In a Tudor Revival home in Cobham, Surrey, interior designer Kim Stephen has crafted a chic yet laidback take on modern country style
After spending a number of years searching for the right property in the ideal location, the new owners of this characterful home in Cobham, Surrey, asked London-based interior designer Kim Stephen to assist them with its renovation. They wanted “a house that had a contemporary feel, but that was still homely and comfortable,” says Stephen.
After eight months of work, the update was complete, with the result being interiors that encapsulate the understated elegance that constitutes a very contemporary update on country living. The house is home to a family of five who moved to the United Kingdom from South Africa five years ago and is situated within walking distance of the heart of the village of Cobham.
Very much in accord with the location of the house are its readily recognizable Tudor Revival elements—including classic half-timbering on the upper floors—which made the interior renovation project something of a challenge. “The ceiling lines in the bedroom areas really were a struggle as they were all over the show, at angles and starting at different points where the wall meets the ceiling,” says Stephen. This meant that using wallpaper was impossible in many of these first-floor spaces, and explains the very practical, yet also elegant, decision to either end wall paint color an even 50cm below the ceiling line or paint ceilings and walls in exactly the same color in several of the bedrooms.
Despite the challenges, the end result throughout the home is a feeling of cocooning comfort with a relaxed but contemporary aesthetic. “I used plenty of texture and layering to achieve this,” says Stephen, whose design style always balances sophistication with a relaxed livability. The house is spacious, including five bedrooms and five bathrooms, but the interiors give it an easy-going appeal that means it never feels rambling or overly large.
The guest bathroom is on the ground floor, close to the main entrance. The Deconstructed Stripe wallpaper by Miles Redd for Schumacher offsets the black and white striped rug, which is a custom design by Floor_Story. The Single Thames Vanity Basin Suite is from Drummonds and the Macintosh taps are from Lefroy Brooks. Glamorous brass-detail wall sconces are by Kelly Wearstler.
In the guest bathroom, a planter picked up for a song at H&M Home is paired with a storage container from South Africa.
One of the key structural elements added during the renovation is a set of glass and metal interior windows (and a door), which were inserted between the entrance hall and the main living room of the home. These serve to demarcate and add a more intimate sense of privacy to the living room area while also allowing a clear view through to the front door.
The choice of an early 20th-century industrial-style aesthetic for these glass and metal windows is an inspired one. They provide a subtle contemporary feel to the home while simultaneously complementing the more traditionally styled elements, such as the wooden staircase, which was also installed during the renovation.
The glass and metal doors that were added during the renovation project separate the main living room from the entrance hall, while also allowing a view through to the front door. The charcoal wallpaper is Textures Vegetales wallpaper by Élitis , against which the deep blue of the planter and bold green of the fiddle-leaf fig that it contains stand out boldly. The leather and wood bench is the Franc Ottoman by Cape Town-based furniture maker Andrew Dominic, manufactured in a custom size and shipped to the UK from South Africa.
A set of French doors opens onto the main living room on the left. Stephen designed the tall black bar cabinet with brass handles, which has bi-fold doors and opens up to a fully stocked bar with integrated fridges below. The colourful decorative urns on top of the bar cabinet are made from papier-mâché and were sourced from William Yeoward, and the Caracas Two-Light wall sconce is by Jonathan Adler.
Adding yet more up-to-the-minute appeal to the elegantly furnished living room are discreet touches of colour on scatter cushions and in artworks, as well as a plethora of indoor plants. Says Stephen, “I am a big believer in making a home come alive with greenery and it works especially well in this home against the textured charcoal wallpaper used in much of the ground floor.”
Leading off one side of the living room is a compact home office, while on the other side a pair of wood and glass doors opens onto the kitchen and dining area. These are open plan, with all the storage required of modern kitchen-diner spaces tucked discreetly away behind bespoke cabinetry designed and made by kitchen joinery specialists Martin Moore.
This interest-filled corner of the main living room includes simple shelving installed during the renovation and used to display a selection of family photographs, objects, indoor plants, and artworks. The metal and glass table lamp is from Cécile & Boyd (cecileandboyds.com), and the bench was found at a second-hand furniture dealer in Richmond. The striking red abstract artwork on the top shelf is by Henrietta Dubrey (henriettadubrey.com), a UK artist based in Cornwall, and the green picture on the left-hand wall is by an unknown artist.
There is informal bar-style seating at a marble-topped kitchen island, as well as an elegant wooden dining table in an elongated oval shape (another of Stephen’s designs) surrounded by comfortable, upholstered dining chairs. Finishes and fixtures throughout this space—which include wood, marble, and brass elements—combine understated luxury with tactile appeal.
At the rear of the house are a casually elegant outdoor living area and extensive lawn that form additional entertaining spaces, while the first floor is much more private, being entirely given over to the family’s bedrooms. These include a spacious and tranquil master suite with an enviable bathroom that sports cabinetry and wallpaper in a supremely chic shade of pale duck-egg blue.
The entire renovation of this home is redolent of Stephen’s signature style. Both elegant and playful—there is always a subtle touch of the unexpected to please the eye in these interiors—this house is sophisticated in design as well as being easy to live in.
(for additional credits and photos see the print issue.)
- This part of the kids’ lounge area in the loft doubles as a bed for occasional sleepover guests. Black Game Wall Lamp is from House Doctor, the bedding is all from The White Company and the throw is from Barbara Osorio Fabrics.
- The kids’ lounge area in the loft of the house pairs walls painted in Light Blue by Farrow & Ball with a set of couches custom-made for the space by Stephen’s joiners and upholsterers and covered in fabrics from the Golden Age collection by Güell Lamadrid. The occasional tables are from Weylandts.
- Printed wallpaper is Yukutori in BP4303 from Farrow & Ball. Glass table from West Elm.
- In the guest bathroom, a planter picked up for a song at H&M Home is paired with a black and white storage container from South Africa.
- Statement pendant light is the Walker Two-Tier chandelier by Kate Spade New York, which was sourced from Circa Lighting. Wallpaper is Textures Vegetales by Élitis, which Stephen uses in almost all her projects—”it brings warmth and texture, and I love the way light bounces off the linen-like effect of the paper,” she says.
- Monochrome occasional table is from Cécile & Boyd.
- This textured chartreuse Geotile cushion is from Niki Jones.
- Headboard is upholstered in Manuel Canovas Marius fabric from Colefax and Fowler with a piping edge in off-white leather from Samuel & Sons. Walls are painted in Light Blue by Farrow & Ball , up to a height of 280 cm because of the uneven ceiling line of the house. Bedside pedestals and nook easy chairs were made by Kim Stephen’s cabinetry and upholstery workshop. ,Wicker and bamboo bench was found at a second-hand furniture dealer in Richmond. The rug was found at Anthropologie .
- Flooring is Calacatta Vein honed marble tiles from Mandarin Stone and solid oak window shutters are from Plantation Shutters. The taps are by Hansgrohe, side table is from Cécile & Boyd and glass bathroom accessories were picked up at Zara Home.
- The cushions were made up in Into The Forest printed linen in Agave by Dedar with black piping. The rug is from Herringbone, and the wooden shutters were made by Plantation Shutters.
- Alongside the bed in the older daughter’s bedroom is a Flos IC floor lamp in brass, sourced from Amara. The detailed mirror artwork on the wall was found at Anthropologie.
- The pair of wood and wicker chairs in the main living room is from Cécile & Boyd in Cape Town.