We knew which piece of art would hang above the sitting room fireplace before the house was even built,’ says Taline Findlater of Olivine Design. ‘And it’s no exaggeration to say that we moved walls to accommodate the owner’s dining table. She was bringing it with her from her previous, much larger house and it had precious memories, as well as being the perfect size for large-scale entertaining.’
Taline and co-founder Victoria Gray were commissioned by the owner from the time she, with the architects Technical Design Solutions, were looking at a piece of land in south Oxfordshire, taking in the views, seeing the way the light fell, and imagining how the house design would evolve.
During the planning and construction stages, Taline and Victoria photographed and logged the owner’s art and items of furniture she wanted to bring with her. Collected over the years, they were much loved and would come to form the cornerstones of the new house.
‘It was a lovely way to work,’ says Taline. ‘The color palette was inspired by picking out shades from the paintings, and rooms were designed around her existing furniture, although this did prove a challenge as the owner wanted the house to be light with large windows to enjoy the views, which of course meant less wall space for furniture.’
One of the joys of a new build is that you don’t find disasters when knocking down a wall. ‘In this case we just got nice surprises as the house evolved and rooms took shape,’ says Taline. The hallway is luxuriously large and the kitchen-diner, sitting room and three en-suite bedrooms are generously sized.
‘However much you study a plan, the feeling of scale isn’t there until the walls are up,’ she says, ‘and with this house, delightfully, it felt more lavish than anticipated.’ Although only completed in October 2022, the house with its ceiling beams, rich textures and eclectic furniture has the feeling of a period home, but with all mod cons. The exterior reflects this, too, with finishes that give it a special charm.
‘We were lucky in that we had a great team with the builders, Seymour Building Company, along with the architects,’ says Taline. ‘The owner is young at heart and loves entertaining and wanted a home where friends and family could stay. However, it had to feel cozy and manageable for when she was on her own, too,’ says Taline. ‘The house is designed so she makes full use of the downstairs, areas such as the boot room, laundry and cloakroom, without any unused rooms or wasted space.'
‘The owner was excited by fresh ideas and was open to going out of her comfort zone – like taking the wallpaper in the guest bedroom and main bathroom up to the vaulted ceilings,’ says Taline. ‘She was initially wary of the idea but soon understood that if we’d simply painted those ceilings the flow would’ve been broken and the rooms would look unfinished.’
Olivine Design came to the owner’s notice through word of mouth. ‘She was looking for a practice that shared her love of color, pattern, and texture, along with mixing contemporary furniture with antiques,’ says Taline.
The duo, who also have an online shop, are renowned for their hands-on approach and the business is purposefully small but operates worldwide. ‘That’s how we want to keep it,’ says Taline, ‘offering a personal service is important to us.’
MEET THE DESIGNER
Taline Findlater shares her style inspiration
What was the most successful part of the project?
We wanted this home to reflect classic British style while remaining practical. It shows our love of layering pattern and bold colors alongside showcasing the charming antiques and collectibles.
Which small change has the greatest impact?
Add a rug – vintage, antique or new – it always finishes a scheme.
Describe your style in three words?
Colorful, comfortable, layered.
What's your favourite design detail?
Pattern on pattern – mixing florals and prints of different scales with textures to make a striking combination.
At home, what's on your coffee table?
Too many interiors books to count, but our favorites right now are the latest book from Luke Edward Hall, A Kind of Magic, and Nathalie Farman-Farma’s book Décors Barbares.
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Mary Weaver has had more than 20 years experience in the world of interiors magazines. She is a writer, stylist, art director, video and events producer. She has contributed to Homes & Gardens for many years and was Houses Editor of Livingetc for 14 years. During her career she has worked for all the major magazine titles, and previously enjoyed a career as a fashion editor.
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