Interior designer Charlotte Starling takes us on a tour of her Georgian home in Dorset

When Charlotte Starling founded Velvet & Dash she left a career working with TV stars including Davina McCall and Dan Snow to pursue her passion for interiors. Here she lets us take a look around her own house – a formerly neglected rectory that’s now a stylish and tranquil home…

Can you tell us a bit about your background and interior design training and experience?

I set up Velvet & Dash Interiors in 2011 when I decided to turn a long-term sideline of renovating and designing homes into a full-time business. Previously working as a television producer, I have an excellent grounding in people skills, high-level project management, and working to budgets and schedules. I combined these skills with my passion for interiors and the business was born! Velvet & Dash is named after my two rescue greyhounds.

Describe your style?

Confident and relaxed, combining classic simplicity with a modern flair. I’m aware of trends but I don’t follow them as I prefer to create spaces that are timeless, elegant and individual. I love houses to be tranquil yet decorative, and most of all a reflection of the people who inhabit them.

This looks like a kitchen-diner with room for friends. Do you have some advice on putting together an open and sociable eating and entertaining space?

I like chatting to family and friends while I cook so an island was imperative. It’s somewhere to perch with a drink while supper’s being made. We knocked through from the kitchen to the original dining room. Dining rooms are all well and good but I like creating one big sociable living, eating, cooking area. To me, it’s less formal. The units are painted a soft grey, which works with the industrial pieces, and the beech worksurfaces echo the floor colour.

This room makes us feel relaxed just looking at it. Can you tell us a little about how to create a tranquil scheme? 

A room such as this with 13ft high ceilings and flooded with sunlight just begs to be painted white. This is easy on the eye and also the perfect backdrop for statement pieces of vintage and upcycled furniture. The sofa is covered in faded florals as a nod to the rural setting and to add some softness to counter the industrial pieces. The honey tones of the floor tiles add warmth. The overall tranquil effect is created by the informality of the furnishings and the happy vibe of a room filled with pieces I love.

Fabulous colours! Why did you go for darks in this living space? 

This snug TV room is north facing with very little natural light. People often think it’s a good idea to paint this kind of room a light colour in an attempt to brighten it, but actually it’s much better to embrace the lack of light and go dark. Dark walls are glamorous and cocoon you and work as a fabulous backdrop for some splashes of bright colour. Set lamps around the room to create pools of light and the result is warm and welcoming.

You’ve given this bedroom pretty detail with wallpaper. We’d love you to share your top tips on choosing wallpaper for a bedroom.

In larger bedrooms I am a fan of the rather unfashionable feature wall created by using wallpaper. It’s a neat trick to emphasise the focus of the room: the bed. I love using papers with a hint of metallic in the patterns to up the luxe factor, but I would avoid anything too bold. Aim for something restful and contemplative. If you don’t want to commit to wallpapering completely then try panels of patterned paper in place of a headboard. Another top tip in smaller rooms is to paper the ceiling in with the walls. This creates a lovely tent-like effect in a bedroom.

We do love a bathroom with a view. What are the best ways to make the most of a spacious bathroom like this one?

A big bathroom with a roll-top bath in the middle is the ultimate luxury. This bath is facing the window with a view of the church – a quintessentially English country house. I always try to have his and her basins if there’s space; it’s the secret to a happy marriage. And an armchair next to the bath just adds to the whole feeling of, here’s a room to linger in.

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Sarah Warwick, Guest Editor

View all posts by Sarah Warwick, Guest Editor