintage textiles, designs her own range of fabric and offers a collection of lampshades, one-off furniture pieces and decorative objects, and uses her appreciation of colour, pattern and antiques to create individual and bespoke interiors.
07768 805850; www.susandeliss.com

 

Susie Atkinson Design

Specialising in private houses and boutique hotels, Susie Atkinson creates contem-porary interiors that radiate a sense of personal character and understated luxury. Her recent projects include a 1930s motor yacht, a lateral apartment in Soho, London W1, and the five-start Lime Wood Hotel in the New Forest, Hampshire.
020–7384 0700; www.susieatkinson.com

Thorp

Smart, classic style is the forte of this well-established firm, which is headed by its founder Philippa Thorp. Geared towards an international clientele, the firm offers full architecture, interior-design, art-curation and landscaping services.
020–7235 7808; www.thorp.co.uk

 

Todhunter Earle Interiors

Expert at balancing the demands of contemporary living with the challenges presented by historic houses, Emily Todhunter and Kate Earle are highly regarded for their ever-fresh approach and imaginative designs. They work with some of Britain’s leading architects on country houses, as well as properties in London and New York.
020–7349 9999; www.todhunterearle.com

 

Veere Grenney Associates

A master of beauty and harmony, Veere Grenney creates interiors with a discreetly luxurious look. His designs are rooted in the Classical tradition, given life by the combination of contemporary, historic and sometimes charmingly modest. His fabric and wallpaper collection is admired for its elegant pattern and subtle colour palette.
020–7351 7170; www.veeregrenney.com

 

VSP Interiors

Known for designing large country properties — from a large family house to a historic castle in the Scottish Highlands — Dorset-based Henriette Von Stockhausen has a classic, colourfully eclectic style that successfully combines antiques and fine art with a sense of comfort and personality.
01305 265892; www.vspinteriors.com

 


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