Join me here in explorations of the places and people who inspire my passion for interiors. I’m always on the hunt for outstanding design, ancient, modern, natural and crafted.

June 10th, 2013

“Iconic” Interior Design in Esher…

Iconic Interior Design in Esher

I’m often asked where I find that all important inspiration or starting point for a scheme. To help ensure I never run out of ideas I try and set aside some time each month to go out and about and this month I decided to explore right on my doorstep…

Possibly one of Esher’s best kept interior design secrets, is “The Homewood”  a modernist house designed by architect Patrick Gwynne for his parents, just before World War Two. It’s probably one of his most famous buildings and is also one of the few remaining modernist houses in the UK.

The location is striking. On arrival, the exterior of the house provokes one of those immediate “love or hate it” reactions. I was torn between describing it as a “modernist country house”  (normally I might describe a house as one or the other, but not both) or a “bungalow on stilts!

Iconic interior design in Esher, Surrey

The stunning park-like gardens at The Homewood, Esher

Iconic interior design in Esher, Surrey

The Homewood, Esher, Surrey

Nonetheless, the interior had me temporarily converted to a dose of modernism and thinking “I could actually live here!”

Photography of the interiors is not allowed, so I will try and convey the unique atmosphere inside and these links on the National Trust archives have some great images.

First impressions were that the interior is actually quite luxurious compared to many houses of the “modernist” movement. It is also very clear that Gwynne loved maximising “light”, “storage” and paid huge attention to detail. Many of the rooms are actually at angles to maximise the way the light falls.

First stop was the office with an impressive bank of narrow architects’ drawers, cream with black edges, lining one wall (need some of these in my office). The black leather meeting table had drinks trays concealed in its circular edge (so as not to spill drinks on plans) and cupboard doors slid discreetly open.

We then moved to the central staircase which literally “twirls” upwards to the main living area. At the top you are greeted by a large blue chandelier, completely out of keeping with the period (bought by Gwynne’s father for the house) and contrasting strongly with the beige/neutral ambiance elsewhere. It makes the point that it is OK, and sometimes very effective, to contrast pieces of different genres and styles.

The foot of the spiral staircase  at The Homewood, Surrey.

The base of the spiral staircase, The Homewood, Esher.

Next, we were taken through cream leather double doors into the 36 ft long living room with views of the gardens through three bays of huge, almost Japanese style, windows. The scale and style of the windows was mirrored on the opposite side of the room in the form of three bays of horizontal shelves with glass doors. I smiled quietly to myself at the thought that even the style of the shelves (on little stilts) mirrored the outside of the house. I liked the modern take on a Chesterfield sofa (modernist seats to the front, with subtle buttoning to the back) and the cocktail bar that effortlessly slides in and out of the wall. It’s also a text book example of “zoning” a large room into smaller more intimate areas.

The Homewood, Esher

The Living Room with the folding screen to the Dining Room at The Homewood, Esher.

A striking Chinese screen door at the far end revealed a dining room.  Once again, unexpected design features were contrasted, with a country house feel with family portraits to the left, and an almost “pop art” style dining room table and chairs to the right (apparently there are controls to switch on varying coloured lights to illuminate the table…the jury is out on that one!)

Finally we glimpsed the bedrooms and an unusually large number of bathrooms for the period.  The bathrooms were, however, surprisingly small, as the focus was clearly on the living and entertaining space, with views of the stunning gardens from every room.

External view from the central hall, The Homewood, Esher

External view from the central hall, The Homewood, Esher.

The rear view of the house, The Homewood, Esher

The rear view of the house, The Homewood, Esher.

I came away undecided as to whether I would want to actually live there or not, but having committed to memory useful images of strikingly unique furniture and features.

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