No stranger to big projects, Interior Designer Laura Butler-Madden's previous work has included everything from collaborations with The National Gallery to Shangri-La Hotels. However, her latest job saw her transform a Victorian Carriage house, that hadn't been touched since the 1970s, into her very own stylish countryside getaway. Here, Aspinal of London gets her insider interior tips as she invites us into her beautiful new home.
How did you get into interior design?
I sort of fell into interior design really. I was working during my 20s as a journalist and publicist in London. When I was 28 out of the blue I was needed to go and take over my family business in Mallorca, which was a property development company, building beautiful houses from reclaimed materials in Pollensa on the north of the island. I was sort thrown in the deep end and took over the project management of the builds, as well as all the accounts and also the interior design for the properties, which I just loved. In 2011, I returned to the UK and set up my own interior design business and since then my husband and I have also continued to develop properties, which we love.
Who are your design inspirations?
My design inspirations come from many places - for me nature is a huge inspiration. I love to use natural materials wherever possible in my designs and also love textures such as sheepskin. I also adore botanical and floral prints. In terms of other designers, I really admire Ben Pentreath. He has such a natural style, which is much more traditional than my own. I think I admire his style, as it's something I would never be able to replicate.
How would you describe your style?
I would describe my style and clean, calm and fairly organised! I love a home to be a serene haven, somewhere to relax after the hustle and bustle of a busy day at work and also somewhere that makes your heart sing when you arrive home. I love to create really beautiful spaces; rooms that clients can really fall in love with. I also believe that you should have luxury in the home, even if it's small touches such as candles, fresh flowers, a stunning jewellery box or a beautiful lamp.
What do you like about living in Dorset?
I love the amazing countryside that surrounds us in Dorset. We are so lucky as we split our time between Dorset and London, so do have the best of both worlds. When I'm in Dorset I feel calmer though - the pace of life if definitely different, there just seems to be more time to appreciate the little things.
What are the big interior trends to look out for this season?
My designs are usually fairly timeless, so I'm not a big one for trends. If you love something enough then it should hopefully have longevity. I am enjoying the ongoing trend for botanical and animal prints and do love that velvet is still having such a big come back; I love the texture and it really can change the feel of the room. Oh and house plants! I love that succulents are so popular at the moment - they are truly beautiful and come in all shapes and sizes.
How do you manipulate your interiors for the season changes?
For me seasonality in the home is all about fresh flowers and scented candles - I love flowers and love to have whatever is seasonal all around my home. I am planning to try and create a cuttings garden later this year, so for next year I'll be able to grow my own. The same goes for candles; I have a bit of an obsession with them and they definitely like to change the scents seasonally.
What advice would you give to someone about to start an interior project?
I think the key is to do your research, both for design and budget. You can create a stunning room without spending a lot if you are clever with where you source from. I think the internet now is so amazing for inspiration - whether it's Instagram, Pinterest or Houzz, there are so many beautiful images out there. Collect as many as you can to start getting a feel for the look you want. Finally have confidence! If you really love an item then go for it - that can always be the starting point and you can design the rest of the space around it.
What do you do when you’re not doing interiors?
When I'm not doing interiors I am usually found working on my blog or catching up on accounts, which is the less fun side of property development. My husband and I also love to travel and often get to combine this with the blog, which is great. When at home we love to relax, cook, take the dogs for long walks and have friends to stay.
What are your favourite interior shops?
I have a range of favourites really - for unique pieces I love Talisman. On the high street, I'm a big fan of West Elm and Zara Home, and for fabrics and wallpapers I love Designers Guild. I also adore browsing the antique shops on Golborne Road for fun bits and pieces - I rarely come away empty handed.
You renovated this house, what did you do to it?
We have done a full refurbishment - it's a Victorian carriage house that hadn't been touched since the 1970s, so was very tired. We had to replace the roof, add new windows and doors, flooring throughout, as well as electrics, plumbing, redecoration and landscaping the garden. It's been a huge undertaking, but it's such a pleasure seeing the building slowly come back to life.
What would be your dream house to design?
I adore Georgian architecture and as yet have never worked on a Georgian property. I love the proportions and the beautiful windows, so this would be a dream project for me.
Where is your favourite place in your house?
The kitchen is an amazing space and I love spending time in there. It's a huge room and the reason we totally fell in love with the house. It's 16m by 8m with a 4m high ceiling and is where the horses were housed when it was stables. We have made it our kitchen/dining/living area and it works so well, particularly for entertaining and at Christmas we are able to have a huge tree.
Where do you relax?
We have a sitting room, called the Summer Room. I have designed this so it's very light and fresh and it has two sets of French doors with views over the countryside. It also has a super comfy sofa in it, so the perfect place to relax on these balmy summer evenings.
What is on your Aspinal shopping list?
As we are currently traveling a lot for the blog, I am longing for some smart travel accessories. I have my eye on the gorgeous travel collection in Deer Saffiano and I would also love a smart leather iPad case to help protect it in my hand luggage!
Follow Laura @ laurabutlermadden