DESIGNED BY HUDSON HOMES & INTERIORS
Nestled in the Surrey town of Haslemere, the pretty 1920s tile-hung cottage-style home of Abi and Adam Birch is typical of many houses in the area, yet the interior is anything but typical.
Abi and Adam bought the property 15 years ago and set about transforming it into a family home (they live here with their teenage children Emmy, 17, and Tom, 16, and Labradors, Darcy and Otto). First, they added a double-height extension incorporating a drawing room and main bedroom suite at one end of the cottage. Then, in 2021, they decided to improve the property further by building another extension to incorporate a more spacious kitchen diner, pantry, snug and guest suite. This time, Abi, who is an interior designer and runs Hudson Homes & Interiors with her sister Ashley (above), wanted the extension to have lofty beamed ceilings and ‘feel like a barn that had been bolted on to the cottage’.
New flooring for the open-plan kitchen diner and pantry was an integral element, but Abi also decided to replace the entrance hall floor and use the same stone throughout the ground floor for continuity. As Abi’s vision was to enhance the barn room’s light and bright ambience with pale floors, a natural stone in a neutral colourway was an obvious choice. It needed to provide a classic and elegant backdrop and be hardwearing enough to cope with the wear and tear of family life.
Once the extension was built, underfloor heating was installed, creating the luxury of warmth underfoot. Abi was then able to focus on the flooring itself. She was keen to create an industrial vibe in the large kitchen diner, yet with a nod to the period feel of the cottage, so she chose a calming natural stone in a warm palette. Having used Artisans of Devizes’ products in many of her clients’ homes, she opted for Wychwood Limestone flooring in a tumbled finish. The weathered and slightly rustic finish juxtaposes beautifully with the sleek Shaker-style kitchen cabinetry. Wychwood’s mellow tones also evoke a welcoming mood, particularly in a large space.
‘Wychwood is nice and warm but it’s got quite a lot of variation in it, which makes it interesting,’ says Abi. To enhance the industrial aesthetic of the space, Abi introduced Crittall-style windows and doors for a contemporary edge, and combined them with large, chunky furniture, as well as treasured antiques. ‘I wanted to use antique pieces alongside the slightly more contemporary square lines of the kitchen,’ she says. ‘I incorporated a cupboard that belonged to my grandfather and some large shop signs. It’s a mix of old and new.’ Abi designed a dining area with dark earthy green panelled walls, a custom-made banquette and a rustic French antique butcher’s table teamed with mid-century painted wooden dining chairs, and the Wychwood limestone tiles complement the rich colours perfectly. Abi then used Wychwood in the pantry and through to the entrance hall to continue the flow.
When it came to the main ensuite, which also had underfloor heating installed, Abi was keen to create a patterned floor to complement the fabulous freestanding tub and panelled walls, so chose decorative encaustic tiles. ‘Patterned tiles are quite on trend and these ones have a Victorian feel,’ she says. ‘They provide that nice mix of being something that’s of the moment but that doesn’t seem really modern and new. It’s quite grounding to have patterned floor tiles. I love that look - they make a feature of the floor and your eyes are drawn down. Sitting within everything else that’s quite muted, the floor tiles are a visual feature of the room.’
In the guest ensuite, meanwhile, Abi combined both plain and patterned floor tiles, opting for encaustic tiles in the shower enclosure for the wow factor and marble tiles for the rest of the space. ‘The encaustic tiles are in exactly the same colour palette as the floor in the main ensuite but with a smaller pattern repeat. They are perfect for creating visual interest,’ says Abi. She chose Folio Marble tiles by Artisans of Devizes, an elegant neutral marble with subtle grey veins, to complement the encaustic tiles and lighten the rest of the scheme and then tied everything together with dramatic deep grey walls.