Fourteen years later the house has more than doubled its footprint, with additions to the side and back. The interiors of the house, now one of the world’s best homes, were inspired by its part-walled garden and the green space beyond it. The result is a harmonious and relaxing home, totally at one with its setting as the indoor and outdoor worlds merge in a soft palette of natural shades. Here’s how it all came together. 


One of the key things in redesigning the interiors was to open up the house to the views of the garden. All the main living areas are now at the back. The new kitchen includes a beautiful bay window dining space with a custom-built banquette, perfect for admiring the garden and observing the changing seasons. From the new window seat you can see apple blossom in springtime, then swathes of hostas, hydrangeas, sedums and then seedheads and bronzed hornbeam in winter. Kitchen ideas include a large island workspace, painted in Farrow & Ball’s Stone Blue. Simple Shaker-style cabinets are topped with marble and customised with antique-style handles.   A stainless steel range cooker has been fitted under a false chimney hood that conceals an extractor. Lustrous gray-blue tiles are arranged in an eye-catching herringbone pattern that echoes the herringbone flooring. 

Dining room addition

This high-ceilinged family dining and living room space was part of the most recent phase of alterations to the house. Big picture windows were never part of the plan here, instead, steel framed doors frame the garden views, and add to the charm rather than revealing everything all at once. Dining room ideas for this busy family space include simple bench seats with a heavier, statement dark wood table.  At the far end of the room, living room ideas are focused on the new stone fireplace with a pair of striking orange sofas positioned to enjoy the fire, and bring out the natural tones of the wooden furniture and the flooring. A gallery display of botanical prints behind one of the sofas leaves no doubt as to the plant passion of this home’s owner. 

Library and reading nook

If you’re looking for home library ideas, there’s plenty to inspire in this bright reading nook. The daybed window seat is set into a deep alcove, the perfect place to read a book, and enjoy the sounds and sights of the garden. 

Practical mud room

Incorporated into the new kitchen extension, this handy space for muddy boots and outdoor gear was a must-have for its garden designer owner. Boot room ideas include smart bespoke cabinetry with pegs for coats and a bench seat and cupboard below for shoes and other outdoor clothing. 

Entrance hall

Hallway ideas were about creating another room in this transitional space. Treasured family antiques – the lampbase and settle seat – give a homey look and have been updated with a new cushion and lampshade. 

Stairway heaven

At the other side of the hall, making the most of every inch, a small partner’s desk is the perfect fit under the stairs, and is paired with a characterful antique chair.  Staircase ideas worth borrowing from this calm space include the botanical-inspired wallpaper, Beech, from Lewis & Wood, and the neutral runner which complements the natural choices elsewhere in the home. 

Main bedroom

Even the bedroom ideas in this house are inspired by nature. The calm scheme for this room under the eaves has a countryside flavor. The bedside chests and lamps were vintage finds, the dark wood furniture providing a deeper tone of brown that picks up on the earthy highlights of other accessories in the room. 

Shepherd’s hut garden room

A garden designer’s own garden is always going to be something special, and Ailsa’s certainly is that. The wide plot is divided into separate ‘rooms’, so that you don’t take in the whole vista in one glance. Tucked into one corner is a delightful shepherd’s hut, built by Ailsa’s husband Ben from scrap wood. The boundaries of the garden merge with the woodland beyond.  For homeowner Ailsa, the interiors of the home relate to the garden, rather than the other way round. The garden always comes first.  All the changes to the house have been designed to make the garden the main focus. Originally a small cottage, built in the 1700s with just two bedrooms, the house is now more workable as a family home. Two phases of building work added three extra bedrooms and a lounge diner, and opened up the main living spaces to the garden at the back of the house.  Such was the importance of the old apple trees and that 300-year-old yew, that Ailsa surrounded them with protective frames to shield them from the worst of the building work. The trees live on, watching over the latest additions to this special home’s story.  Feature: Karen Darlow Photographs: Polly Eltes Garden design: Ailsa Richards (opens in new tab)