Aquamarine and coral. Indigo and teal. Burnt sienna and saffron. The colour combinations in this Hertfordshire home are evocative and unexpected, sophisticated yet supremely comforting.
‘I knew this house would have colour,’ says the owner, acknowledging that his Persian heritage may have played a role in his affinity for hues at the richer end of the spectrum. ‘It’s something that is probably rooted in me.’
Though most of the houses in the small village are centuries old, this is one of a cluster of five built in the 1980s, and when the owners – who have three children, aged 13, 12 and nine – bought it two years ago, it was ready for improvement.
An orangery-style extension was added to the dining area and a double garage requisitioned to create a guest suite and a utility room.
Interior designer Melissa Bolivar, who was tasked with helping create the schemes, also made some tweaks to the layout, moving the doorway into the sitting room and the entrance to the snug.
‘These may seem like quite small changes but they can really transform the way a home is used. The sitting room door had cut the space in two, which meant that one side of the room was effectively wasted,’ says Melissa, who also had a false chimney breast built to give the room an all-important focal point.
Every room bears the mark of an artisan, from hand-knotted rugs to matt porcelain pendants. ‘This home is in the countryside and I think craft helps to reflect that and give a slightly unrefined edge,’ says Melissa, who cut her teeth creating global window campaigns for major fashion brands.
She moved into interior design and founded her company, House of Sui Sui, two years ago. ‘I wanted to be able to create something that was more long-lasting and that would really improve people’s lives,’ she says.
The husband, a restaurateur, has a passion for food, which has been well catered for in a kitchen that combines high-spec appliances with arresting midnight blue joinery and an Arabescato marble splashback. It creates an inspiring yet practical place for him to conjure up meals for his family.
Melissa designed the pendant lights and had them made by a ceramic artist.
The cabinetry includes a glazed dresser in the dining area, painted in forest green to give this space personality and connect it with the garden.
A pair of benches, a more practical choice than a single bench for this long table, showcases a lively print that helps bring the garden indoors.
A trio of Naomi Paul hand-crocheted pendants above the table pick out the spicy hues of the exotic fabric. ‘I wanted to give the sense of walking through a Moroccan souk,’ Melissa says.
Entering the snug-cum-cinema room, which leads off the kitchen, is an immersive experience with the walls, cabinetry, sofa and rug all featuring nuanced hues of teal and aquamarine.
A bespoke chaise-style sofa makes best use of limited space; the richly-hued rug was inspired by the minimalist work of artist Ellsworth Kelly.
‘I did a lot of research into old English reading rooms and found that many of them were decorated in just one colour, which is incredibly impactful,’ says Melissa. The family’s love of film is evidenced by a collection of original movie posters displayed throughout the house.
The sitting room, in soft white and grey punctuated with Prussian blue and saffron yellow, is a fine example of design that will stand the test of time. It centres on a coffee table made from a trunk of elm which, like many pieces, was chosen after a lengthy dialogue between designer and homeowners.
‘I sent lots of pictures of pieces of timber so they could pick the one they really loved,’ says Melissa. ‘It was the same for the marble in the kitchen. I hunted all over for the perfect slab, then the clients came to see it for themselves.’
A substantial limestone fireplace has a grounding effect on the space and enabled the addition of bespoke joinery flanking the faux chimney breast.
Painted a soft blue-grey, the bookshelf displays unusual finds including a model boat bought in San Sebastian and a little aeroplane found at Sunbury Antiques Market.
Melissa drew on the tones and textures of the countryside to create this restful scheme, where an old poster for The Sting points to the owner’s love of classic films.
Luxurious details such as an oversized upholstered headboard and soft striped wool carpet take their cue from boutique hotels.
Leftover marble from the slab chosen for the kitchen creates a chic vanity area. Reflected in the mirror are crackle glazed sky-blue tiles which pull in the colour scheme of the adjoining bedroom.
The owner agrees that collaboration was key to the success of this project. ‘My wife and I wanted to be involved in choosing everything,’ he says. ‘We waited a long time to own a place like this – much of what you see has been in our minds for the past 20 years.’
Interior Design / House of Sui Sui
Photography / Paul Raeside