Starting from Scratch: Wooldridge Interior Design

With six self builds under her belt, Wendy Wooldridge was determined that her seventh would be her most ambitious and Badger’s Brook on the Isle of Wight is certainly no ordinary house. Deceptively unprepossessing from the outside, but with fabulously airy, beautifully decorated rooms inside and with a vaulted ceiling and balcony off the main bedroom, Badger’s Brook shows how you can get all of your must haves into one space.

Wooldriege Interiors
The terrace at the back of the house which is a favourite spot

Wendy and her daughter Sabrina are no strangers to moving and they relish the thrill of the move, and also the  accompanying shopping. Partners in Wooldridge Interiors, not only do they build their own houses, but they design, decorate and shop for furnishings and accessories for clients through their successful business. “I remember from a very young age watching mum scribble out plans onto pieces of paper and doing architectural drawings,” remembers Sabrina. “Before we were born, mum designed and built a couple of houses and then as we grew up, she got back into building and now she’s passing on all of those skills: architecture, planning and building as well as interior design on to me.”

Wooldridge Interiors
The open plan kitchen and living room

Self -taught, Wendy has a knack for reading plans and drawing to scale and has always had an innate interest in houses and also why people do what they do when it comes to design. “I look at drawings and wonder why people haven’t optimised their space or why they’ve configured a room as they have – it just doesn’t make sense to me, so designing my own houses is something that comes very naturally.”

Chatting on the upstairs balcony

Badger’s Brook is built on the site of a former house which was destroyed in a fire and in fact, Wendy and Sabrina built two houses on the plot, living in the adjoining one whilst building their current home. “We loved the back aspect of the site with the greenery and the woodland in the distance and the sound of the trees. It was an overgrown site with a derelict house which had to be pulled down and we got planning permission to build two houses” says Wendy, “We built the first one and then decided to build this one to live in – and by building the first one we realised that there were things that we wanted to change and add on like the balcony at the back off the bedroom. This was a bigger plot and lent itself to a bigger property and so we could really expand and embellish. We did the drawings ourselves and then used Ben Hollis Design to draw the plans up to scale and then submit the planning application and to have our ideas and plans ‘architecturally verified’.”

The planning process proved to be the most difficult part of the process with the project taking five years from start to finish although the house build itself took only six months, as Sabrina remembers. “There was some local opposition and some of the comments that came through left us saying ‘oh my goodness’ but  when you have so many different opinions and expectations because of what had been on the site and what people feel should be built, then those opinions vary wildly. Funnily enough when we’d built the houses, people then could see how they fitted in and were happy with what we’d built. Sometimes it’s hard to see something on a piece of paper or online and translate that into bricks and mortar.”

Outdoor living details

The house has been designed with easy living in mind with an outside undercover living space which not only affords privacy in the garden but also maintains the privacy of the lounge and kitchen areas as well. Designed for year- round use, the area around the raised terrace has been softened with upright sleepers sunk partially and then planted with palms which soften the line between the terrace and the garden itself without blocking the view. Bifold doors lead into the very spacious kitchen diner and lounge area which is deal for family living and entertaining. “The living space here is something that we really enjoy,” says Sabrina, “We have the social aspect of the kitchen and we love to cook and share the room with friends and family so you’re not alone in the kitchen missing the conversation. The sitting room and study towards the front of the house is perfect for  reading quietly, meeting clients and we use for working and doing our admin.”

The decoration across the whole house bridges the gap between modern and traditional and the house is painted predominately white with wallpapers from Brewers to break up some of the wall space and to add a different dimension to the rooms. Furniture and accessories have been carefully chosen to reflect the character of the house and flowers and plants abound. “We’ve created a big white canvas and then picked elements of furniture to compliment the dimensions of the house and the nature of the build. Sometimes you get a very stark contrast between traditional furniture and a modern house and it feels disjointed. Whereas if you try to do it in a way that isn’t overly modern, cold and isolating but is in fact soft so that it appeals to people’s different tastes,” says Sabrina, “Some of the furniture we’ve used is traditional with a modern twist which compliments and blends in with the house.”

Mother and daughter’s love of decorating is only supplanted by their love of shopping as Sabrina’s impressive shoe collection is testament to and Wendy is full of advice for whether like her, you’re building from scratch, updating or just adding to an existing room. “We’ve got lots of sources because of the interiors business which was actually one of the reasons that we set the business up – it was difficult to source high end furnishing and good quality accessories here. We could see a gap there and so we source things very meticulously from a number of suppliers.

Choose well – you can have things that look expensive but aren’t, a bit like Sabrina’s shoe collection which is a fabulous combination of everything from Dunes to Louboutins. We’re very rigorous when we source things and ensure that we get the best price that we possibly can, so we shop around. TK Maxx and Homesense are firm favourites for furnishings and we’re very good at sniffing out bargains and also have our own suppliers. For many people just the thoughts of trawling around the shops fills them with horror so what better than to have someone to take the pain out of it by doing it on your behalf. We start with inspiration pieces sometimes; so, a pre-existing piece of furniture or a picture and build a room around that and so that begins the design process.”

And if there were to move, would they start again from scratch? “Yes absolutely,” laughs Wendy,  “We love shopping,  so we never mind leaving things behind or moving things on. We could do a pop-up shop here – we just love reinventing it all. Actually, if we next bought an even bigger house – just think of all those extra rooms we could fill.”

Ethos – it’s about standards, service, price and quality – we love that someone is benefitting from our skills and that’s having a positive effect on them. And meeting people’s expectations and trust.

You can see more of Wooldridge Interiors designs and contact them via their WEBSITE

Words: Amber Beard. Photography: Christine Taylor

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