In our ACHICA Guide to Christmas we focus on getting your living room ready for the festive season with beautiful furniture and accessories on promotion at ACHICA. For stunning living room ideas, you can also tour the home of florist John Carter, who has set up home in an idyllic Oxfordshire cottage…
Having set up the flower van inside Sir Terence Conran's London restaurant, Bibendum, and then moving to his current studio in Fulham, florist John Carter has had a busy work life. Deciding it was time to build in some relaxation into his fast-paced lifestyle he went ahead and bought an idyllic, period cottage in the Cotswolds. When he first started house hunting the intent was for it to be just for weekend use, but little did he know just how much time he would spend in the country.
"A friend, the interior designer Kelly Hoppen, knew that I was looking for a smaller home outside of London and suggested a property in Oxfordshire," explains John. The cottage he eventually came across had been recently renovated with the wall between the kitchen and living room removed to give an open-plan living room, dining area and kitchen. Oak flooring had been fitted in all the rooms down stairs and a neutral colour scheme painted on all walls. The kitchen cupboards had been refurbished and bronze tinted glass tiles fitted as a splash back.
''I adored the cottage as soon as I saw it, the interior was charming and sympathetically restored and then when I looked outside, what a fabulous surprise - I saw a large secluded walled garden,'' says John.
The potential to turn the interior and garden into something quite beautiful was obvious and he knew that he had found his perfect country home. The understated style of the interior is a mix of modern classic pieces with oriental and English antiques. ''I like to open my front door to the sweet smell of lavender,” says John. ‘It has always been one of my favourite fragrances. I have a selection of oils and candles around the cottage and on a winters day, it is a reminder of warmer days to come.”
The cottage had already been painted throughout in a soft cream, so John wanted to build on this by introducing wallpaper and paint in pale colours. John chose a Farrow and Ball palette, of muted tones in grey, duck-egg blue and pale taupe on both floors. ''The oak flooring gave me the starting point downstairs for the interior design,” says John. “I wanted to use colours and textures that complemented the wooden flooring and that would enhance the tones of the Cotswold stone.”
The open-plan arrangement on the ground floor works well for the florist, giving a feeling of space and ease for cooking and entertaining. ''I like rooms that are restful and orderly and that inspire calm and a sense of harmony,'' says John.
Attention to detail continues through the cottage with treasured possessions sitting comfortably with modern lighting, antique furniture and fine porcelain that John has collected over time. ''I am constantly changing the interior and have to stop myself from moving things from my London house to my home here. I like to experiment with scale - placing large items of furniture and paintings into a small space, I think it creates impact and appears to increase the size of the room.”
A large sofa upholstered in linen, sits on a seagrass rug, dividing the living room from the dining area, and a roaring fire helps to create a comfortable social space for John and his guests. Christmas also gives John the opportunity to show how skilled he is in the art of decoration. ''It is all in the detail,” he says. “As a florist I look to nature in my day-to-day work and always follow the seasons. Fashion trends for Christmas decorations change annually, but I favour rich, jewel colours, they are very nostalgic and I think are just right for this time of year.”
Words adapted from: Ann Broad
Photos: Colin Poole
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Emily Peck, Editor
View all posts by Emily Peck, Editor