Welcome to the latest through-the-keyhole exploration of some of the most interesting, innovative and thought-provoking interiors, as decided by the UK’s hottest designers and creative professionals.
This week we spoke to Daisy Brazil, a former set designer and founder of the Bespoke Footstool Company, who with her partner Toby designs and builds tailor-made footstools for interior designers, hotels and individual homes.
The pair are immersed in all things interiors, having also designed and built chandeliers, cabinets and other bespoke items of furniture. Using their collective experience and expertise, Daisy told us about her three favourite interiors – and why they’re so special.
Library in Chrissy Whittaker’s home – Dumfries, Scotland
“We got involved in this unusually-bright and airy library after being commissioned to build a footstool to compliment an old re-upholstered armchair adorned in purple velvet,” Daisy explained.
“Aside from the bookcases, these two items of furniture were to be the room’s main features. [The footstool] had to fit in with a dark wood floor, a large old sash window and floor-to-ceiling book cases.
“The bookcases are white, so it’s a bright room – and the huge window means light really floods in. The stacks of books help to foster a peaceful ambience, so the decor we chose had to reflect this.
“The daylight helped to highlight the chair and footstool in the centre of the room […] its features combined to make anyone setting foot in there want to do nothing more than take a book, get comfy in the chair and stay there all day.
“Outside the window is rolling countryside – it’s a lovely setting, and very conducive to reading. Some libraries can fall into the trap of being dark, dusty and unloved – but when they’re done right they can become a really important, well-used room.”
Bell tent, New Forest
“Sometimes designers have to go back to basics and think of the location first, then the room,” Daisy said.
“Privacy is one of the most-sought after virtues when choosing a home – so Toby and I sought inspiration during a camping trip to the New Forest in Hampshire.
“When we pitched our bell tent, we wanted to be hidden – we covered the top of the tent in ferns, so when we were inside and the sun was going down, the whole tent was decorated with silhouettes of the leaves. We also had a couple of hurricane lanterns, which gave off a subtle, welcoming light.
“It was lovely to be able to hear the sounds of the forest – to an extent becoming a part of it and our surroundings – while feeling safe and warm, which is how every room should make you feel.
“This inside-out concept is really appealing to interior designers – through some really simple ideas you can use the outside to make the inside better.
“Lots of people use the silhouette effect in their conservatory to stop too much light coming in when it’s hot, but there is room to be even more creative. At this year’s [RHS] Chelsea Flower Show they had a whole area dedicated to den-type structures – with real rooms, not sheds, that are a part of and reflect your garden.
“The boundaries between the garden and the den are often crossed – one wall or window may open completely, so the garden can come in, while the interior themes are based on the garden, so lots of green tones and plants and flowers.
“One of the dens is designed by a gardener and textile designer – the sofa is made from a patchwork of flower fabrics and the cushions are made from stitched flowers. This helps to add texture and to create more interesting surfaces to look at and touch.
“Also, the colours are much more in line with real flower and plant colours – sometimes people exaggerate flower colours in their interiors when they really don’t need to.
“A good den is basically an extension of the home – but more of a retreat so people can go to their secret place!”
Elephant Boatyard, Southampton
Daisy and Toby are regular visitors to Southampton’s Elephant Boatyard, which was established in 1952 and specialises in the construction of traditional wooden yachts. Their friend, boat builder Tom Trevessey, works there – and while not being a residential structure, Daisy says there is much inspiration for interior design to be found there.
“The yard is home to 20 under-construction yachts,” Daisy said. “There is an intricate network of ladders and seemingly rickety walkways high up off the ground which enable the boat builders to access their work.
“When you venture inside the boats, they are full of little hidey holes, and everything is in miniature – kitchens with small, purpose-built units and fold-down tables and chairs. Much of this can be applied to city living, where accommodation is usually on a smaller, more compact scale.
“There is so much to look at – you could spend a week there without seeing everything. It’s a really exciting, creatively-inspiring place to visit – especially for two practical people like us who like to make things.
“Toby recently made a circular yacht table – it’s amazing; you spin the tabletop around and it extends into a larger circular unit. The design is really clever using traditional wood-working techniques with modern mechanisms.
“Concepts like this can be applied to apartment owners who may be hosting a dinner party. This is why we love design and interiors – by thinking creatively and using practical skills, any problem can be overcome.”