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Joanna Wood's cosy retreat
Talented interior designer Joanna Wood has used her decorating skills to create a comfortable country retreat in Wiltshire, inspired by the surrounding farmland.
Joanna Wood's Georgian home in London is more formal, she says, and perhaps more what you’d expect of an interior designer, but here in her family's Wiltshire getaway you feel like you can really relax. ‘I wanted to keep the look simple,’ she explains, ‘there’s nothing too ornate: so you can put your feet up on anything.
‘I like hard floors,’ she continues, pointing out the wooden boards. ‘I don’t like people thinking that they can’t walk around in here in their wellies; a home should be practical. There’s no point in having cream carpets and reams of pink silk everywhere if you’ve got muddy dogs and small children – it’s just never going to work. Besides, I think that functionality is very much a part of beauty.’
Joanna has tried to work with the history of the building to retain its character. ‘Our barn is a mix of flint and brick,’ she says. ‘We’ve seen old photographs that show the cows were here in what would have been the cow byre. More recently, this house had been used as a location for shooting lunches, so when we moved in, it needed some work but thankfully we didn’t need to gut it completely.’
Joanna laid a mixture of practical sisal carpet and wooden flooring downstairs; she reserved the more luxurious carpets for the bedrooms. For paintwork she chose country creams and blues in most rooms, with a pretty floral paper in the main bathroom and a traditional horse pattern in the downstairs cloakroom. Some of the woodwork has been restored, and she replaced all the door furniture before finally adding the lighting – a combination of neat and functional spotlights and soft light from lamps and wall sconces.
Her biggest challenge, though, was creating the right atmosphere in the large sitting room, which features an open staircase that takes you up to a galleried area. Comfortable sofas are naturally gathered around the inglenook, there is a card table, a writing desk, and a bar. So there are lots of little areas where you can play chess, or do a jigsaw, or snuggle up in front of the fire with a book and a glass of wine. ‘It works really well for us as a family,’ says Joanna, ‘but we can also invite 30 or 40 people round for a drink and it doesn’t feel at all crowded.’
FEATURE NAOMI JONES PHOTOGRAPHS BRENT DARBY
Featured in the January 2010 issue of Period Living