Cover Clad in a rich azure shade from Farrow & Ball's Stiffkey Blue, the study is a charming library designed to cater to both the old and young

Renovated in just five months by K&H Design, this abode in the English countryside marries a classic look with specially curated furnishings; the study is also the family's favourite room

“Some houses are described as having the perfect bones—this house is one of them,” declare Henry Miller-Robinson and Katie Glaister, the founders of interior architecture and design studio K&H Design. Founded in 2015, the London-based studio operates on a design philosophy that “create real homes, each one personal to the client and always with an emphasis on creating an aesthetic, intelligent and practical design solution.”

Nestled in the idyllic Oxfordshire countryside, this particular historical property with its classical Georgian architecture is the client’s first English country home.

“​​It is a property that has two distinct characters to it: one half an old original Georgian rectory and the other, a more recent large extension,” says Miller-Robinson. “Because the space was divided in this way, we knew we wanted to ensure that the different areas had a different feel to them, while still retaining a timeless design that maintained Georgian features.”

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Serving as a peaceful retreat from London for a family of six, the house had to exude comfort and cosiness whilst still maintaining a sense of familiarity for the family. “It needed to be a sophisticated yet understated and practical family home; a space they could entertain in, but also act as a bolt hole for a peaceful weekend,” adds Glaister. 

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To realise their vision of a relaxing retreat that pays homage to its historic roots, the designers decided to create a space that creates a dialogue between the old and the new. The material palette was key in retaining a charming rustic allure in this three-storey house.

“The devil is in the details,” shares Glaister. “The house needed to feel as if it was lived in and well established, and the furnishings needed to look as if they had been collected over time. We made decisions such as choosing single seat cushions made from soft feather down filling on the sofas in the drawing room to give the look of being well-loved rather than brand new.”

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The devil is in the details. The house needed to feel as if it was lived in and well established, and the furnishings needed to look as if they had been collected over time.
Henry Miller-Robinson and Katie Glaister, founders of interior architectural and design studio K&H Design

The open-plan living area consists of a light-filled breakfast room, located next to the kitchen and living room. The white walls enhance the calm and tranquil atmosphere that the breathtaking view of the garden offered. A bespoke Rose Uniacke Drapers dining table sits in the center of the room; the custom table features a height lower than usual to suit the Model 78 dining chairs by Danish designer Niels Otto Møller. To the side, an antique bench from Miles Griffith Antiques adds a tactile touch to the space. 

“All these material finishes were part of a very carefully curated palette of Georgian-influenced colours,” says Miller-Robinson. “We were ever conscious of the journey through the house and aspect of each room and worked predominantly with British label Farrow and Ball as well as Edward Bulmer for their paints in order to achieve this connected journey.”

The eye-catching blue hue of the study—courtesy of British paint brand Farrow and Ball’s Stiffkey Blue that’s painted all over the built-in joinery—creates a calming presence that adds personality to the house. “This particular room presented a great opportunity to create an atmosphere,” explains Glaister. “Whilst the house was designed for fun and downtime, a lot of importance was still placed on learning. The library, in particular, is a 'go-to' room for both the old and young.” 

To retain the original elements of the home, the team arranged for the floors of the study to be sanded and treated with a reactive stain. This helped to deepen the tones within the oak flooring and enhance the character of the timber material. The chimney breast was clad with hand-marbled bookbinding paper to add subtle texture and elegance, while the rich velvet curtains from British upholstery brand George Spencer with a delicate handwoven bronze braid trim by UK-based trimming weaver Jessica Light adds a subtle shimmer to the room when it catches the afternoon sun.

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Upstairs, the seven bedrooms spread across the 6,500 sqft property each has its distinct character that is reflective of both its owner and purpose. “Colour was key. We ensured that each bedroom had its own colour scheme whilst remaining unified with the rest of the house,” share the designers.

The grandmaster bedroom suite, a more spacious version of the master bedroom, features a serene white background that highlights the lush landscape that one can soak in from the large windows. “The brief for this particular room was to give a little nod to the surrounding gardens in terms of patterns and palette, but they wanted to avoid having a specific season dictate the scheme,” explains the design duo. “We love featuring both old and new—some aspects we were lucky to inherit with the architecture of the property, others we created.”

Timber flooring was brought in to replace the previous carpet treatment, which helped ground the furniture in the room and added a sense of height within a space that had relatively low ceilings. Existing architectural features such as the alcoves and pillars were left largely untouched, except for a rich coat of moss green in the background of the shelves to create a vibrant background for the curated objects and accessories on the shelves.   

The window seat was custom-made by the firm, to help further draw the connection between the client and the outdoor gardens. The bespoke cushions, upholstered in a floral fabric by Michael S Smith, create the perfect aesthetic for the room that’s inspired by the colours of nature.

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In sharp contrast to the predominant Georgian design found throughout the rest of the home, the master en-suite is a chic and modern space. Carrara marble line the vanity unit, backsplash, floor tiles and shower area, creating a contemporary and linear effect. The antique brass accents lend a robust shine to the bathroom.

The other rooms spread throughout the home boast their own unique edges. For owners' young daughter, the designers created a romantic princess-themed room that’s decorated in her favourite shade of pink—a request from the family. “We are always careful to design children’s rooms with timelessness so that the room is able to grow up alongisde them. While this room is whimsical and beguiling, we took care not to mishandle the brief of 'pink'. The walls are in Cuisse De Nymphe Emue by Edward Bulmer, which has enough to proclaim its warm pinkiness without losing any sense of fun.”

The unique coronets atop each bed were sourced from a remote village in north Wales, while a few whimsical hand-painted fairies living on the wardrobe doors were courtesy of a locally commissioned artist. “We had great fun sourcing furnishings from a variety of places, utilising our network of dealers online, in London as well as the West Country,” the designers gushed. “As a design studio we are committed to supporting existing and up and coming British and international artisans, and always look to work with an extremely talented and skilled craftsman to design bespoke pieces for client’s homes.”

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The ultimate fairytale space continues in the boy’s bedroom, albeit down a different route. Here, the designers crafted a young explorer’s dream room—complete with aviation, cars, and astrological aspects for an adventure to space. The design team was asked to create a room with blues and reds. “The colours used on the walls are stronger than some of the rooms, but we then unified the scheme with the rest of the house by retaining the same carpet and woodwork. We designed bespoke bed throws and cushions to introduce a subtle play on palette, pattern and texture.”

The studio creatively hung a plane model from the ceiling to give it a sense of taking flight, while the matchbox cars that serve as wardrobe handles add a playful touch to the room. The main focal point of the room, however, is the custom-made tent crafted from linen and wool. “Floor space was essential to fit this centrepiece, which is also a real den for weekend camp-ins with the boy’s mates.”

With ​​Christmas Eve as the project's deadline, the tight time crunch was the ultimate challenge that the team faced. “We were given just five months to redecorate this empty house and fill each room with treasures to create the feeling of a personalised family home that had been added to over many years,” says the designers. “This meant that a lot of the items we sourced and fell in love with had too long a lead time or were out of stock, so we had to find alternatives. We worked with a lot of detail so tight deadlines certainly make it harder, but nonetheless, there was real energy throughout this project that made it great fun!”

The result of the team’s dedication and hard work materialised in the form of a warm and welcoming abode that ultimately delighted clients: “Because of the tight deadline, the owners made sure to see the house as it developed, but they were very pleased to be able to move in on the agreed date and enjoy the interiors over Christmas. The children’s bedrooms have become (their) favourite space over time, and they particularly loved some of the items we took care of and time to source, in particular, the Niels Moller chairs.”

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