Tour this Grade-II listed regency villa in Dorset

Interior designer Anne-Marie Richford lives in this beautiful detached Grade-II listed regency villa in Dorset, which was built in the early 1800s, with her husband Duncan, two boys and dog called Coco. Here she talks us through how she decorated her home…

“We bought the house in Jan 2011 and we use it regularly as our holiday house,’ says Anne-Marie. “We fell in love with the local area and wanted to have a base in the region. After having lots of holidays in Lyme Regis I knew that's where we wanted to be. I wanted my kids to play on the beach and feel the sea breeze on their face on a regular basis. The location - walking distance into town - was the main appeal and I could see the house was full of potential too.”

“The house was built as a merchant's family home and has had varied uses over the years. The town mayor has lived in it and it's been a doctor's surgery, a hotel, and it was a B&B when we bought it. It has great features original to its build - operational shutters, beautiful cornices and the most amazing curving staircase and fenestration."

“Many of the rooms had been carved up to pack as many people in as possible and to make separate accommodation for the owners of the B&B. The decor was very dated - circa 1985 – with burgundy carpet and yellow walls everywhere. It was very institutionalised too with fire doors, escape route signs and a public drinking fountain etc. It took some vision to see through what was there.”

“Getting the layout right was the starting point for decorating. I wanted to get it back to the family house it was intended to be. The rooms have very generous proportions and I wanted these and the lovely original features to provide the blank canvas for my designs. The listed building status provided some complications with the order of works - but nothing that couldn't be overcome and with people working around the clock we just about achieved our aim of finishing works in a three-month timeframe.”

“The living room is such a big lovely space with really high ceilings that I was concerned it could be cold, so I used charcoal grey on an accent wall around the fireplace to cosy it up a little. The oversized lampshades serve to bring the perception of the ceiling height down and make the area more intimate. The three leather sofas are huge and sit in a u shape, which is really sociable for evening chats around the fire.“

“The mirrors add the antique element I am so keen on and reflect the great view out of the floor-to-ceiling windows opposite. The pink adds a light touch and lifts the grey - grey on it's own would have been too serious. There is a painting of me over the fireplace that my husband commissioned as a surprise, which I (luckily) love.”

"The colours are inspired by nature and the surrounding area - lots of cloudy greys, blues, greens, misty heathers with a 'pop' of raspberry in the lounge and master bedroom. I wanted the palette to be restful and cosy to reflect what I was looking for in a holiday home for our family. The fabrics are natural as far as possible. There is a lot of linen in the soft furnishings to reinforce the relaxed feel I wanted and I have mixed cottons, wools, felt, leather in layers to give lots of lovely textures and to add interest."

"In the dining room, the Vivien Westwood wallpaper became my starting point. I wanted a strong focal point as a backdrop to provide interest and this was perfect. I had loved it for a while and now had the perfect place for it. I continued the white, blue, grey colour theme onto the Saarinen tulip chairs. Their classic design and curved lines seemed perfect for the classic contemporary look I was after. The table is simple in design and born out of necessity - I wanted to be able to seat 14 people together without spending half my budget on a table. There is a wall of mix and match paintings on one wall, along a seaside theme. I coordinated the frames to add some uniformity to the different painting styles and bring them together into a coherent look."

"My top tip for anyone decorating would be to get as many samples together as you can and lay them out to see what works. Once I think I have a winning formula I lay them out and live with them for a while. Some things seem to grow on you over time and others you can go off quickly. Also lighting is very important for deciding colours. I try to make my decisions in the actual room they're intended for."

"The scheme in the bedrooms are on the same colour palette as downstairs but lighter in tone. Each room is different but complementary. Importantly the colours in each had to work with the dark grey woodwork throughout the house. I had bespoke headboards and bed valances made in a simple style and decorative details are in the carved chests of draws and the seaside inspired accessories. I have named each of them after local bays and beaches to remind us of what's nearby."

"My favourite things are in my bedroom - the master suite. I love the whimsical nature of the flamingo wallpaper and the ball chairs are my favourite spot to sit and take in the amazing view down the Jurassic coast. The Designer's Guild fabric in the cushions is so detailed it's like looking at a painting. The pink indulges my girly side - I haven't dared ask my husband what he thinks of it!"

Photos: Nicholas Yarsley


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Emily Peck, Editor

View all posts by Emily Peck, Editor