When Phil Russell’s job brought him back to London after 18 years of living and working in Tokyo and Hong Kong, he had only a short time to find his family a new home in England. But the house that he selected did not quite meet with his wife Gaynor’s approval, and so at a distance of nearly 6,000 miles, she set about finding a more suitable one. It had to be located within an hour and a quarter of the City for Phil, and close enough to Ardingly College for the children to get to school.

The drawing room. The huge inglenook fireplace, with its herringbone-patterned brick chimney-breast, has a grand, iron fireback with an important-looking crest. The simplicity of the decorative scheme provides a serene backdrop to the furniture that the couple have collected on their travels

The drawing room. The huge inglenook fireplace, with its herringbone-patterned brick chimney-breast, has a grand, iron fireback with an important-looking crest. The simplicity of the decorative scheme provides a serene backdrop to the furniture that the couple have collected on their travels

In the dining room Gaynor added window seats and black tasselled blinds. Instead of a traditional, long dining table that would have looked formal and rather cold with so much space either side of it, she chose a square one, that was so vast, it had to be built inside the house!

In the dining room Gaynor added window seats and black tasselled blinds. Instead of a traditional, long dining table that would have looked formal and rather cold with so much space either side of it, she chose a square one, that was so vast, it had to be built inside the house!

The view into the kitchen from the dining room. A simple wrought-iron candelabrum hangs above the table

The view into the kitchen from the dining room. A simple wrought-iron candelabrum hangs above the table

Gaynor knocked the kitchen and dining room together to create one enormous space

Gaynor knocked the kitchen and dining room together to create one enormous space

One end of the library. A pair of sofas, upholstered in Zoffany pink velvet, nestle around the generously proportioned fireplace stacked with logs. “We usually take these sofas out to the summerhouse in the warmer months,” says Gaynor

One end of the library. A pair of sofas, upholstered in Zoffany pink velvet, nestle around the generously proportioned fireplace stacked with logs. “We usually take these sofas out to the summerhouse in the warmer months,” says Gaynor

A cosy seating area, just to the side of the kitchen, is home to some of the children’s artwork

A cosy seating area, just to the side of the kitchen, is home to some of the children’s artwork

Interestingly, when the Arts & Crafts movement was at its peak, it also coincided with a great European interest in Oriental art and a kind of fever for collecting Chinese and Japanese furniture and artefacts. So it’s amusing to think then that many of Gaynor and Phil’s interiors would not seem out of place in a 1910 edition of Country Life!

Interestingly, when the Arts & Crafts movement was at its peak, it also coincided with a great European interest in Oriental art and a kind of fever for collecting Chinese and Japanese furniture and artefacts. So it’s amusing to think then that many of Gaynor and Phil’s interiors would not seem out of place in a 1910 edition of Country Life!

Upstairs, the main bedroom is painted a pale green from Kelly Hoppen Paints and the bay window has had window seats added, this time with lilac suede cushions

Upstairs, the main bedroom is painted a pale green from Kelly Hoppen Paints and the bay window has had window seats added, this time with lilac suede cushions

A guest room has been given the same chalky white walls as elsewhere but there is a chocolate brown and white striped blind, echoing the dark wall timbers, while the white bedlinen is dressed with pink embroidered cushions and a Japanese lantern made of textured pink paper hangs above

A guest room has been given the same chalky white walls as elsewhere but there is a chocolate brown and white striped blind, echoing the dark wall timbers, while the white bedlinen is dressed with pink embroidered cushions and a Japanese lantern made of textured pink paper hangs above

“All my children had been born in the East, and of course we had collected lots of Oriental pictures and furniture over the years. We had a lovely house in Tokyo and I was used to the bustle and anonymity of a big city, so although it was breathtakingly beautiful here, to be in the middle of the English countryside did feel quite strange,” says Gaynor

“All my children had been born in the East, and of course we had collected lots of Oriental pictures and furniture over the years. We had a lovely house in Tokyo and I was used to the bustle and anonymity of a big city, so although it was breathtakingly beautiful here, to be in the middle of the English countryside did feel quite strange,” says Gaynor

The main family bathroom is a peaceful retreat of generous proportions

The main family bathroom is a peaceful retreat of generous proportions

  • words:
  • pictures: David Merewether
  • styling: Lucy Fleming

17th Century Sandstone Farmhouse

Stella Hayes initially fell in love with the property's glorious garden. She has gone on to create a beautiful home.

60s Themed Seaside Holiday Home

I’m sure we’ve all thought about buying a house by the sea – perhaps after an idyllic holiday, or a bracing walk, even just a drive along the coast. On the morning we visit James Rourke’s house, as the sullen...

A Butterfly Unfurled

When Sally Harrington opens the huge front door of her Kentish weatherboard home I assume that the 1950s bungalow that once stood here was demolished to make way for the new house. “No,” she says, “it’s still in here somewhere,...