Interior Design

This art-filled, Georgian home takes its cue from Bloomsbury style – and its garden is pretty as a picture

Julia Pidgeon’s keen eye for design and color, as well as her remarkable gardening skills, have rejuvenated a Georgian home with an intriguing history

green bedroom with brass bed
(Image credit: Jody Stewart)

Distinctly artistic, and with a sense of history in every room, Julia Pidgeon’s home captivates anyone who sees it, even if it’s just from the outside. 

She and her late husband John quickly fell for its charms, as Julia recalls: ‘We knew this was the house for us as soon as we walked through the door,’ she says. ‘We loved the creaky floorboards. Our previous two houses had beams, so it felt like home – but this time with higher ceilings and beautifully proportioned rooms.’ 

There were a few more practical reasons, too. ‘It was the first time we’d had central heating since we left London 32 years ago,’ adds Julia. ‘Plus, the kitchen and en suite were brand new. It felt like the lap of luxury.’

Georgian flint home exterior

(Image credit: Jody Stewart)

There’s more than a hint of Bloomsbury Group aesthetic about this pretty Kentish home. ‘My daughter and I keep talking about painting the walls in a Charleston style. I think it would suit the house,’ says Julia. 

I think it would suit the house,’ says Julia. She wouldn’t be the first to make her mark on the property. In her bedroom, naive wall carvings of sailing ships – marked 1805 – are thought to have been made by Napoleonic- era prisoners when the house temporarily served as a gaol. 

kitchen table

(Image credit: Jody Stewart)

There’s plenty more here to catch the eye. Poole pottery, artworks from various periods and by the family themselves, and a collection of wooden plant stands add to the eclectic look. 

It’s no surprise that local artists love to get creative in this inviting atmosphere. ‘One of my neighbors suggested I run art classes here. They have proved very popular and I have many faithful pupils, with new ones regularly embarking on my nine-week beginners’ course,’ she says. 

Kitchen

The kitchen has a mix of fitted and freestanding units and has a small dining area (pictured above). The inserts in the kitchen bench back are song lyrics, which Julia made using some printing blocks inherited from her uncle.

The stainless-steel pan racks and shelves came from Divertimenti and the colorful paintings were picked up on a trip to Joshua Tree National Park.

Kitchen with pan rack

(Image credit: Jody Stewart)

Living room

The living room at the back of the house features an impressive original fireplace and alcove cupboards. The lampshades are bespoke, and the rug came from County & Eastern. Local artist Nicki Vowls created the linocuts to either end of the mantelpiece, and the pots on the windowsill are 1930s Poole. The walls are painted in Little Greene’s Stone.

Georgian flint home living room

(Image credit: Jody Stewart)

Home office

In the study, there’s one of the house’s two substantial fireplaces. This is a particularly striking room, with its aubergine-painted walls, shelves of books and artworks, and props for Julia’s classes.

Below is a display of Julia’s pupils’ work and some of the props that inspire them. The sideboard is a reworked shop unit unearthed in John’s parents’ garage. The walls are painted in Farrow & Ball’s deep, dark Brinjal.

art display

(Image credit: Jody Stewart)

Despite Julia offloading three carloads of books before moving in, the shelves in her study are well stocked. The lamp base is Poole, the lampshade is bespoke, the painted boxes came from Jaipur and the bird’s nest was discovered in a bay tree that was being pruned.

Stduy

(Image credit: Jody Stewart)

Dining room

The Hepplewhite sideboard in the dining room is a family heirloom. Julia bought the dining table, chairs and chandelier on eBay. The white cliffs woodblock is by Buckinghamshire printmaker Laura Boswell. Julia’s parents bought her and John the Divertimenti Solimene crockery as a wedding present.

traditional dining room

(Image credit: Jody Stewart)

dining room with chandelier

(Image credit: Jody Stewart)

The original staircase is open from the dining room, and features elegant Georgian detailing.

Main bedroom

Julia’s pine panelled bedroom has a beautiful view over a neighboring thatched cottage. The bedspread is from a previous incarnation of Feather & Black. Julia’s son, Barney, did the pencil drawing to the left of the bed.

panelled bedroom

(Image credit: Jody Stewart)

Guest bedroom

The guest bedroom is painted in Farrow & Ball’s Pale Hound and Churlish Green. Collette painted the chest of drawers in a craquelure finish in the 1990s. The flower jug is an old family piece, part of a washstand set.

green bedroom with brass bed

(Image credit: Jody Stewart)

The garden

The garden is Julia’s special treasure. From something fairly ordinary (‘just grass and a couple of nice roses’) she has created a country garden bursting with color inspired by Sissinghust, Great Dixter and the local award-winning garden at Sandwich’s Salutation. 

Tulips, roses, peonies, dahlias and euphorbia succeed one another to keep the space lively and full from early spring until late fall. Julia has also planted a kitchen garden which keeps her well-stocked all year round. 

Garden bench

(Image credit: Jody Stewart)

Purple sprouting broccoli, shallots, onions, garlic, courgettes, cabbages and celeriac are some of the staples. ‘The soil is very free draining, so plants can put down roots very well. When we moved in, the stables opposite were doing their regular clean, so I got them to dump a couple of huge bulldozer scoops of manure over the wall!’ 

Julia removed a large holly tree obscuring the dining room window and filled the front garden with roses. The rambling rose on the left is Veilchenblau by David Austin Roses (above). The table and chairs (below) are from Bamboo Tiger.

This house is taken from H&G's sister brand, Period Living magazine 

Subscribe to Period Living for more inspiration Period Living is the UK's best-selling period homes magazine. A subscription provides you with all you need to know about caring for and improving a traditional house and garden.

Traditional garden table and chairs

(Image credit: Jody Stewart)

Clippings from the garden regularly find their way into the lively art classes taking place inside. Julia’s house and garden sit together in happy harmony, providing plenty of inspiration and a fertile atmosphere for creation to those lucky enough to study in this perfectly peaceful place.