With a triumphant array of nature-inspired prints styled with a modern edge, pattern enthusiast Laura Hunter has transformed her Oxfordshire cottage into an unapologetically bold and unique family home. As Rosalind Sack discovers…
PATTERN ENTHUSIAST LAURA HUNTER IN HER MORRIS & CO. PAPERED BEDROOM
While nothing beats the therapeutic power of the great outdoors, when the elements are against us, the next best thing is to bring a flourish of nature into our homes, particularly in uncertain times.
For blogger and tuition agency director Laura Hunter (aka @nofeaturewalls) her attraction to nature-inspired pattern has transformed her Oxfordshire home into a homage to the beautiful countryside that surrounds it. Here, ditsy florals, rich-hued botanicals and enchanting fauna prints sit merrily alongside the clean silhouettes of modern pieces and black accents, creating a charming home that is at once beguilingly traditional and uniquely fresh.
This cosy turn of the century cottage, with its awkward-shaped rooms and uneven lines, is a work in progress for Laura and her family – their first as home owners. They have completely gutted and renovated the right-hand side of the house, which includes the kitchen, cloakroom and utility, and redecorated two of the bedrooms in Laura’s unique aesthetic. Next year they plan to extend the dining room and snug, where more pattern awaits.
While many of us shy away from bold, enveloping pattern and mixing mismatched prints in one scheme, Laura has positively embraced it in her home. As her Instagram moniker @nofeaturewalls suggests, there are no half measures here, Laura knows her style and has, gloriously, run with it.
Laura tells us about her inspiration and shares her tips to help us all become braver with pattern…
(LEFT) MORRIS & CO.’s BLACKTHORN PAPER IN LAURA’S BEDROOM SITS ALONGSIDE A HEADBOARD IN VINTAGE FLORAL FABRIC FROM eBAY; (RIGHT) THE MORRIS & CO. STRAWBERRY THIEF PAPER AND FLORAL ACCENTS ARE LIFTED BY THE MODERN LIGHTING. IMAGES: LAURA HUNTER
How would you describe your style?
‘Jamaican nan cottage core’. Feminine, floral with a bit of edge.
Have you always had lots of pattern in your home?
Prior to this house I rented, so the majority of the pattern I brought into my home came from artwork, rugs and soft furnishings. Wallpaper, particularly in the style of pattern I like, is usually the realm of the home owner. So as soon as I had the chance to put my stamp on my own home, I knew I could take the pattern up a notch.
Where did your love of pattern begin?
I’ve always loved bold patterns and clothing. Even as a small child I would wear clashing prints, but it was the ‘80s so wasn’t everyone? I think my main love of pattens in interiors came from visiting the William Morris Gallery with my dad whilst studying for GCSE fashion and textiles at school. It was like nothing I had seen before; I just loved the heavy coloured small scale patterns and the cute elements like the fruits and birds.
(LEFT) LAURA LIKES TO SOURCE VINTAGE FABRICS FROM THE US ON eBAY, SUCH AS THESE IN THE BEDROOM; (RIGHT) MODERN FURNITURE AND BLACK PICTURE FRAMES ADD AN EDGE TO THE FLORALS. IMAGES: LAURA HUNTER
Do your family love pattern as much as you do or have you had to use your powers of persuasion when it comes to decor?
I buy all of my own décor items – my husband contributes nada – so, I do what I like, haha! My daughter likes florals and patterns, so she loves the wallpaper and the bathroom décor in particular, and my son is just three, but when I got the new patterned carpet he told me he loved it.
Did you grow up in a home filled with pattern?
My childhood home in North London had a lot of wallpaper, but more ‘80s style geometric prints and more of a minimalist style. My nan and grandma had a lot more pattern in their homes – lots of ‘60s and ’70s florals and chintz. As children we spent a lot of time at their homes and, looking back, their houses were quite full-on in terms of all the different patterns!
Are there any rules that you follow when mixing different patterns in the same room?
I usually try to pick out a colour theme that carries through everything and then I vary the pattern slightly. In the bedrooms I have Morris & Co. wallpaper, so there are a lot of colours to play with when adding additional fabrics and accessories. I always like to have a touch of black in the heavily patterned rooms – usually on picture frames – as it gives the floral an edge. My personality has a bit of a dark edge too; I like rock and metal music and a touch of the macabre. I am not a big fan of large-scale patterns; most of the patterns and prints that I use are small scale, bordering on ditsy print. Overall, I like to create a feminine aesthetic, rather than crazy pattern everywhere.
(LEFT) LAURA LETS THE MORRIS & CO. WALLPAPER TAKE CENTRE STAGE IN THE BEDROOM PICKING OUT COLOURS TO USE IN THE SCHEME; (RIGHT) BEAUTIFUL HAND-PAINTED FLORAL TILES ON THE BACKSPLASH. IMAGES: LAURA HUNTER
Have you always bought fabric and wallpaper new, or do you prefer second hand or vintage finds?
Most of the wallpaper I use is new, simply because I paper all four walls so I usually need seven or more rolls and I can rarely get this amount of the same batch second hand. I love using vintage fabric more than new and use unused roll ends or dead stock whenever I can, including on the headboard on my bed, for outdoor furniture cushions, pillows and so on. I buy all my fabric on eBay and love to get fabrics from the US as they have some great Arts and Crafts designs and quite a lot of ‘fresh chintz’.
How do you avoid a scheme feeling too fussy and twee?
Adding in modern items, particularly lighting and art. I love the juxtaposition of modern art alongside more traditional style fabrics and wallpapers.
(LEFT) A TAILORED PANEL OF HAND-PAINTED TILES SITS ABOVE THE BATH WITH MATCHING TILES ON THE BACKSPLASH; (RIGHT) THE MYRIAD OF FLORAL PRINTS IN THE BEDROOM ARE ANCHORED WITH MODERN ART AND ACCENTS OF BLACK. IMAGES: LAURA HUNTER
Who are your favourite wallpaper designers?
Aside from Morris & Co., I love GP & J Baker, Sanderson and Colefax and Fowler. My ultimate wallpaper designer is Marthe Armitage who uses hand-drawn designs hand printed from lino blocks. Louise Altman of Louise Altman Wallpapers is the contender to the throne. Hamilton Weston produce a reproduction of Jane Austen’s dining room wallpaper which is absolutely beautiful and if they still make it when we complete our snug/dining room extension next year it will be going everywhere – even on the doors! I particularly love floral, botanical and nature-based patterns and also like a background colour.
You have even extended your love of floral print to your bathroom. Tell us about these beautiful tiles…
They are made by ArA designs, a small tile design studio based in Thame in Oxfordshire. I came across them on Instagram and they tailored the bath panel for me and designed the sink backsplash from my brief. Everything is hand painted and individual and I’m so pleased with them.
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