Tile flooring

How a designer gave redundant rooms in a large Surrey house different purposes

Space: We believe that having more will solve everything, but often an abundance can create its own problems. Take this house in Surrey, southern England, which was built in the 1990s. It came with a generous entrance and beautiful floor-to-ceiling windows, but when its new owner got the keys last year, she realized she needed help zoning her long pieces more effectively.

Holly Vaughan of Vaughan Design & Development was commissioned to enliven the otherwise redundant spaces. She created an everyday dining room with spongy banquettes and a more formal space for entertaining. But the designer still had square feet to play with, so with the rest, she had fun setting up a games room and a nice book nook for the banquette. Here, Vaughan explains how she infused character into the home while giving each of the large areas a specific purpose.

magic carpet

green velvet sofa

While her grown children flew into the nest, the owner still has her crew of four-legged friends to think about, so Vaughan compromised on high-end upholstery and opted for a hardwearing parquet mix and easy-vacuuming, stone tiling and washable Weaver Green rugs on the floors (though the latter wasn’t his first choice). “I had vintage runners in mind — the kind you can wipe away and naturally disguise stains,” says Vaughan. But the fact that they could just be thrown in the washing machine in the event of an accident and that they weren’t too expensive to replace was too big of an advantage.

Throw shade

yellow dining room

armchair in a dining room corner

The existing decor was a write-off — think: magnolia walls, beige carpets, and pine paneling — so it also proved a time to indulge the sociable owner’s predilection for pinks, greens, and yellows. With expanses of walls to fill and a guideline to avoid overly strong hues like red and orange, Vaughan embraced pockets of color that complement other, more muted shades.

green library shelves

green library shelves

For example, in the long living room, the green carpentry is a little darker than the walls and the library wall deeper than that. In the dining room, she chose Hay by Farrow & Ball for the instant warm feel of the paint color, along with rattan chairs and pendant lights to match the scheme.

Dynamic Duo

pink tile bathroom wall

As Vaughan leaned toward neutral tones, the powder room was an opportunity to be more playful. Why limit yourself only to wallpaper or tiles? Instead, she combined a tulip print from Ottoline and a pink zellige tile from Mosaic Factory, resulting in a striking contrast of flowing flowers and textured squares. Alice Palmer’s fabric shades evoke a cottagecore feel.

story time

U-shaped bench with book storage

Previously, this bay window was obstructed by a sofa and framed by a set of passing curtains. “It called for comfort, so I created a seat by the window where you can snuggle up and read,” says Vaughan. “It also opens up the area, as there is a set of doors next to it leading out to the garden.” Two built-in shelves bolster its book nook function, and casual Roman shades help increase the amount of natural light streaming in, creating perfect reading conditions.

Full house

U-shaped dining bench

With two dining areas and two sitting areas ticked off, one might have wondered what to do with the vacant end of the long living room. Spot a play area flanked by ruffled curtains and a handsome marble table, one of Vaughan’s first finds for the project. “It’s nice to have a different place to sit after dinner and enjoy a cocktail or play checkers or cards,” she shares. Grant us.

rattan light on marble table