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Modern design in the countryside

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A 16th-century thatched cottage furnished in G-plan feels wrong. It’s the interiors equivalent of having your cuddly, creaky great-granny parading around in Agent Provocateur.

It happened by accident really (the G-plan in the cottage I mean – my great grandmother is actually an M&S waist-high kind of girl). We’d moved from an airy Victorian flat in London with huge sash windows and marble fireplaces that somehow felt very modern. The G-plan had been happy there but was ignored on our move to Buckinghamshire, on account of an invasion of small people. Two children in 21 months to add to the older one, all sucking our blood and leaving us limp and weeping on the floor. Not really. They never sucked our blood.

Now that sleep is no longer at the top of my wish list (this blog is – how sad is that?), I am sitting on my sofa,  looking at my Sixties furniture and actually… I like it! It’s a mismatch, but like many mismatches it seems to work. G-plan’s lack of chintz allows all the beams and period features to speak louder.

My G-plan-tastic dining room

The truth is, I really love modern furniture and design (by that, I mean 20th century and beyond), and I’ve drawn together the bits and bobs I’ve come across lately – some big pieces, some quirky accessories – that I thought you might find interesting, even if you’re in the Low Beam Brigade like me. All of the pieces are accessible in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire (or a brief nip into W1), and include several small local businesses.

If modern stuff isnt your bag, keep your eye out for a rustic/antiquey blog in the next few weeks.

PS Don’t forget you can use the comment section and let me know what you think. And if you like what you’re reading, please forward me to your friends, so I know I’m not just writing to myself! x

A bit of Scando cool for your kids with this Panton Junior stacking chair, available from Skandium on Marylebone Road, London. £122

Part table, part sculpture, this fantastic piece is by Chorleywood designer Oliver Haddon. It also comes in a gorgeous rust base and a less expensive stainless steel version has just been developed.

Gorgeous cream leather chair with brown suede piping, £895, from Liscious, in Oxford’s Summertown

Don’t try this at home folks, unless you have 12ft ceilings and £2500 to spare on this jaw-dropping Verner Panton chandelier. Wouldn’t you though? Available at Christies.


Love it! A repro of the original Ercol studio couch (£1925-2395). for local stockists

Indulge your inner twitcher with this elegant bird feeder from Heals, £10.50.

I’ll come clean. You can only buy this Ooba bassinet from the US, but it’s a design wonder, turning into a table when your baby outgrows it.

This Eames elephant is totally nutty. It has no particular purpose but is perfect for a children’s playroom or outdoor space. £140, The Conran Shop

A carafe and four glasses for £19.50 sounds like a good deal to me, and I really like the playful, not up-itself design. By Sagaform, at John Lewis

This exquisite ebony and black laquer coffee table is by Oxfordshire designer Jonathan Baring. Clench your buttock muscles before asking the price.  

Ornate, but not fussy, I really like this crystal candelbra from Heals, £275

4 comments on “Modern design in the countryside”

  • Nicola Dyche March 14, 2011

    Hi – the great ladies in Whistles told me about your blog when i mentioned i was doing one but couldn’t find others in Oxford easily!

    I grew up with G-Plan furniture and have very fond memories of it – it’s great to see you’re using it to fuse with the older character of the cottage. It looks great.

    Wonderful oil painting too by the way



    • Muddy Stilettos March 14, 2011

      Hi Nicola
      I know, those girls in Whistles are fab aren’t they? They must be the most popular shop girls in Oxfordshire.

      The oil painting was a 4 hour ‘sketch’ of me in the nud that was commissioned for a feature I was writing for the Indy on Sunday on nude portraiture. I really loved it and my mum bought it for me for my birthday so now I have evidence of what my bum looked like before children! x

  • Lucy W March 15, 2011

    Thanks for introducing me to, just purchased a much needed lampshade!

    • Muddy Stilettos March 15, 2011

      That’s great! They do have some lovely bits don’t they? And apparently they are planning to expand their small display in what was the Gallery Hadley in Thame too. Hx


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