It seems almost counterintuitive for a specialist in design to assert that “the best spaces are almost anti-design”. What?
Bear with Fran Walsh, a man with a well-honed eye, a career in brand and commercial design, a savvy background in business and art, as well as a talent for making things — be it a light, a painting, an installation, or just making plain-talking sense.
There’s an understated, almost timeless look to this family home where light is harnessed and left unimpeded (windows are left undressed except in some few cases where privacy from public view, or evening cosiness, might be needed), and where select pieces of art, craft, furniture and heirlooms are given breathing space, on walls that are largely white and grainy-textured with a simple sand and cement finish, with smooth, rounded corners.
It has been inspired by travels, partly to North America and the Continent for work commissions and consultancy, in bar, restaurant, hospitality and entertainment sectors, and more strongly to sunnier and brighter climes such as Mexico, Italy and Spain for downtime and for inspiration .
Apart from the quality of commissioned kitchen and furniture, with lots of split beech by Homegrown Kitchens, and even split beech insert into birch ply internal doors, and some select furniture and lighting from the likes of Mimo Cork in that design retailer’s heyday, this home is notable for its openness and tranquility.
In homes, especially those more northerly than the sun-blasted Mediterranean, “interior spaces are all about light — be it natural or man-made — the amount available, how you use it and choreograph the direction and movement of it”.
It has got a thick terracotta-tile floored main living area and large south-facing glazing, opening to 1,000 sq ft of decking, used for parties and outdoor eating, while the site’s elevation above a quiet country back road and restricted lines of sight from there meant no fussy curtains were required, allowing for only select internal shutters and blinds for cosy, night living, because “it’s all about light”.
“In my experience, busy interiors date badly and tire easily. They offer a costly and short-lived solution. Within a minimal space, impact features shine and people within the space become more interactive and interested, unobscured by busy design choices.”