At Home With Sophia @sophiahomeandlifestyle
This week we are at home with the incredibly talented Sophia. The interior designer, and very creative lady behind the stunning instagram account @sophiahomeandlifestyle where she shares images of her beautiful self-designed and built oak frame barn style home in the country along with her day to day life. If you aren't familiar with Sophia's insta account, the home images are fabulous. The mini Dachshunds are not to be missed either. So cute!
Tell us a bit about you
Hello, I’m Sophia and I’m married to ‘Mr. W’ and we have three grown up children in their late 20’s/early 30’s who have fled the nest. We are over the moon that we have just become grandparents for the first time! I have run my own Interior Design business for the last 20 years but have taken a back seat from this now to concentrate on other pursuits although you never know when there could be another project in you! Interiors have always been my passion and I have been fortunate to work on some beautiful country houses in Kent and Sussex mainly, over the years.
We are fortunate to live in a beautiful part of the Kent countryside, surrounded by pretty villages and not far from the coast. We fulfilled a long held dream 14 years ago when we designed and built our home having found the perfect building plot with lovely countryside views.
We absolutely love where we live and share what we hope is our forever home now with two gorgeous, very spoilt Mini Dachshunds called Delilah and Daisy!
Tell us about your home
The home we have built is a traditional oak frame construction in a barn style with white weatherboarding which is traditional in this area of Kent.
By designing and building from scratch we were able to create a very light and bright home with the use of plenty of glass doors throughout the open plan layout that also take in the view of the garden and the lovely countryside beyond. We have plenty of sheep as our nearest neighbours!
How would you describe your home?
I would describe the interior of our home to be ‘Modern Country’ style. I am half Swedish and am naturally drawn to the fresh, pale colour pallet of Scandinavian style with quite a few pieces of painted furniture which I also love to mix with a few key pieces of English Antiques, particularly inherited pieces that have sentimental meaning to me.
Which is your favourite room in the house?
I love different areas of our home for such different reasons. I suppose I would have to choose the kitchen as it is a large open plan design with an Aga and space for casual eating around a large island unit and leads to a tv sitting room area. I also have a desk area.
Glass doors run the full length of one side of the kitchen and lead into a large decked area with sofas overlooking the garden and view behind. Putting the recent restrictive year on one side, it is usually a very sociable space and we love to entertain family and friends as often as we can.
How does your home reflect any passions or interests that you have?
As previously mentioned, I am passionate about design and also creating a beautiful and comfortable home.
The views out into the garden through the use of french doors in every room, were particularly important to us and we are also passionate gardeners. When we originally bought the land to build the house, it was a former equestrian site with no garden to speak of. We have put a lot of love and hard work over the years in to creating a formal garden divided in to ‘rooms’ planted with many roses and hydrangeas and productive vegetable and fruit gardens. We have used a lot of box hedging and topiary and this gives the garden structure and feels very much a part of the house even in the winter time.
What are your favourite items in the home?
I am particularly fond of our inherited pieces, namely a couple of antique desks and the round entrance hall mahogany table which were all from our late fathers.
We love art and the paintings we have, have been found together on our travels around the world over the years.
When you moved into your house was it the finished article or was it a project?
As mentioned, we built the house from scratch. There had been a cottage on the equestrian site which had been previously knocked down. All that was there was stabling and a sand school (in the wrong place!) and some boggy fields! We lived in old mobile homes for 18 months while we completed the build which was certainly character building but a lot of fun! I was project managing the build so it was also very useful to be on site the whole time.
Have you done any renovation?
Having built from scratch, the entire house had to be designed and decorated. This last year we have also converted our three bay garage in to a guest annex with a lovely light and bright sitting room, kitchen and bedroom and bathroom.
This has been linked to the main house with the addition of a large study which my husband now uses to work from home. It’s been a wonderful project that we are so pleased with and has created a courtyard feel to the front of the house. The space has already been used for a couple of location shoots, and it’s very flexible for letting out as a holiday let. I’m also hoping to run workshops from there when life is hopefully back to normal.
Have you had any DIY or styling disasters?
I like to think that no I haven’t to date?! The house certainly works personally for us.
What is your top home styling tip?
For me it is to trust your instincts when making a decision. A home should make you feel happy as well as look good and be practical. I like to keep the majority of a scheme calm and neutral and inject colour with the use of art and accessories which makes it super easy to change the mood with the seasons.
The only place I have used a strong colour is in our new study which is a beautiful deep Farrow & Ball ‘Hague Blue’ which we love.
I’m all about making a space feel cosy and welcoming so plenty of cushions and throws on all the sofas.
Our homes should reflect who we are and many family photos in frames and items collected on our travels give the rooms character I like to think.
Is there anything in your home that you couldn’t live without?
Probably my Aga! We all love to cook in the family and I just couldn’t be without it. It’s also such a cosy warm heart to the home and everyone tends to congregate around it when they visit. Our Daxies ‘Delilah’ and ‘Daisy’ are always curled up in their beds next to it too!
They say that every home tells visitors a story about who lives there. What do you think your home says about you?
I like to think that visitors can see how much we love our home and that we enjoy it enormously. They can probably see how much our family mean to us with so many family photos around the place and that we love to entertain and have a bit of a party!
The Home Edit
Lived-in look or showhome?
A bit of both I suppose. We are extremely tidy and organised I like to think, but I do like visitors to feel comfortable and welcome so rooms need to reflect this and be cosy and comfortable.
If you could only paint your walls one colour which one would it be?
The majority of the open plan part of the main house is painted in Farrow & Ball ‘Elephant’s Breath’ which is a lovely warm pale grey. It looks very different in different lights but seems to work very well in all the spaces here.
What is your pet hate when it comes to your own or other’s homes?
In my own home I have a thing about dirty floors! Fortunately we have hard floors throughout which are mainly stone (apart from the annex which is oak) and they are easy to clean. We have rugs in some areas but I’m not a great fan of carpets in the downstairs of a house. I also like rooms to flow easily from one to the other and have a common link.
Favourite front door colour
Ours is oak which works with the oak frame of the house but if I had a coloured door it would probably be a beautiful soft grey/green like Farrow & Ball ‘ Drop Cloth’.
Carpet or Floorboards
As mentioned for my pet hates, I’m a huge fan of hard floors. I do like carpet upstairs to feel cosy though.
Kitchen table dining or formal dining room?
We are fortunate to have the option of both. We currently have one end of our kitchen island that sits five people on bar stools but I am in the process of replacing this with a larger marble island that seats 8! Obviously wishful thinking as we hopefully come out of this pandemic but I love to entertain casually much of the time and it will be a great option when family can all come and stay again in the future and for children in the family. Our dining room is also a lovely space though and by adding leaves to the table we can at a squeeze sit fourteen which is wonderful for parties and celebrations, especially Christmas.
High gloss or rustic?
Something in the middle I think! I love the patina of painted antique furniture and the use of natural materials that complement the oak beams in the house but I have gone a little more modern in the new annex which has been fun to do. It’s all certainly a country look though.
Wallpaper or Brick Walls?
We have painted walls throughout the house as it suits the oak frame better. I also adore wallpaper and there are so many gorgeous designs out there! I have indulged in this with the use of two beautiful bold designs in the recent annex decorating and have used it in the new downstairs shower room and the guest bathroom.
If you enjoyed being at home with Sophia, you might like to take a look inside other popular home styling accounts on instagram and find out more about the people behind them. You can see more of these "at home with" articles here